Quentin Rice, Staff Writer
Halloween playlists are stale. Everywhere you turn, hearing “Thriller” and the “Ghostbusters” theme song is inevitable. But there are many genuinely creepy sounds out there that are seldom played in October. Here’s some of my thinking behind the unorthodox picks that show up on my Halloween 2019 playlist.
‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ / ‘Psycho Killer’
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” delivers a kitsch gothic atmosphere and cookie-cutter lyrics drenched in vampiric imagery, making it an oft-snubbed staple to any Halloween playlist.
Likewise, with “Psycho Killer,” The Talking Heads created one of rock music’s most memorable basslines and strained, neurotic lyrics that a serial killer could have written.
‘Kids See Ghosts’ / ‘Who Dat Boy’
Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s 2018 collaboration “Kids See Ghosts” sports a surprisingly creepy atmosphere, with insidious droning synths and menacing, airy clicks. It’s unclear what exactly “kids see ghosts” means, but on Halloween, it’s a reference to “The Sixth Sense.”
Tyler, the Creator and A$AP Rocky’s “Who Dat Boy” is as terrifying as it is fun. Abrasive, dissonant horn synths drive forward as the former aggressively asks “Who dat boy? Who him is?” In the music video, Tyler blows his face off working on some sort ot machine, and he visits Rocky to have a white face sewn onto his own.
‘Closer’ / ‘Burn the Witch’
Nine Inch Nails’ medical nightmare of a video for “Closer” features a monkey on a crucifix, a human heart pulsing to the beat and Trent Reznor himself suspended in chains sporting S&M fetish gear. The music is driven by a heartbeat-like bass drum, bubbly synths and Reznor’s deviously erotic vocals.
Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” delivers a witchy aesthetic with ritualistic cadence and paranoid string arrangement. Thom Yorke’s shaky vocals capture the feeling of the times as he neurotically warns, “This is a low-flying panic attack.”
‘Hell Hound on my Trail’ / ‘Devil Man’
Robert Johnson is the legendary delta blues singer who co-founded the 27 club and modernized the Faustian bargain. Legend tells that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for unmatched guitar skills. His haunting wails, often about the devil, still conjure images of his fateful night with Satan.
Charles Manson recorded quite a bit of music before he was known as the bandleader of the murderous Manson family. “Devil Man” reads like a cautionary tale against himself, warning his “children” to flee before any blood is spilled. Sporting a scratchy, lo-fi sound similar to Johnson’s, these two tracks make the perfect ending to any Halloween.
Listen to Quentin’s picks for this year’s Halloween playlist here: https://tinyurl.com/y3b3m96v