Autumn, fall season, October. There are many names for this time of year. But over the years, this month has earned another moniker: spooky season, lovingly redubbed courtesy of the Halloween aficionados. And thanks to the rebranding, this season has become an amalgamation of several things, resulting in cozy sweaters and apple-picking being paired with sugary treats and scary stories, topped off with a wave of ’90s and early 2000s nostalgia that manifests in the form of movie nights. What really stands out about this season, however, is its ability to bring people joy, and boy isn’t that sorely needed this year?
So without further ado, here are five songs that offer the perfect way to bring in the spooky season. Spoiler alert: there’s a little something for everyone.
Ray Parker Jr – ‘Ghostbusters’
Kicking things off with one of the most iconic songs to have ever been written and performed, Ray Parker Jr’ ‘Ghostbusters’ is the one song that every Halloween playlist must have to be complete. The song was used as the theme for the equally iconic 1984 film of the same name starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. ‘Ghostbusters’, the song not film, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually reaching number one and staying there for three weeks, additionally hitting some impressive positions on charts worldwide. For all its success, which included a nomination for Best Original Song at the 57th Academy Awards, ‘Ghostbusters’ ran into some trouble when a lawsuit alleged the track plagiarized Huey Lewis and the News’s song ‘I Want a New Drug’. Thankfully, the matter was settled with Lewis receiving a settlement, and the song went on to cement its position as one of the greatest spooky songs of all time.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – ‘A Nightmare on My Street’
October and Halloween bring out the nostalgia in full, and nothing embodies that quite as well as this epic yet oft-overlooked number featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince himself. The song samples Charles Bernstein’s musical motif from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, firmly rooting it in the spooky songs category. The song was the third single of the duo’s second studio album, ‘He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper’, and it soon became a crossover hit in the country, reaching #15 on the Hot 100. The track was even considered for the movie ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master’, but the film’s producers decided against using it. A shame, as seeing the visuals of these two worlds colliding would have yielded something our little spookster brains could probably not handle.
Another unfortunate part of this tale is that New Line Cinema, copyright holders of the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ film franchise, sued the duo’s label for copyright infringement, which in turn forced them to destroy the music video produced for the song. Both sides settled out of court, with vinyl pressings of the album ‘He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper’ later including a disclaimer that reads, “[This song] is not part of the soundtrack…and is not authorized, licensed, or affiliated with the Nightmare on Elm Street films.” The video resurfaced in 2018, carrying the disclaimer.
‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ – ‘Time Warp’
Is Halloween complete without a night dedicated to rewatching ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’? And is a rewatching of the classic complete without a living room performance of ‘Time Warp’ alongside the cast? Featured in the 1973 rock musical classic, its 1975 film adaptation, and a 2016 TV production, the song is both an example and a parody of the dance song genre. Its lyrics contain step-by-step instructions on how to do the dance, the dance itself being an audience-participation activity that movie-goers participate in during screenings of the film. While originally of the spooky genre, the song has gone on to become popular at any event where you want to get people on their feet.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ – ‘This Is Halloween’
Let’s say it once more: is Halloween and any lists that go with it complete without the addition of a Tim Burton classic? The answer is no. And ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is up there as one of the greatest classics of our time, a stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film directed by Henry Selick and produced and conceived by Tim Burton based on a poem written by the latter over a decade prior to the film’s release. Who can forget the tale of Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, stumbling into Christmas Town, and becoming a skeletal figure obsessed with the cheery end-of-the-year holiday season? Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman, the voice of Skellington, also wrote the songs and score for the film, including the now-iconic ‘This Is Halloween’, performed alongside the residents of Halloween Town as they introduce the world to their Halloween-centered lifestyle.
Michael Jackson – ‘Thriller’
Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ is unique in that instead of being a classic song included in a Halloween-themed movie, the song’s music video itself was turned into a Halloween film starring Jackson as a character that raises the dead from their graves to participate in zombie dance all while Jackson slowly transforms into a creature of the night. Or does he?
Destination Jam is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained and grooving up top in lieu of feeling drained and losing the plot. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEAWW to refresh your mood every day!