Halloween is one holiday that we reliably get excited about (no, it’s not just for kids), and it’s right around the corner. That said, a little music goes a long way towards setting the mood and getting those creative juices flowing before you start planning a killer costume. Still, Halloween music isn’t a genre per se...or is it? We’re ready to challenge that assumption with our list of the best Halloween songs—featuring murder ballads, eerie tunes to set a spooky tone and songs that make explicit references to werewolves and witches. Suffice it to say, we’ve got your Halloween party playlist covered. (Enjoy.)
The 52 Best Halloween Songs (That Are Actually Really Good)
1. “Spooky” By Lydia Lunch
We think you’ll agree that Lydia Lunch of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks gives Dusty Springfield’s classic a considerably spookier edge.
2. “Thriller” By Michael Jackson
No Halloween playlist would be complete without “Thriller.” May the creepy choreography inspire you to hit the dance floor.
3. “Psycho Killer” By Talking Heads
David Byrne’s impression of a psycho killer is so upbeat, you’ll be bopping right along to it. Even scarier is that it makes the Norman Bates type seem kind of, er, relatable.
4. “Hungry Like The Wolf” By Duran Duran
Is it Indiana Jones? No…It’s '80s heartthrob Simon Le Bon, and his jungle romp will have you howling at the moon.
5. “Henry Lee” By Nick Cave And Pj Harvey
No surprises here: Nick Cave is the king of murder ballads. That said, this duet with PJ Harvey turns a sinister storyline into something oh-so romantic.
6. “Highway To Hell” By AC/DC
More '80s gold—get ready to rock out on the highway to Halloween.
7. “Red Right Hand” By Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The powerful bass line here makes a fine backdrop for Cave’s chilling description of a mysterious (and terrifying) man.
8. “Zombie” By The Cranberries
There’s no denying that a) Dolores O’Riordan has a serious set of pipes and b) this song will indeed be “what’s in your head, in your head…”
9. “Climbing Up The Walls” By Radiohead
Thom Yorke takes the creepiness factor to new heights with this haunting track.
10. “Black Sabbath” By Black Sabbath
Is anyone surprised that Black Sabbath wrote a real rocker about Satan’s reign of terror?
11. “Season Of The Witch” By Donovan
The vibes might be more flower power than anything else, but the refrain is spot-on and it's almost impossible to not sing along.
12. “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” By David Bowie
David Bowie’s inimitable voice is almost a growl when he sings the chorus on this rocker: “Scary monsters / Super creeps / Keep me running / Running scared.”
13. “Super Freak” By Rick James
Rick James’s punk-funk classic is guaranteed to get everyone freaking out on the dance floor.
14. “The Monster” By Eminem Ft. Rihanna
It’s no secret that Eminem raps about some very scary stuff—and with Rihanna singing the hook, there’s no doubt this Grammy Award-winning track will be the monster in your head.
15. “Heads Will Roll” By The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The topic is plenty terrifying (and stomach-turning)—but oddly, the song just makes you want to party.
16. “Carolina Drama” The Raconteurs
This bluesy ballad from the Raconteurs is an epic one, and it’s all about (yep, you guessed it) murder.
17. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” By The Beatles
A disturbingly cheerful little ditty about a serial killer who bludgeons his victims with a hammer. (You never listened closely, did you?)
18. “Your Ghost” By Kristen Hersh
Kristen Hersh of Throwing Muses shows off her hauntingly beautiful voice and Michael Stipe chimes in on the refrain—the effect is equal parts eerie and elegant.
19. “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” By The Cramps
Hilarious and just plain fun, this song about a teenage werewolf features the Cramps’ signature surf guitar stylings and punk-rock attitude. In other words, it will make you want to move.
20. “Sympathy For The Devil” By The Rolling Stones
Nothing says Halloween like a song about Satan...but let’s be honest, this one is a good listen any ol’ time.
21. “The Freaks Come Out At Night” By Whodini
An example of old school hip hop at its finest that just so happens to be a perfect fit for a costume party playlist.
22. “Little Drop Of Poison” By Tom Waits
Tom Waits’s raspy growl is pretty spooky no matter what he’s singing about—but when the lyrics revolve around poison, you’ve got a Halloween winner.
23. “Lake Of Fire” By Nirvana
“Where do bad folks go when they die? / They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly / They go to a lake of fire and fry…” OK, so the end of the chorus mentions the Fourth of July, presumably for rhyming purposes, but we can all agree that Nirvana’s cover of the Meat Puppets’ song has Halloween written all over it. (Right?)
