Top 13 Halloween Songs That Rock
Forget 'Monster Mash,' the 'Addams Family' theme song and Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' — when you're putting together your Halloween party mix or homemade haunted house soundtrack, you want some songs that really rock. Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie are obvious choices, but dig a little deeper and you'll find some killer cuts from artists like Wednesday 13 and the 69 Eyes that will make your mix hotter than a scorching summer afternoon in hell. We've compiled 13 — yes, that's a Lucky 13! — of the spookiest, freakiest and fiercest hard rock 'n' roll tracks of all time to put on our following list of Halloween Songs That Rock:
This relentlessly grinding instrumental track off 'Awake' features dialogue sampled from 'Mysterious Forces Beyond,' a short-lived '90s TV show that delved into phenomena like psychic powers, near-death experiences — and, of course, blood-sucking immortal beings. “Few creatures of the night have captured our imagination like vampires,” intones a deep voice over creepy, delay-laden sound effects. 'Vampires' certainly captured the imagination of music lovers — it snagged Godsmack a Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy nomination in 2001.
A Halloween party simply isn't a Halloween party without a little shot of skeletal rock from horror punk legends the Misfits. One of the first tracks to feature then 16-year-old Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (how's that for a name?), 'Halloween' was released as a seven-inch single in 1981 and later surfaced on their '3 Hits From Hell' (another great name) EP. “Dead cats hanging from poles / Little dead are out in groves / I remember Halloween,” Glenn Danzig enchants. Really, does nostalgia ever get better than that?
Nine Inch Nails set the table for the industrial revolution of the '90s with their breakthrough album 'Pretty Hate Machine,' and the post-punk paranoia of uber-influential British act Joy Division played no small part in inspiring NIN's epically dark sound. Trent Reznor returned the favor with this haunting cover of 'Lost Souls' for the 1994 soundtrack to the movie 'The Crow.' Joy Division released the original tune, a poetic treatise on schizophrenia, after singer Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980.
It's not the theme song to the '80s cult teen vampire movie of the same name, but this 2005 tune by the Finnish gothic rockers certainly is an ode to it. The video, which was directed by Bam Margera of MTV's 'Jackass' fame, has the same Hollywood backdrop as the movie, a gang of motorcycle-riding night creatures and several scenes lifted directly from the flick: vampires drinking blood from ornate wine jugs, hanging from a bridge as a train rolls by and — of course — eating Chinese takeout that turns into a box of creepy, crawly maggots. It was one cameo from the Two Coreys away from being the long lost 'Lost Boys II.”
‘I Walked With a Zombie’
Best known for his role fronting the horror punk supergroup Murderdolls (which features Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison), Wednesday 13 — there's that number again! — has had a long and bloody fruitful solo career. 'I Walked With a Zombie' is off his first solo album, 2005's 'Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying, and the Dead.' Its title comes straight from the campy 1943 zombie flick of the same name. The tune's awesome video shows band members edited into another zombie classic: 'Night of the Living Dead.'
Rob Zombie is like the walking, talking personification of Halloween with dreads, and his output over the years proves it: the metal circus of mayhem known as White Zombie, his freakish solo career and his string of horror movies that has included 'House of 1000 Corpses,' 'The Devils Rejects' and his re-imagining of the 1978 classic flick 'Halloween.' 'Dragula' — the first single off his debut solo album, 1998's 'Hellbilly Deluxe' — is based on the drag racer “DRAG-U-LA” featured in the sitcom 'The Munsters.'
Indie legends Sonic Youth recorded this chilling, feedback-laden classic ode to Oct. 31 for their 1985 album 'Bad Moon Rising,' and Seattle grunge greats Mudhoney took a stab at redoing it for the 1989 split single 'Touch Me I'm Sick/Halloween.' The A-side features the Youth covering Mudhoney's best known song; they slow it down to spooky speed and, in a witch-like bit of inspired gender-bending, SY bassist-singer Kim Gordon handles vocals originally sung by Mudhoney's Mark Arm.
Slayer recently celebrated 25 years of terrorizing with their classic album 'Reign in Blood,' and this month hip haunted houses the world over have been marking a quarter century of scaring the hell out of little children by cranking the track 'Raining Blood' to 11. And talk about scary: the release of 'Reign' originally was delayed due to accusations that the album's artwork and lyrics proved Slayer supported Nazism, accusations that they fiercely denied.
What do you get when you cross Halloween with Hell? Influential German power metal outfit Helloween, of course! The band released this epic, 13-minute tribute to its namesake day in 1987 on the album 'Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1,' which proved to be their biggest hit in the U.S. It peaked at No. 104 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and helped Helloween land a prized spot on MTV's inaugural 'Headbangers Ball' tour with Anthrax and Exodus.
Long a fan favorite, Ozzy Osbourne penned 'Hellraiser' with his guitarist Zakk Wylde and Motorhead singer Lemmy Kilmister for 'No More Tears,' but never released it as a single. Motorhead raised hell with a churning cover a year later, and their version wound up on the soundtrack to the 1992 flick 'Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth,' the third installment of the popular horror series. A video for the song featuring Lemmy and 'Hellraiser' villain (or dark hero?) Pinhead in a head-to-head poker showdown (Lemmy wins with — of course — four aces and a Joker) surfaced that same year.
‘Every Day is Halloween’
Halloween comes just one time a year — unless, of course, your name is Al Jourgensen. With lyrics like “I dress this way just to keep them at bay” and “I'm not the one that's so absurd,” the Ministry singer delves into the trials and tribulations of committing to daily life as a goth. Ministry had yet to discover the punishing industrial assault that evolved into their trademark '90s sound, yet in retrospect somehow this melodic synth-pop ditty manages to be even spookier as a dance track than it would if throttled by later-era metallic Ministry.
What's more frightening than tripping through the artificial neon haze of Sin City with a head full of psychedelic drugs? Apparently not much. 'Bat Country' (and the accompanying video) follows gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's terrifying 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' journey from the bat-infested outskirts of Vegas straight to the casinos, where — thanks to a trunk load of controlled substances — faces melt, dealers sprout fish heads and strippers grow lizard tails. Weird.
‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’
Every parent's worst nightmare at the turn of the century, Marilyn Manson landed his first single on the U.S. charts in 1995 — and thus began his assault on mass (un)conciousness in earnest — with 'Sweet Dreams,' a creepy cover of the British duo the Eurythmics' signature song. Their original is a catchy pop nugget, but under Manson's watchful eye, it becomes a dark and twisted tale. The downright freakish accompanying video set the gold standard for Manson clips for years to come. Try telling little trick-or-treaters to sleep well after hearing this tune!