It's Spooky Season! Top 10 Halloween Bangers

Seeing as it’s the spookiest weekend of the year, we thought we’d put together a little list of some of the best Halloween themed songs throughout the years!

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins- “I Put A Spell On You” 1956:
Starting off our Halloween countdown we have one of the earliest spooky songs to grace the airwaves. Originally written and recorded by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins, this song has been covered by many artists including Nina Simone and Annie Lennox but it was the original by Hawkins that made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll.

Once released to the public in October of 1956, Hawkins was introduced to Alan Freed, a DJ from Cleveland. It was Freed who suggested to Hawkins that he should capitalise on the “demented” sound of “I Put A Spell On You”. As performances progressed, Hawkins adopted a long cape, entered the stage through a coffin amidst smoke and fog, wore tusks through his nose, brought live snakes on stage, fireworks, a cigarette-smoking skull dubbed “Henry” and ultimately transformed himself into one of the first “shock rock” artists.

Stevie Wonder- “Superstition” 1972:
Perhaps one of the most iconic songs on this list, “Superstition” was written by Stevie Wonder and released in October of 1972. Quickly becoming a number one in the Billboard Hot 100 by January of 1973, it peaked at number eleven in the UK singles chart and soon became one of Stevie Wonder’s most recognised songs. 
The funky clavinet riff that opens the song and continues throughout could perhaps be dubbed as THE definitive clavinet riff. If you’re looking for a keyboard to grab that tone, why not come in store and check out our Casio CDP-S350 that features authentic, weighted keys, 700 tones including some gnarly clavinet sounds, compatibility with the Chordana app and a built in arpeggiator!

John Carpenter- “Halloween Theme” 1978:
Our first piece of film music to grace the list, this eerie masterpiece from John Carpenter was written for the 1978 film “Halloween”. Interestingly, the score for the film was credited as being performed by the Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra due to fears that it wouldn’t be taken seriously, musically or academically, if it were simply credited to Carpenter; worries stemmed over it seeming like a fake imitation of a real orchestra due to it’s minimalist, synth heavy sound. 
From an analysis perspective, the piece uses an obstinate that moves up a semitone at key harmonic moments. This creates a really harmonically ambiguous tonal centre, helping to add to the fear and suspense of the slasher classic. Try adding this to your jogging playlist and watch how your average speed dramatically increases!

AC/DC- “Highway To Hell” 1979:
From the bands sixth studio album, “Highway To Hell”, this track hit the airwaves back in July of 1979. It was, unfortunately, Bon Scott’s last album as he passed away in the following February. Cemented into super-stardom thanks to controversy around the title, this track was written to actually describe the experience of being a touring band. The hell they referenced being endless car and bus journeys with early call times, journalists at every corner asking for a quote, sleeping 2 inches away from each other at times, and the general exhaustion of performing for around 4 years straight.
Recorded at Chalk Farm in London and produced by the legendary producer Mutt Lange, the track features roaring electric guitars, thumping drums and an insanely powerful lead vocal. Tracked through a Marshall 1959 Super Lead Plexi head, full stack of Marshall 1960AX and BX 4x12 cabinets, Angus Young favoured his trusty 1970 Gibson SG Standard. 

Ray Parker Jr.- “Ghostbusters” 1984:
Ghostbusters was written by Ray Parker Jr. in 1984 to co-inside with the film release of the same name. The song debuted at 68 on the Billboard Hot 100 it eventually peaked at number one in the August of the same year, where it stayed for three weeks. The track featured some heavy influences from Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want A New Drug” which resulted in a lawsuit in favour of Lewis; not the best track record but it definitely helped solidify the song in people’s memory, either as “that Huey Lewis rip-off” or “that banger from the Bill Murray film!”
Parker was approached at the last minute to create a song for the film. Having only a few days to do so it seemed as though the film’s title and content was impossible to write lyrics for until Parker saw a late night commercial and remembered that aspect of the film- “Are you troubled by strange noises in the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family actually seen a spook, spectre or ghost? If the answer is yes, then don’t wait another minute. Just pick up the and call the professionals- Ghostbusters.

Michael Jackson- “Thriller” 1982:
Arguably the halloween song to end all halloween songs, this Michael Jackson song is probably the first to everyone’s mind when asked to think about spooky or horror themed pop songs. Written in 1982 by English songwriter Rod Temperton, it originally went by the title of “Starlight” with the chorus lyric: “Give me some starlight, Starlight sun”. Producer Quincy Jones loved the song but felt the song should be a bit more mysterious and eerie, eventually coming up with the now famous “Thriller”.
The now über famous track features a Minimoog that plays the bass line, a Linn LM-1 drum machine, a Roland Jupiter-8 synthesiser, an electric guitar, Rhodes piano, a pipe organ and a whole horn section. Check out this super cool video from Doctor Mix where he uses most of the original gear and shows you how to play all the parts:

Metallica- “Enter Sandman” 1991:
Metallica, the grandfathers of metal at this point, released Enter Sandman as part of their self-titled fifth album that released in 1991. Written by Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, the track deals with the concept of children’s nightmares- perfect for a Halloween vibe!
When recording the track the band took several measures to help increase the “size” of the sound they were committing to tape. Hetfield tracked the main riff three times to help create a “wall of sound”, 40-50 microphones were used in various positions to help achieve a live sound, and the drums were recorded section by section with close to 50 takes per part- that may have been more to do with Ulrich’s drumming ability but the rest was definitely intentional!

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John Murphy- “In The House In A Heartbeat” 2003:
Another famous film tune here, this time from the 2002 horror classic “28 Days Later”. Written and performed by John Murphy, this instrumental metal track blasts onto the screen in the final climactic parts of the film as main character Jim embraces his inner monster and saves those he cares about in the most brutal fashion possible.
The entire track consists of one continuous ostinato that builds in intensity until it’s a roaring, climactic force that is full of tension and horror. Famously used again in 2010’s “Kick-Ass” and later in trailers for the video game series “Metro”.

My Chemical Romance- "Welcome To The Black Parade" 2006:
The song that made a high G, played softly on a piano, instantly recognisable to rock fans everywhere. Perhaps the most iconic track to come from My Chemical Romance, this anthem tells the story of “The Black Parade” and is the centrepiece of the concept album that shook the music scene back in 2006.

Ghost- "Dance Macabre" 2018:
Written by Tobias Forge and debuted at a live show in 2018, “Dance Macabre” was written with The Black Death of the 14th century in mind. Forge said in an interview: “All the pubs were thriving because people started partying literally like there was no tomorrow because they were gonna die. They were just going for it. "Dance Macabre" is capturing that joyous nocturnal sort of life in a disco song.”
This song is one of the bands more “disco” inspired tracks with many commenting on how it sounds like “ABBA going Metal”

Go check out our Halloween playlist for more tunes to get you into the spooky vibes!