The top 11 classic-alternative Halloween songs
Written by admin on October 25, 2012
Amidst creating a perfect costume (after trying to decide whether I would prefer to dress as Rik from The Young Onesâ€ or Baldrick) and creating this yearâ€™s Revenge of the 80s radio Halloween music special, thoughts of great autumn holiday songs of years past turn to inspire a list of the Top 11 Halloween songs of the classic alternative era. Criteria for this lineup includes song quality, Halloween themes, staying power and place in music history:
11. “Pet Cemetery” â€“ Ramones
Ironically, the mellowest of the Ramonesâ€™ hits is the one they recorded for the 1988 horror thriller Pet Cemetery. The track closed out the flick, with the video featuring band members walking and playing amongst a graveyard. It was covered live by several bands, including Blondie during its fall 2010 tour.
10. “Devil in My Car” – B-52’s
The worldâ€™s top party band has a fun track for virtually all occasions, and this Halloween anthem comes complete with the Prince of Darkness changing seats and ripping up the upholstery. While the lyrics indicate they â€œdonâ€™t want to go to Hell,â€ Fred Schneider admitted (with the help of Kate Pierson) that the underworld was where they could have â€œthe hottest time in the darndest placeâ€ in his solo cut, â€œSummer in Hell.â€ Schneider celebrated Halloween last year with the release of â€œBatbabyâ€ with his quirky-cool band, The Superions.
9. “Halloween” â€“ The Dream Syndicate
Steve Wynnâ€™s signature voice adds an eerily enjoyable quality to The Dream Syndicateâ€™s music, so why not a Halloween song? Recorded for their 1982 album, The Days of Wine and Roses, â€œHalloweenâ€ became a college radio holiday-time staple and continues to win airplay on alternative radio venues.
8. “Halloween” â€“ Siouxsie and the Banshees
From their influential Juju album, Siouxsie and the Banshees convey the inner thoughts of a lost soul. While the subject reflects upon his/her life, Siouxâ€™ voice hypnotically rings out â€œHalloween, Halloweenâ€ like a siren that could have also captured the great Odysseus. Juju also featured two other Halloween-worthy songs, â€œVoodoo Daddyâ€ and â€œSpelbound.â€
7. “Draculaâ€™s Tango” â€“ Toto Coelo
The all-girl quartet made eating cannibals sound sexy, so they followed it up doing the same with Halloween horror. Their formula of punchy lines and percussion scored them a fall dance classic. Lyrics like â€œGot to get my teeth in you/necking is the thing to doâ€ can make a Halloween party hotter than the places where demons roam.
6.”I Walked With a Zombie” â€“ Roky Erickson
While walking with a zombie might be inadvisable, Roky Erickson seems like the guy, aside from the Dos Equisâ€™ â€œMost Interesting Man in the World,â€ who could pull it off. The founder of the 13th Floor Elevators suffered from mental illness for a while and later formed the science-fiction/horror-themed band Bleib Alien, which later became Roky Erickson and the Aliens. Among their celebrated cult creations is â€œI Walked With a Zombie,â€ which would later be covered by artists including REM, UK Subs and The Visitors.
5. “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” â€“ The Cramps
The Cramps consistent homage to horror and sci-fi cult films increase the bandâ€™s prominence during the Halloween season. “I Was a Teenage Werewolfâ€ is a reference to the 1957 Michael Landon film (yes, Mr. Ingalls himself). What places this track high on the Halloween list is Lux Interiorâ€™s brilliant and sensitive portrayal of a legendary hairy creatureâ€™s teenage problems, showing sensitive understanding of supernatural youth: â€œI had puberty rights/and puberty wrongs/no one understood me/All my teeth were so long.â€
4. “(Every Day Is) Halloween” â€“ Ministry
Before they became industrial/metal music titans, Ministry released several synth-pop classics, including their memorable â€œ(Every Day Is) Halloween. It became a lament for the goth crowd, as the song ponders lack of acceptance for those who are not mainstream personalities. Ministry re-released the track in 2010.
3.. “People Who Died” â€“ Jim Carroll Band
While not originally a Halloween track, its death theme and addition to the Dawn of the Dead (2004) movie soundtrack brought it to the season of warlocks, pumpkin pie and horror. â€œPeople Who Died,â€ from the bandâ€™s Catholic Boy album, is a tribute to his friends who passed before their time. Carroll did not sugar-coat the stories either, opening up with two tragic stories: â€œTeddy sniffing glue, he was 12 years old/fell from the roof on East 2-9/ Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug, 26 reds and a bottle of wine.â€ The cut is also featured in The Basketball Diaries, a 1995 film based on Carrollâ€™s life.
2. “Dead Manâ€™s Party” â€“ Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingoâ€™s name is as silly as its songs, yet, they were an excellent group of musicians. â€œDead Manâ€™s Partyâ€ is the title track to their fifth studio album (which also featured â€œWeird Scienceâ€), which was considered by many critics as its best-produced to date. While airplay comes mostly around the Halloween season, perhaps the track is best known for its prominence in the Rodney Dangerfield movie, Back to School.
1. â€œScary Monsters and Super Creepsâ€ – David Bowie
The name alone could merit placement on the top of many music-loverâ€™s top Halloween songs lists. It also sounds like it could describe the group I ran with in high school, but I must digress. The 1980 album of the same name was a blend of Bowieâ€™s recent foray into experimental music and a move back toward commercially-popular productions. This hybrid came together to form a critically-acclaimed history-making collection of songs that would influence and impact artists through today and, likely, beyond.