24. “Gimme Danger” By The Stooges
A writhing, shirtless (duh) Iggy Pop begs for danger against guitar that is best described as, well, Raw Power...need we say more?
25. “Werewolves Of London” By Warren Zevon
Who knew werewolves paired so well with upbeat '70s keyboard? Whimsical Warren Zevon, that’s who.
26. “Day Of The Lords” By Joy Division
There’s no better way to create a gothic atmosphere than by turning on pretty much any tune from Joy Division—and this one will certainly do the trick.
27. “Ava Adore” By The Smashing Pumpkins
Synth-pop sounds with a gothic vibe and a solid dose of '90s nostalgia—it’s a recipe for Halloween magic.
28. “Ghostbusters” By Ray Parker Jr.
Everyone knows the ghosts come out on Halloween and...who you gonna call? (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)
29. “Monster Mash” By Bobby ‘boris’ Pickett And The Crypt-kickers
This 1960s classic is a staple of every Halloween playlist, and we probably don’t need to explain why.
30. “Witchy Woman” By The Eagles
As the kings of soft country rock, The Eagles are likely not the first band that comes to mind when you think of Halloween. They did, however, write a chart-topping song about a witch and it’s (unsurprisingly) quite catchy.
31. “I Want Candy” By Bow Wow Wow
Bow Wow Wow’s 1982 anthem might as well be an ode to trick-or-treating.
32. “Halloween Theme” By John Carpenter
You don’t even need to watch the slasher movie to get scared silly, since it has one of the spookiest scores of all time.
33. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” By Blue Oyster Cult
If you’re looking for a song that fits the Halloween theme and will also stay stuck in your head until Christmas, Blue Oyster Cult has got you covered.
34. “Black Magic Woman” By Santana
Turn on this sexy and soulful number from Santana, and you’ll change up the vibe without straying from the theme.
35. “Welcome To My Nightmare” By Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper wants you to take a nocturnal vacation. (We’ll let you decide if that’s sexy or spooky.)
36. “I Put A Spell On You” By Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
There are countless covers of this classic blues song by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, but none can match the creepiness of the original.
37. “People Are Strange” By The Doors
A great song in any season, but particularly well-suited for a celebration of all things strange.
38. “Halloween” By Siouxsie And The Banshees
Siouxsie Sioux is basically the unofficial queen of Halloween, so it should come as no surprise that she wrote a rockin’ song about the occasion.
39. “Evil Woman” By Electric Light Orchestra
Just try not to dance to this snazzy '70s number from Electric Light Orchestra—the bad vibes are wicked good.
40. “Halloween Parade” By Lou Reed
A holiday narrative sung in the nonchalant monotone you’d expect from Lou Reed—reserve this one for your Halloween party wind-down.
41. “A Nightmare On My Street” By DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Will Smith lays down some serious bars about his terrifying encounter with Freddy Krueger in this 1988 single. Prepare to sleep with the lights on...
42. “Disturbia” By Rihanna
An oldie but goodie, this horror-themed single still stands as a Halloween staple. As the song says, "Watch out, you might just go under..."
43. "I Put a Spell On You" By Bette Midler
As much as we love the original version, we'll admit, Midler's version from Hocus Pocus is just as spooky.
44. "Superstition" By Stevie Wonder
Because it's not Halloween season without bizarre superstitions and spooky traditions.
45. "The Addams Family Theme" By Vic Mizzy
The iconic theme song is incredibly fun to sing along to, and it perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween. *Snap snap.*
46. "Monster" By Lady Gaga
A song about falling for a charming guy with "evil eyes" and bad intentions? Yep, that's definitely fitting for your Halloween playlist.
47. "Boogie Monster" By Gnarls Barkley
"It waits till the midnight hour to come / To torture me for the wrong that I've done / It just sits there and stares at me / And it won't let me get any sleep..." That verse alone gives us chills.
48. "I Got 5 on It (Tethered Remix)" by Luniz and Michael Marshall
With the release of Us, Jordan Peele introduced this creepy remix of a hip-hop classic we never knew we needed. We still can't look at scissors the same way.
49. "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell
The upbeat but spine-chilling classic about constantly being watched will take you straight back to the '80s.
50. "Nightmare" by Halsey
Up for a scary track that simultaneously tackles real-life, hot-button issues? Look no further than Halsey's powerful anthem.
51. "Shadows Of The Night" By Pat Benatar
Arguably one of Benatar's best songs, you'll want to keep this timeless track on repeat.
52. “Dracula’s Wedding” By Outkast (feat. Kelis)
Welcome to Dracula's wedding, where thirsty vampires are aplenty. (No judgment if you decide to play this one at your own ceremony.)