So next week is Halloween, the high holy day for attending costumed parties and throwing back pumpkin beer after pumpkin beer. With your Halloween party, you need the perfect party playlist. And c’mon, every Halloween mix out is there an endless rotation of The Monster Mash, Werewolves of London, and of course….. Thriller.
This is your guide to make a Halloween playlist without Thriller. Blasphemy? Maybe. But after years of Halloweens spent listening to drunk people sing-screaming “THIS IS THRILLER NIGHT!” while trying to avoid their clumsy and potentially dangerous dance moves, it’s old and tired, people. For me, anyway.
So, in 5 easy steps, here’s how I made a Halloween party playlist WITHOUT Thriller.
Fake ‘em out
Pick the “classic Halloween” songs that you do love (or at the very least, tolerate the most) and put them first. Make people think that they’re getting a normal Halloween playlist. For me, that’s Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper and The Doors’ People are Strange.
Bach it up
Little Fugue in G Minor, BMV 578? Check. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor? Check. Bach was not only a musical genius, but a genius at making spooOOooky music.
Depending on your preference, one or both will do. It’s really fun to find the perfect modern song to go after too. I’ll admit segueing Toccata and Fugue into The Flaming Lips’ The W.A.N.D. may not be everyone’s cup of witch’s brew, but it actually worked. That’s the art of the playlist for you.
Mix songs with creepy noises / clips
Spotify is the BEST for creepy noises. You can find all sorts of Halloween noises from evil girls singing “I’m going to get you” to a man darkly laughing to doors creaking. Just search for “Halloween sounds” and you’re going to find a’plenty to choose.
Go for the lesser-known kitschy songs
Instead of Werewolves of London, try Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.
Another good one is Voltaire’s When You’re Evil.
Focus on themes
Halloween is rife with themes — death, ghosts, evil, monsters, ghouls, creepy, unsettling, etc. Rather than picking songs based off of their Halloween content, pick songs that thematically go with Halloween. A good example would be The White Stripes’ In the Cold, Cold Night — it has a slightly creepy vibe with a bassline that reminds me of a spider walking, plus, MEG is singing and not Jack. It’s not traditionally Halloween, but it works really well on a Halloween playlist.
Speaking of spider-esque bass lines, The Cure’s Lullaby works well too:
And a final few tips:
— If you’re crazy detailed like I am, you can create “acts.” Remember those creepy noises I referenced above? I started off each “act” of the playlist with a creepy noise and then the ensuing 5-8 songs were of a similar theme or songs that I thought sounded good together. This worked well for creating a playlist that needed to be at least a couple of hours long.
— Don’t be afraid to throw in some regular ol’ party music that might not have anything to do with Halloween. There’s nothing wrong with filler, especially if it keeps the party going.
— For the love of all things spooky and musical, if you simply must play the Halloween party standards, don’t get a CD from the drugstore with weird covers. We are in the age of Spotify, folks.
You can listen to my Halloween playlist here: