13 Creepy Halloween Songs

Boo! Scared you, didn’t I? It’s okay, you can admit it. After all, it’s Halloween and we’re all super-primed for spooks. Speaking of which, I love watching spooky movies this time of year (well, any time of year, really). And there are a bunch of songs sitting in my phone that turn my brain into its own little creepfest. Fittingly, here are the 13 creepiest (in no particular order).

  1. Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” Queens of the Stone Age: This is actually the song that inspired this list. That guitar that sounds like it’s down-tuned 20 octaves. It’s inhuman. That stabbing wah sound in the chorus. Josh Homme’s haunting vocals. It all makes me want to make my own horror movie just to put this song in it.
  1. Self Destruct,” Nine Inch Nails: Really, the entire Downward Spiral album could be the soundtrack to a spooky gorefest. After all, it was famously recorded in the infamous Sharon Tate house, where unspeakable horrors echo in the walls. This song starts with what sounds like somebody being tortured and a series of gunshots, which set the super-fast tempo and the unrelenting attack of those guitars and that drum machine and Trent Reznor’s screaming vocals. Then, around 1:45, everything goes quiet and whispery and we think we’ve left all the horror behind. But that’s what evil does. It lures you into a false sense of security. Then, after softly declaring himself the needle in the vein and other such lovely notions for a minute, things get crazy again. And it all ends in this loop of noise that just feels like oblivion.
  1. Creature of the Wheel,” White Zombie: More of those down-tuned, chugging guitars. Of course, the whole Astro-Creep: 2000 album was meant to be like a horror movie soundtrack. It’s filled with samples lifted from campy old horror flicks. I don’t think I’d ever want to actually see the creature at the wheel of whatever vehicle this is. But you can be sure you’d see it if Rob Zombie ever made a movie out of this song. And you’d have nightmares forever.
  1. Lullaby,” The Cure: Speaking of nightmares, can you imagine going to bed after listening to this lullaby? “Spider man is having me for dinner tonight.” I don’t think he’s talking about your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger. This one is softer and subtler than the rest. And often the subtler movies are the creepiest.
  1. 60 Feet Tall,” The Dead Weather: It’s that sort of disjointed beginning. Weird sounds, the drum roll, it all feels chaotic, like “what kind of crazy, creepy forest have I just stepped into?” Then Alison Mosshart starts singing. Slowly. She always has a cool darkness in her voice, but here it’s emphasized by the creepy dirge-like quality of the tempo in the first verse. Later, it speeds up and gets louder and the guitar goes nuts and it’s like, “Okay, now I see exactly what kind of creepy forest I’ve stepped into and I want my mommy!”
  1. Pioneer to the Falls,” Interpol: It might just be me, but this song gives me creepy chills every time, from the first dreary arpeggio. And it’s all because of Pet Sematary. The book, not the movie. I’m sure I’ll get into this more in a future blog post, but I was reading this book at a time I was madly obsessed with Interpol. The book is so creepy and sad and those feelings seeped into a lot of Interpol songs for me, like a demonic possession, but this one most of all. And Paul Banks’ mournful voice didn’t hurt. Which is to say, it hurts in the best possible, spooky way.
  1. The Forgotten (Part 1),” Joe Satriani: The godfather of shredders, Satriani included this two-part piece on his Flying in a Blue Dream album and it’s kind of relentless in its spookiness. It just doesn’t stop. It’s like you’re walking down an endless, dark hallway and none of the doors will open and you’re starting to panic. It’s only 72 seconds long, but it never lets up when you listen to it on its own. Part 2 is a bit more hopeful, but we don’t need hope in this list of doom.
  1. Burn the Witch,” Queens of the Stone Age: Like Freddy Krueger, Josh Homme is back. And invading our nightmares again! Actually, chronologically speaking, this song came first. Of course, there’s the witchy title. But it’s the kind of militaristic beat that creeps me out here. That “bomp! bomp!” on the first two beats. And also the fact that just last night I watched half of Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem so right now I’m super creeped out by witches, which were my weakness as a kid.
  1. Bowels of the Beast,” The Raveonettes: Again, it’s the slow, dirge-like tempo, and the minor key that bring on the chills here. And the sharp attack on the guitar. This band’s first album was all recorded in B minor. Their second was in B major. I always felt like they should’ve stuck with the minor keys.
  1. 4th of July,” Soundgarden: This is supposed to be a day of celebration, isn’t it? But Soundgarden used it chillingly to celebrate gloom. It just chugs along at its funereal pace for five minutes, leaving you with a Halloweeny sense of dread.
  1. New Damage,” Soundgarden: I blogged about this one in depth a while back. It’s spooky on its own, but this is another with a literary attachment for me – I was reading Dracula when I first fell in love with this song.
  1. Alarum,” The Tea Party: This is the first of two from The Tea Party’s move to a spookier, more electronic sound on their third album, Transmission. It sets the mood off the top with a trippy-scary vibe in the verse, before going into full-on violent, screaming attack mode in the chorus. And the inventive beats make everything feel chillingly unsettled.
  1. “Babylon,” The Tea Party: We’re getting into some John Carpenter territory here, with that bending, droning keyboard sound at the beginning. Again with the drums, Jeff Burrows this time sounds violent and aggressive – and the same could be said about Jeff Martin’s vocals in the chorus. Plus, this one has the most unsettling video of the bunch (with much respect to The Cure and “Burn the Witch”)…

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