On Halloween, you need music that fits the spooky theme of your party. The following songs—neatly compiled in a Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page—provide an excellent backdrop for getting totally ignorant on horrific cocktails. It’ll also save you the embarrassment of being the guy who plays “Time Warp.”
Seriously, dudes, don’t.
“The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pinkett: Your party isn’t a Halloween party without this classic 1962 jam. We’d recommend the Beach Boys version, but you really have to see Mike Love creeping it up to appreciate the humor. “Monster Mash” is pretty much the “Winter Wonderland” of Halloween. Fun fact: The UK banned this song from 1962 to 1973.
“Halloween” by The Misfits: Few bands have made Halloween into a lifestyle quite like The Misfits. Legions of imitators have donned guyliner and sleeveless leather jackets. None match the four bridge-and-tunnel guidos shunned by the rest of the CBGB punk scene for being too much like Kiss. Tip: Skip the sequel, “Halloween II,” unless you actually want your guests to fall asleep.
“Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince: Sure, Gravediggaz wrote scarier raps, but they never did any this fun. A total novelty rap from the height of ’80s slashermania, this song tells the tale of an encounter between the rap duo and Freddy Krueger. Fun fact: Apparently A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge inspired this song, not the original. So there’s that.
“Dragula” by Rob Zombie: This song has become a stock feature in horror films. That just makes it a contemporary classic. You don’t want a steady block of heavy music at a party, but throwing this one in brings a little aggressive energy. Tip: When guests begin passing out in a candy corn and booze coma, bump this track and watch things get jumping again.
“Season of the Witch” by Donovan: So good, they named a Halloween movie after it. It’s not just the lyrical content that’s creepy. The normally laidback, easygoing Donovan is still easygoing and laidback… he’s just a little spookier on this track. You really get the sense that scary, scary things are not too far around the corner. Fun fact: Actress Ione Skye’s dad? The singer of this song.
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson: The video scares the crap out of little kids, but the song gets adults bumping and grinding on one another, especially after a few cocktails go down the hatch. Now that Jacko is gone, try and remember him making classic dance tunes and not…. oh, hell, take your pick. Tip: Learn the dance and you’ll catch the eye of MJ lovers. Hopefully female ones.
“I Put a Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: Before there was Alice Cooper, there was Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. This guy used to begin concerts by kicking his way out of a coffin. And this song falls right in line. Fun fact: Hawkins is estimated to have left 75 kids behind at the time of his death. Dang.
“Black Magic Woman” by Santana: A great track for winding things down, “Black Magic Woman” features some truly sick guitar work from Carlos Santana. Also a word of warning that some of those costumed hotties may be femmes fatale.Tip: If you’ve got Guitar Hero, bust it out and see who can rack up the most points while wearing their costume.
“Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult: Blue Öyster Cult are one of the most underrated bands in rock history, giving birth to both metal and grunge. This track features lyrics about death and suicide and other gruesome stuff. Also, a killer guitar solo. Fun fact: In the poetry of the band’s manager, Sandy Pearlman, the Blue Öyster Cult is a group of aliens who have secretly guided Earth’s history.
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder: Stevie Wonder wrote one of the funkiest keyboard riffs ever for this sexy and spooky jam. It’s not a piano, though, it’s a clavinet. A great track for getting people on the dance floor when there’s too much standing around and yakking. Tip: If you can’t dance to this, you just might be dead.