November 30, 2023

Spooky season spins: songs you absolutely have to play for Halloween

As we move into the season of Thanksgiving, myself and the rest of the staff here at the Chimes wanted to take a moment to reflect on the best, most iconic songs to play around Halloween. Here is a list of songs that, according to us, make the ultimate Halloween playlist.

  1. “Calling All the Monsters” by China Anne McClain

The nostalgia, the production, the drama of it all! McClain’s Disney channel hit has become immortalized as a required spin for any Halloween party. The “demon choir” she sings about in the bridge of the song reminds us of how scary good this song is and that it should be on repeat every year. 

  1. “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell

With eerie synth production and a beat that stays in stride with the anxiety of someone being watched, Rockwell’s 1984 jam is an intrinsically spooky song. This hit features the vocals of Michael Jackson during the paranoid chorus and highlights the nerves of everyday life, lamenting the loss of privacy as everyone watches the singer from afar, including the IRS. 

  1. “Spooky Scary Skeletons” by Andrew Gold (Undead Tombstone Remix)

Gold’s song, which is perhaps one of the most well-known Halloween songs, was popularized by the Undead Tombstone Remix. The remix speeds up the original, adding in a beat drop that can be heard from the grave.

  1. “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers

This beloved tune is a Halloween classic to most everyone, putting a unique spin on the story of “Frankenstein.” The narrative lyrics follow the development of a party that starts when the Monster begins dancing around, doing the “monster mash.” Pickett’s 1962 release is a quintessential Halloween song to be enjoyed by listeners of all ages.

  1. “She Wolf” by Shakira

The bouncy instrumentals combined with the unique vocals make this song an unexpected choice for this list, but makes the cut because of the imagery. Both werewolves and disguises are hallmarks of Halloween, so listening to this Shakira song is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday.

  1. “Bloody Mary” by Lady Gaga

The song has been especially popular since the Netflix original series “Wednesday” came out earlier this year. The song gained traction in a viral TikTok trend as the sped-up version of the song was played over the show’s iconic dance scene. Because of the association with the Addams Family-inspired show, this song is a perfect way to get people in the mood to dance on Halloween.

  1. “Thriller”’ by Michael Jackson

It just wouldn’t be a Halloween playlist without “Thriller.” This six-minute-long song is an iconic fixture in pop culture; the groovy chorus and mesmerizing vocals will defend its spooky status for years to come. 

  1. “Spooky” by Atlanta Rhythm Section

This song follows the story of the singer calling up a woman, who he describes as “spooky” because she’s been haunting his dreams, and proposes to her on Halloween. If the production of this version is not appealing, Dusty Springfield’s 1968 version boasts a more relaxed sound.

  1. “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads

The name of this song is pretty clear in its topic. The lyrics align with the anxiety of the Rockwell pick for this list, while weaving in more about death instead of just stalking. Because of its darker themes, this song more than warrants a spot on the list. 

  1. “In The Room Where You Sleep” by Dead Man’s Bones

This song finds itself in the same vein as “Somebody’s Watching Me” and “Psycho Killer,” but acts less as a vehicle for paranoia and more as a warning that someone is in fact there in the shadows. With the “dark heart… beating and waiting” in the corner of the room, it almost is the reverse of a classic macabre story, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe.

  1. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult

This is a quintessential spooky season pick because of its allusions to death and the fortitude of humanity. This Blue Öyster Cult jam hears a reassuring boyfriend tell his lover that they have nothing to be afraid of, not even death itself. The guitar solo in the middle of the song adds some intensity and builds up to candles blowing out, curtains flying open and the couple escaping hand-in-hand.

  1. “Charlotte Sometimes” by The Cure

The hazy trance-like state described in the lyrics match the production of this 1981 gothic hit, inspired by a children’s book of the same name. It explores the despair, love and struggles with identity felt by the main character throughout the book, focusing on the fragility of being alive.

  1. “Visitation of the Ghost” by The Brobecks

The instrumental build up of suspense with the unique sound of the lead singer’s voice create a perfect set-up for the song’s unnerving lyrics. Each chorus ends with the question of “who will be a witness for the solitary host? If you sleep tonight, the visitation of the ghost.”

  1. “Goth” by Sidewalks and Skeletons

With vampiric imagery, “Goth” sounds more synthesized than the rest of the instrumentally-strong track. However, the beat and moody lyrics combined with the dreamy production make this song right at home on a Halloween playlist. 

  1. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.

To round out this Halloween playlist, it’s important to return to another classic of the season. The iconic “Ghostbusters” theme has a permanent place in film and music history, cemented by the lasting popularity of the movie. With its recognizable melody and lyrics, there’s only one thing to think before getting up to dance: Who you gonna call?

Honorable Mentions: “Pet Sematary” by The Ramones, “Disturbia” by Rihanna, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “What’s New Scooby Doo?” by Simple Plan, “I Put a Spell on You” from “Hocus Pocus.”

The full playlist can be accessed on Spotify.


  • Charlotte Keller

    Charlotte is a third-year English Literature major with a Spanish minor. She is secretary of the Capital Book Club, an AIM Change Advocate, and Capital’s Student Government Parliamentarian. In her free time, she likes to make Spotify playlists and watch rom-coms.

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