The songs you should be monster mashing to this weekend
Author’s Note: We’re finally getting music involved in the blog. Below you’ll find the first entry in the Chin Music Playlists series, where I’ll try to find songs, albums or artists that fit well with different athletes, teams and events. This won’t have any schedule, just when some things come to mind. Each one will include a Spotify playlist with the songs we discuss at the bottom, to soundtrack your life. First up? Halloween
This year, and seemingly every year, I’m hosting a Halloween party at my apartment (no, you are not invited.)
And this year, and seemingly every year, I’ve been charged with compiling a playlist for the party. Now, I may have bestowed this particular honor upon myself, but I take it no less seriously because of that.
When it comes to holiday-themed music, Halloween may take the cake, as depressing as that sounds. I have a well-tread feud with Christmas music that will inevitably make an appearance in this space soon, and outside of the NFL on FOX theme song or Auld Lang Syne, there aren’t too many Thanksgiving or NYE jams (no disrespect meant to Arlo.)
The horror aspect of the holiday also blends well with all those visions of the occult that songwriters are so fond of, and it fits nicely for some heavy metal or hard rock imagery.
So without further ado, here are 10 songs for your hallowed hauntings:
1. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
If you don’t get some kind of primal enjoyment out of the “Ahhh–woo” in this song, I’m not sure I fundamentally trust you as a person.
It’s really the perfect song to kick off this list. It hits the monster movie angle right on the head, has an instantly catchy chorus (so infectious, in fact, that Kid Rock sampled it for a song that manages to annoy me every time it comes on the radio.)
In addition to its weapon as a singalong classic, it’s also got some great one liners littered in the lyrics. Zevon has always had this twistedly brilliant imagery to his tunes, but “I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s/And his hair was perfect” is among the best I’ve ever heard.
2. Thriller – Michael Jackson
Obviously, Werewolves of London could not be dethroned in my mind. But if there was any track that would have done it, it’s Thriller.
You can make an argument for more than a few tracks from MJ to find their way to this playlist. Beat It has as ominous an opening as any track out there, and really, the guy’s whole life was a horror show.
But there’s no topping Thriller.
Similar to the howl of Zevon, if you don’t know at least part of the dance for Thriller, it says something about you as a person. The music video is perhaps the greatest of all time, and there’s a reason it will be played at literally any Halloween party you find yourself at this weekend.
3. I Put a Spell on You- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (et. al)
There are no shortage of versions of this song to substitute in for Mr. Hawkins, but this is my list, and I like Screamin’ Jay’s version the best, if only because it’s by far the most fun to write. So here we are.
As if the lyrics of the song, essentially taking over the mind and/or heart of the person whom you so desire, aren’t terrifying enough, the vocals can make your skin crawl in the best of ways.
Add in some horns and a mean saxophone solo (I think that’s what that is) and its a recipe for a classic.
4. I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
I said we were going only to include one song from the King of Pop, but Michael Jackson loves creepy songs so much he managed to find a backdoor to a second appearance on this list.
This song is as creepy as it gets, or maybe it’s just paranoia. But no matter where young Rockwell, ne Kennedy William Gordy, he just can’t avoid the closely watching eyes of his stalker.
Who knows, maybe Michael Jackson is the stalker? That would certainly be something terrifying enough to make a subject for a song.
5. Ghostbusters Theme- Ray Parker Jr.
The ultimate in movie theme songs.
We’ll leave any/all discussion of the modern remake aside since anytime somebody mentions it the conversation ends up with me taking a long walk to find my faith in humanity once again, but the original is a classic. And this song conjures up such clear images of that movie and its cheesy glory that you can’t help but hear it and smile.
But Ray doesn’t find himself included in this renowned collection just because he’s linked to Bill Murray. Otherwise, I’d have to put music from Caddyshack on my summer playlist, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
No, this song is an earworm and jam in its own right. It’s catchy, memorable, and I still find myself responding with “Ghostbusters!” anytime someone asks any variation on the question “who ya gonna call?”
6. The Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers
I wasn’t going to name drop the song in the subhead and not include it on the list, was I?
This song is peak 50/60’s camp, but it somehow works perfectly to the tune’s advantage. The instrumentals feel worthy of your best Beatles Twist and Shout, and there’s something about the old-timey nature of the song that lends it an extra dose of winking creepiness.
It’s not exactly an edgy pick, but when it comes to golly-gee-whiz era Halloween songs, I’ll take The Monster Mash over Flying Purple People Eater any day of the week.
7. The Devil Went Down To Georgia – the Charlie Daniels Band
“The Devil went down to Georgia/He was looking for a soul to steal” sounds more like the intro to an old movie than to a country song, which alone is a great argument to be considered a Halloween gem.
But the song goes on to tell quite a yarn about that Southern Peach Johnny and his vicious violin stylings. And the good guy wins in the end! What more could you ask for?
As far I can tell, there are only two flaws in this one: First, why in the world would Johnny make this bet, his obvious skills not withstanding? A golden violin for one’s soul just doesn’t make any sense.
Second, despite its obvious appeal as one, I’ve yet to hear an actually enjoyable heavy metal cover of this song. That just seems to defy common sense. If you’re a young metal band, get on that.
8. Witch Doctor – David Seville
Sorry, I just really like saying “ooh-e-ooh-ah-ah-walla-walla-bing-bang” over and over again.
9. Psycho Killer – The Talking Heads
An American band singing in French is terrifying enough, but these people are even talking about murder.
To be fair, though, I think it might help me a killing when I get behind. When you look at the lyrics, I don’t think ol’ David Byrne is asking for that much. He just hates people when they’re not polite. Seems to be that if you just say please and thank you to the guy, he’ll leave you alone.
I’m with him. I take the T every morning and evening and people, and if I could eliminate everyone that was rude or annoying on the subway, my commute would be a lot more enjoyable.
10. Boris the Spider – The Who
Hey, Pete, what in God’s name is this?
I can’t help, but like this song, as much as it pains me to admit it because simply put, it’s just not a good song. It’s fun, it’s weird, but it sounds like a children’s song written by someone on acid. And given the Who’s reputation, maybe it is.
But I’m not going to get all high and mighty about a Halloween playlist. It’s a rock song by a great band about a spider, so I don’t see how I can leave it off. Welcome to the club, Boris.
Thanks for tuning in to the first Chin Music Playlist. For more, follow @MurraySportTalk on Twitter.