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Spook-tacular Halloween Music

Expiration dates are a drag. They’re nothing but added pressure from Father Time to drink that milk, eat that cheese and avoid that salmonella, with each grain of sand that slips through his novelty-sized hourglass acting as an annoying tap on the shoulder. The only time I actually get excited by something with a “best before” date is when it comes to music. I am, for example, a sucker for Christmas carols. I practically have a red sharpie circle around a holiday-appropriate date where I can finally pull out my A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, Just Say Noel and A Twisted Christmas albums. And I will play those songs until I become the personification of that sad house who left the Christmas lights up too long.

I feel the same way about Halloween, an expiration date that has more to do with blood-curdling screams and nothing to do with curdling milk.

I adore Halloween. And my love for the spooky and ooky doesn’t start or end with the Addams Family. I don’t ever get tired of people saying “boys and ghouls,” I enjoy a monster themed pun, and a narration by Vincent Price is icing on any musical cake. As of right now, I may have less than a week to cram in this music, but I’m going to pack it in tighter than the dirt on a freshly filled grave.

Clearly any album curated by Elvira, some spoken word from Vincent Price or Boris Karloff will definitely get you in the spirit and perhaps even get you some spirits, but if you want to embrace Halloween to the fullest, you should check out these songs:

‘Nightmare on My Street’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

You are crazy if you don’t listen to this song at least once this month. Park yourself on your sofa in your favorite striped sweater and fedora for a Robert Englund movie marathon and get it started in the dreamiest way possible with this Fresh Prince rhyme.

‘Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en’ by North American Hallowe’en Prevention, Inc.

Straight out of the creepiest corners of Canada, this single came out on Vice Records in 2005 and features Feist, Peaches, Buck 65, David Cross and members of Rilo Kiley, Sloan, Sonic Youth and the Arcade Fire. Along with Elvira herself. Buck 65 has another great Halloween-y song in ‘Zombie Delight’.

‘The Headless Horseman’ by Kay Starr

There are a lot of versions of this song to choose – Disney’s version sung by Bing Crosby is doubtlessly the most popular. But it’s mid-century pop and jazz songstress Kay Starr who delivers the most charming version of Ichabod Crane’s tale, backed by the Billy Butterfield Quintet and Three Beaus and a Peep.

‘Swingin’ at hte Séance’

Johnny Long Orchestra

There are a number of swell big band and orchestra Halloween numbers, but this ranks among my favorites. The Jeff Alexander Orchestra did some great stuff on Alfred Hitchcock’s Music to be Murdered By album, and Red Nichols & His Five Pennies do a lovely ‘Haunting Blues’ that’s worth tracking down.

‘The Werewolf Watusi’

Bobby “Boris” Pickett

He’s best known for the Monster Mash, but the Watusi is the move I like to bust most often. Don Hinson and the Rigamorticians actually did a version of this song, too. In fact, Between Pickett, Hinson and Frankie Stein, there were also fox trots, twists, mashed potatoes and pretty much every other dance you can think of. ‘Introducing Frankie Stein and His Ghouls’ is basically like one incredibly wacky season of Dancing with the Stars.


Milton Delugg

At the Monsters Ball

Long before Lady GaGa even thought to RSVP, Milton Delugg was elbow deep in pumpkin canapés and bloody marys the Monster’s Ball. He excels at hummable holiday numbers and has some memorable Christmas tunes, too! This song is also a great high concept couples costume. It would take very little effort; just a few sighs and a dance break between loving coos to Dimitri, Dimitri, Dimitrrrri.

‘Beware of The Blob’ by The Five Blobs

While the theme songs to Halloween and Friday the 13th are definitely more macabre than this bouncy Bacharach song will grow on you and grow on you and grow on you, and…. Oh no!

‘I Wanna Be Evil’ by Eartha Kitt

While not a Halloween song per se, ‘I Wanna Be Evil’ is spookily sexy thanks to Earth Kitt’s growls and purrs. This one doesn’t ever go out of style.

A little bit harder to find, but perfect for nights by the candy bowl are Spooky Music for Spooky Occassions from Columbia Playtime, and ‘Hiding From Spooky’ from one of the Harvey Comics singles from the early 1970s, wherein a 45 would come in a bag with a Casper or Richie Rich comic. This song is about Spooky, who is a “tough little ghost,” and I like it better than the one for Casper. Wendy the Witch also has a little tune!

You can read more from Melissa Buote on her blog.

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