Perfect Halloween Music

A vampire, a witch, and a ghost are gathered around a cauldron when unsuspecting little children ring the doorbell. No, this isn’t a scary movie – it’s a Halloween party, and the characters are guests in costume drinking punch when trick-or-treaters come to the door. This scene is incomplete, however, without an ominous soundtrack.


Good Halloween music is hard to come by. It seems to be either too weird and creepy, or too cheesy and dumb. So what is the perfect music for Halloween? A mix of Halloween songs can’t be too creepy, nor can it be too goofy, because any good soundtrack for the day needs a mixture of both. The songs need to send chills up your spine while still reminding you of trick-or-treating in your Superman costume.

Perhaps the perfect Halloween song is an impossible task. However, there are several musical choices for Halloween parties that seem to pop up over and over again. Put together, the following songs are the perfect mix for Halloween – and a few of the songs have interesting stories that go with them, as well.


“Thriller” by Michael Jackson is the ultimate iconic Halloween song. It has scary voices, sounds of thunder and lightning, and creepy lyrics. It’s also impossible to listen to the song without it conjuring up images of Jackson’s famous music video. Nothing encompasses the creepiness of Halloween better than Michael Jackson dressed up like a monster, dancing to his classic ‘80s song.

The song almost never had its creepy appeal, though, because it was originally going to be called “Starlight,” The lyrics were going to be, “Starlight, starlight sun,” instead of “Thriller in the night.” It’s a good thing the writer, Rod Temperton, decided to change it. There is no way the music video and overall feel of the song could have been accomplished with the word “starlight” in the title.


A page from the medieval manuscript of Carmina Burana

Another classic Halloween song is “O Fortuna,” which has been covered by many different bands over the years. My favorite version is by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra from their album “Night Castle” and is actually called “Carmina Burana,” even though it’s a version of “O Fortuna.” This song is great for Halloween because it’s very dramatic and ominous. The electric guitar and violin in this version create a frantic feeling, and when paired with the choir singing in Latin, it makes you feel like something scary is about to happen.

The name “Carmina Burana” comes from the collection of poetry where “O Fortuna” originated. The original Carmina Burana collection was discovered in 1803 in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern, Bavari. Composer Carl Orff took 24 of the poems in this collection and wrote music for them in the 1930s, and it was a hit. The Latin lyrics in “O Fortuna” talk about the evils of fate, calling it “malevolent” and “monstrous.” This song is the most famous piece in the cantata, and it’s used a lot in today’s popular culture, like in movies or sports events.


Another classic Halloween song is “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” from Bach. Just hearing this organ music makes me think of haunted houses and vampires. The first notes send chills up your spine.

Bach wrote this song between 1703 and 1707. He was not widely known or famous until about the 19th century, when his music experienced a revival. Bach originally meant for this song to be played in a church, which is easier to identify about halfway through the piece, when the first ominous notes are over. The reason we think this song is so scary today is because of its use in popular culture, and also because big organs and Baroque music makes us think of vampires and the Phantom of the Opera.


Another classic Halloween song in a completely different musical genre is “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. It starts off not with ominous organ notes, but the sounds of a cauldron bubbling and a door creaking open. Nothing will make your guests at a Halloween party kick up their heels like this song.

This was released in 1962 when Bobby “Boris” Pickett was inspired to record it after his imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff at a show with his band the Cordials went over well with the audience. He was encouraged to do more with his imitation talents, so he recorded “Monster Mash.” This song was partly inspired by the Mashed Potato dance, which was very popular in the ‘60s and was similar to the twist. The sound effects were made on a low budget, such as the sound of the cauldron bubbling, which was actually someone blowing bubbles in water through a straw.


A more modern Halloween song is “Disturbia” by Rihanna. This doesn’t have the cheesy monster sound effects or creepy orchestra music like the other songs on this list, but it’s perfect for Halloween because it’s about fear. Just hearing the song won’t make you feel scared, but listening to the words brings to mind everything you’re afraid of.

This song was partially written by Chris Brown, and was originally considered to be on his album “Forever.” However, he decided it was better suited for a female and let Rihanna – who was his girlfriend then – sing it. Her music video to this song adds another level of creepiness to the song. I think it’s almost scarier than Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” because instead of monsters dancing around, Rihanna faces different fears, like wearing barbed wire, seeing spiders, or being trapped in a straitjacket. The video captured the essence of the song better for me than just listening to it did.

Scary music adds a great dimension to any Halloween party or a good soundtrack for the trick-or-treaters who come to your house. There is not one song that perfectly encompasses Halloween, so I had to choose several for the perfect Halloween mix. Played together, these songs conjure up images of monsters, fear, vampires, and haunted houses. What combination could be better for Halloween?

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One Comment on "Perfect Halloween Music"

  1. Lucy Garcias
    24/10/2010 at 11:17 pm Permalink

    I do believe a certain soundtrack should be put together for a certain upcoming event. Just words of wisdom.


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