Recess made a Halloween playlist so you don’t have to

Halloween is around the corner, and you don’t have a playlist yet. No worries, reader — our first-year writers have compiled their go-to Halloween songs below, a frighteningly refreshing mix of pop hits and deep cuts guaranteed to impress your friends. So take “Monster Mash” off repeat and plug into these spooky tunes:

“All The Good Girls Go To Hell,” Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is known for her quirky, dark songs, qualities that perfectly match any good Halloween. Among her works, none convey that spooky feeling better than “All The Good Girls Go To Hell.” It may be a little odd, but it definitely sets a mood. 

“Freaking Me Out,” Ava Max

While “Freaking Me Out” may not be the traditional vibe one looks for in a Halloween song, Ava Max certainly makes up for it with a plethora of haunted imagery. Think abandoned mansions, sPoOkY ghosts and empty hallways. What more can you want for Halloween?

“Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor Swift

Revenge and Halloween go hand in hand. (Isn’t that the plot for, like, every horror movie?) So why not Taylor Swift’s payback anthem “Look What You Made Me Do” for your friendly neighborhood Halloween playlist? The song has just the right mixture of fun and dark to fit right in.

—Jonathan Pertile, staff writer

“Knives Out,” Radiohead

Off of Radiohead’s fifth album, Amnesiac, “Knives Out” captures the desperation of cannibalism with eerie vocals and meandering guitar lines. Thom Yorke’s lyrics evoke the loneliness and anger involved in the desire to consume. The song is the sigh of the drive home after a long night of Halloween shenanigans.

“Hajnal,” Venetian Snares

“Hajnal” fuses the haunting strings of Hungarian classical music with the contorted drum sequences of breakcore. Venetian Snares’ signature style of experimental electronica involves complex asymmetrical rhythms and eclectic samples — components that are fully present in the song. It’s an unsettling and tense listen for Halloween night.

“Psycho Killer,” Talking Heads

“Psycho Killer” is dubbed the Talking Heads’ signature debut hit– with a driving drum section and catchy vocals, it’s the perfect jam for all Halloween party sing-a-longs. The lyrics narrate the thoughts of a serial killer, which is certainly an odd, but appropriate subject for the night.

—Courtney Dantzler, staff columnist

“Evan Finds the Third Room,” Khruangbin

If setting the mood is the game, Khruangbin would be the champion. “Evan” brings about a fierce rhythm and funk that begs you to groove along to the music, invoking the feeling of a timidly-spooky, kinda-chill party where we’re all just relaxing and sharing tales of relationships gone badly and significant others from hell.

“New Love Cassette,” Angel Olsen

Olsen’s soft voice makes a great case for a serial killer in disguise, softly rumbling through the air with a tender tune that takes a turn for the eerie with an orchestra piercing through the track like knives into memory foam. If a loving caress could kill, this would be that caress. Listen to the lyrics and assume a pessimist’s stance and things will only become scarier.

“Planet B,” King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

“Baby Jesus sheds a tear”? With the current state of things it seems perfectly reasonable. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard bring about the brutally honest nature of the current world, its failures and depressing realities put on a pedestal for the rest of us to observe and lament over. Cheap scare tactics are outdated now — what really should get us all trembling is the world’s future.

—Alex Leo-Guerra, staff columnist

“Thriller,” Michael Jackson

“Thriller” is an absolute Halloween classic, complete with werewolves howling, dark synths and a groovy beat. No Halloween is complete without this iconic song.

“The Monster,” Eminem and Rihanna

The Monster is a great rap song to add variety to your Halloween night. The dynamic duo of Rihanna and Eminem makes this song a nice danceable and upbeat track to get the party going.

—Derek Chen, staff writer

“Waking the Witch,” Kate Bush

A woman is drowning after a shipwreck, and “Waking the Witch” is what she hallucinates: a monstrous voice threatens to burn her at the stake, as she stutters, shrieks and chants “deus et dei domino inferno” (Latin for “God and Gods of the underworld”). Kate Bush’s use of vocal editing on her masterpiece album “Hounds of Love” appears at its most violent and theatrical on this back-half track, amid clanging church bells, anxious synths and classic ‘80s gated reverb snares.

“Dum Surfer,” King Krule

“Dum Surfer” is the updated “Monster Mash”: danceable, spooky and a thousand times darker than the family-friendly tune. Archie Marshall, the artist behind the King Krule moniker, already has a sinister bass voice, so when it’s accompanied by devilish laughs and sleazy imagery, the result is a perfectly disturbing, Twin Peaksian jazz gem — witness it for yourself in the music video.

“The Vampire,” Buffy Sainte-Marie

“Shall I tell you of the night,” Buffy Sainte-Marie opens, as if seated beside a campfire, guitar in hand, beckoning her audience to pay heed of her encounter, under a full moon on a chilly late November night, with a mysterious, empty-eyed man walking alone on the road: a vampire. The folk singer-songwriter, whose catalog in the ‘60s and ‘70s ranged from mystical storytelling to trenchant political commentary, sings with a trembling, haunted vibrato as, over the course of the song, she is transformed into a vampire herself. 

—Stephen Atkinson, staff writer

“A Haunted House,” Jon Bellion

Hauntingly slow and personal, this is the second song Bellion released that is set only to gentle piano chords. He compares his heart to a house haunted by the ghosts of his past lovers, and croons his thanks to the new woman in his life for unwrapping his mummified soul and playing the role of a Ghostbuster by chasing the spirits of his nightmares away. This is a great listen for when you want to get in the Halloween mood, but don’t want to break out your party shoes. 

“Maneater,” Daryl Hall & John Oates

Half the fun of “spooky szn” is watching outdated, “scary” movies with friends, and this track plays right on that cliche. Released Oct. 31, 1982, the singable and danceable “Maneater” was intended to rock Halloween party-goers until the end of time, and it does just that: this head-bobbing classic (a combination of jazz, blues, and pop) contains lyrics packed with clever one-liners crooned by Hall, is set to a beat led by bass and synth, and even includes a brassy 43-second sax solo. 

“Halloween,” Jon Bellion 

A song off Bellion’s second album “The Separation,” “Halloween” is an upbeat, naughty call for irresponsibility and fun for your Halloween night. In this cheeky combination of rap and pop, Bellion does what he does best: he effortlessly transitions between instruments (piano, percussion and synth, to name a few) and musical styles, leaving you eager to hear what is coming next. 

—Danica Schwartz, contributing writer

“House of the Rising Sun,” Lauren O’Connell

In this folk song made popular by The Animals in the ‘60s, Lauren O’Connell’s soft, sultry voice and ominous strings add an element of mystery fitting for Halloween. O’Connell emphasizes the imagery of this classic rock song to show the fear associated with alcoholism, sin, and we mustn’t forget — a haunted house. 

“Maneater,” Blue Eyed Blondes

No, not the Hall & Oates song. Telling the story of an unfaithful man, a vengeful woman and the bloodshed of uncovering the truth, this southern gothic ballad contains the eerie gore one craves during the Halloween season. In addition to the macabre lyrics, the haunting stomps, raspy voice, prominent bass and creeping harmonies gives listeners the chills that come with guilt and murder.

“Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” The Smashing Pumpkins

Embracing angst, mischief and alternative identities, Halloween may be dubbed the “teenager’s holiday.” In this classic ‘90s grunge anthem, The Smashing Pumpkins embody the rebellion that drives Halloween pranks and, for one night of the year, acceptable irresponsibility. The powerful electric guitars and emo lyrics encourage all to take Halloween — and every day —  as an opportunity to break out of their “cage.”

—Skyler Graham, staff writer


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