Playlist: Reviving The Halloween Playlist

Sick of doing the monster mash? Here’s a plethora of tracks which you’re unlikely to hear at a club’s ‘Halloween Special’, but are guaranteed to give you an authentic night.


Best known for its iconic and controversial video (which was once subversively broadcast in Times Square), Richard D. James’ hugely successful 1997 hit ‘Come To Daddy’ was ironically originally produced as a joke, a parody of heavy metal and its associated darkness. However, irony or no, the video’s undeniably disturbing aesthetics coupled with the garbled cries and refrain of “I want your soul” mean it’s probably best not to play the track around your grandma. Or do, if you’re like that.


Arguable the most eccentric moment on an eccentric artist’s magnum opus, Kate Bush’s ‘Waking the Witch’ falls early in The Ninth Wave, the tale of surviving a night alone in the ocean which comprises the second side of her bestselling 1985 LP Hounds of Love. Numerous hushed voices implore Kate to remain conscious, before her horrifically rhythmic chopped-up cries of “help me” kick the song into creepy call and response with a demonic voice reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Trial’. One of the more barmy moments on an ornately immaculate albums, but an ideal edition to a Halloween playlist.


Metallica may be an upsetting playlist edition to some, just as choosing a song from their divisive 1999 ‘with orchestra’ album S&M is likely to upset a lot of Metallica fans, but to hell with it. Replete with monster-movie strings and earth moving horns, there’s little more monumental and expansive in recorded music history than the opening instrumental, a 9-minute ode to Lovecraft’s most famous deity.


‘Werewolves of London’ tracks the misadventures of the “hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent”, as he fulfils his insatiable appetite for chow-mein and the flesh of pensioners on the streets of Britain’s capital. Obvious though it may be, it offers the opportunity to howl like a voracious midnight predator at every chorus and remains a must have on any Halloween playlist.


Not the most Halloween-y of artists, legendary avant-garde figure Laurie Anderson nonetheless frequently employs a creepily melancholic tone. On 2010 comeback album Homeland, the song ‘Another Day in America’ balances between deadpan humour and apocalyptic despair, her trademark processed vocals slowed into a masculine drawl as she considers new forms of punctuation, familial relations and the state of America today.


No Halloween playlist could be complete without the bard of the macabre, Mr Nicholas Cave, and with so many to choose from (the Scream-appropriating ‘Red Right Hand’, the wife-stealing violence of ‘John Finn’s Wife’, the entirety of the Murder Ballads album) this list could be entirely comprised of his work. However, rather than the obvious, we have ‘Watching Alice’, from the’88 album Tender Prey. What starts as a romantic tune takes an unexpected sharp turn into voyeurism, then has the gall to retain its romantic tone – albeit with a pitiful lead character. Also features the most beautiful use of a maudlin harmonica in memory.


Okay, it’s got a big, long intro. But isn’t that part of the magic? In this classic track, Pink Floyd gives the listener a master class in both building tension and creating a very real, haunting atmosphere. Not exactly a song for pre-drinks, ‘Time’ is best appreciated with headphones in and lights off.


Of all the dark, disturbing albums, The Haxan Cloak’s 2013 Excavation is possibly the most suffocating. The audio equivalent of dying, Excavation is 50 haunting minutes of drowning in expanding bass rumbles, intercut only with nerve-shredding drones and human cries. It’s hard to pick a track when the album works best as a pessimistic whole, but the two part title track probably best encapsulates the hypnotic unpleasantness…


While the link may seem strenuous to some, the lyric ‘Django, you drag your coffin around’ fits the bill pretty well. It’s definitely a freaky enough image to be a Halloween hit. It’s also lively enough to prevent your halloween party from being a complete flop.


A chilling song, ‘Howl’ is one of the standout tracks from Florence and the Machine’s debut album, Lungs. Featuring icy piano chords, an insistent drum beat and macabre lyrics about ‘tasting your beating heart’, this tribal-sounding foot-tapper may also make you want to run a mile. However, the way it builds to a now identifiably Florencian crescendo is brilliant and the track’s haunting sounds stay with you for a long while post-listen.

Tom Watchorn, James Noble, David Rowlands, Jacob Banks and Alexander Nicholson

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