We would like to celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year by taking the time and looking back at some of the best Halloween inspired music in rock. Well, they all might not have been directly inspired by the holiday itself, but they fit in with the time of the year like butter on a biscuit. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some songs that are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit!
Highway to Hell – AC/DC
Leave it to one of the original hard rock heavy hitters to churn out one of the most memorable – and quintessential – hard rock anthems of all time. Sung by the late original AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, Highway to Hell has all the ingredients that made the band one of the most successful in the world. With an awesomely juicy riff that can rival most anything else in classic rock, a screaming solo as only Angus Young can deliver, and a hook that’s equal parts “sacrilegious” as it is pure rock and roll, this song is not only a must for Halloween but for just about any party that needs a good kick in the rear!
Halloween – The Misfits
Honestly, you can probably make an entire Halloween-themed playlist off of what horror punk rockers have delivered over the years but this particular song takes the cake simply because it’s named after the holiday! The single by the band, Halloween was released appropriately enough on October 31, 1981, on singer and frontman Glenn Danzig’s label, Plan 9 Records. If you’ve never come across the song, do yourself a favor and check it out right now, but make sure you don’t accidentally stumble upon the countless cover versions by bands such as AFI, NOFX, Mudhoney, Dropkick Murphys, Alkaline Trio and many more. Actually, you should probably check some of those out too as some actually give the original a run for its money. First released as part of the 1981 EP 3 Hits From Hell, Halloween was originally planned to be included on an unreleased album that was eventually scrapped after The Misfits replaced guitarist Bobby Steele in favor of Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. It has been subsequently released in ’85 on the compilation album Legacy of Brutality, in ’95 as part of Collection II and more recently in ’96 as part of the Misfits box set. Anyways, make sure this one gets on that playlist!
Monster Mash – Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers
You knew this one was coming. If there was ever such an award for the one song that captures the spirit of this holiday more than anything else, it would hands down go to this song. Seriously, when other than Halloween does anybody even consider playing it? A novelty of a song if there was ever such a thing, this 1962 perennial Halloween hit is by far the best-known song by aspiring actor turned musician Bobby Pickett. It was first released as a single on Gary S. Paxton's Garpax Records label along with a full-length LP called The Original Monster Mash, which contained several other monster-themed songs, and it was a big one. How big was it? How about hitting the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart on October 20 of that year, just in time for Halloween!
Thriller – Michael Jackson
We all know the song. We all know the man. Heck, some of us out there probably even know the dance! Released on the bestselling album ever by the same name, those out there who were around during the debut of the Thriller’s equally impactful music video will tell you that the first few minutes Michael’s masterpiece – specifically the part where he turns into a pretty convincing Teen Wolf – was just about as scary as a horror movie got. Granted, the special effects used on Thriller’s music video haven’t aged that well (kind of cheesy by today’s standards) and people probably scared a lot easier back then, but it still remains a lifelong classic and a perfect addition to anyone’s Halloween soundtrack!
This Is Halloween – Marilyn Manson
Most of you out there probably remember the original version of this very catchy song from the equally memorable movie, 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s this revamped Manson version that really hits it home – mainly because it rocks so much harder! While the original Danny Elfman (who you might remember as the man behind an absurd amount of memorable songs such as the themes for The Simpsons, Batman, and Beetlejuice) creation was perfectly suited being sung by the residents of Halloween Town for the movie, Manson does it one better by providing his own take on what was – I believe – originally a song meant for kids. Released as part of the 13th anniversary of the film’s soundtrack, Mason wasn’t even the only one on that record who covered the song – such as Panic! At The Disco – but his rendition stands out from the rest thanks to the dark tone he and the rest of Marilyn Manson infuse so well.
Nosferatu – Blue Oyster Cult
It would be easy to go with Blue Oyster Cult’s more memorable “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” but the reason I decided to go with Nosferatu on this one is not only because vampires and Halloween are about as made for each other as it gets, but it’s actually a great song that has never really gotten the attention it deserves. The band itself thrives on guitar driven rock that sounds like it was made for the occult but with Nosferatu (which is the German equivalent of Count Dracula), they take it to a whole other level. First released on their 1977 album, Specters, Nosferatu might sound like something out of the soundtrack for a B-ranked horror movie but it is still quintessential Blue Oyster Cult. Simply listening to the openings lyrics – Deep in the heart of Germany/ Lucy clutched her breast in fear/ She heard a beat of her lover's heart/ For weeks she raved in dreams he appeared/ From far off Transylvania – is enough to make it on just about anyone’s Halloween playlist.
Well, there you have it – just a few of our personal favorites for the holiday although there are still plenty, plenty more, some of which I will list at the bottom. Happy Halloween!
Other Halloween songs that rock:
I Was A Teenaged Werewolf – The Cramps
Lullaby – The Cure
The Ghost Song – The Doors
This House Is Haunted – Alice Cooper
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
Werewolves in London – Warren Zevon
Dragula – Rob Zombie
Witchy Woman – The Eagles
Season of the Witch – Donovan
Bark at the Moon – Ozzy Osbourne
Shout at the Devil – Motley Crue
NOFX – Halloween
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What are some of your favorite Halloween appropriate rock songs?