54 Best Halloween Songs to Add to Your Costume Party Playlist
The best Halloween-themed tunes will add spine-tingling ambiance to your spooky soiree
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Cue the music
As we approach Halloween, you’ll want to get all your ducks in a row to make this spooky season the best yet. Planning a costume party? In addition to coming up with a top-notch costume idea and decking your halls with spooky decorations, you’ll need a playlist packed with the best Halloween songs.
Of course, you’ll want to include some oldies but goodies like “Thriller” and “Monster Mash,” but try to think outside the box as well. You can always include tracks that weren’t necessarily written with Oct. 31 in mind but exude haunting melodies or bring up horror-movie nostalgia. You might be surprised by how well they blend in with some of the tried-and-true classics. But wait—you’re not done yet! Once you’ve got your spooky songs downloaded and ready to go, check out these Halloween party games and other party ideas that your guests will be talking about long after the big bash is over.
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson
A must-have for any playlist of best Halloween songs, “Thriller” is iconic, with horror-movie actor Vincent Price’s sinister-sounding narration and Michael Jackson’s epic music video for the track. Really, it’s Halloween in song form, and we’ll never not start doing the “Thriller” dance when we hear it … even if we’re out in public. If you’ve ever wondered about our obsession with the undead, these are the origins of zombies and other assorted Halloween monsters.
“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
No matter how old you were in the ’80s, you can’t hear the title “Ghostbusters” without immediately asking, “Who you gonna call?” It may be the most fun theme song to any movie soundtrack. It’s silly, it’s fun and the song will always bring a smile to your face.
“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
Where else would a song about werewolves land except on a Halloween music playlist? This song was released in 1978 and originated out of a joke between Warren Zevon and his friend Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. It may have started out with a laugh, but it ended with success for Zevon, who scored a top 40 hit with “Werewolves of London.”
“Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte
In honor of one of the most fun Halloween movies of all time, shake up your Halloween music collection with “Jump in the Line,” which was featured on the Beetlejuice soundtrack. Not only is it a super fun song that basically commands everyone to dance, but it makes us reminisce about that hilarious Michael Keaton movie.
“Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett
It was, and still is, “a graveyard smash.” This classic tune was originally released in 1962, and it was destined for Halloween stardom. Along with the aptly named band The Crypt-Kickers, singer Bobby “Boris” Pickett brought everyone to the dance floor with this monster-themed song-and-dance craze. Combined with the “Monster Mash” choreography, this song is just plain fun.
“Halloween” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
With “Halloween” as the song title, how could we not include this Siouxsie and the Banshees track? At its core, this song is really more about missing carefree childhood days than ghosts and ghouls, but it’s still very much deserving of a spot on your Halloween playlist.
“Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell
This track is so utterly catchy, you might sing along with it well before considering just how paranoid the lyrics sound. “Somebody’s Watching Me” was Rockwell’s biggest hit (by a lot), but at least it stands the test of time in terms of being a great Halloween song. And it always makes us look behind us … just in case.
“Stranger Things” by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
Nostalgia lovers who enjoy a good scare can’t get enough of Netflix’s Stranger Things—and for good reason. It’s a fantastic ode to 1980s pop culture while being a smart, witty series. This creepy theme song is perfect for providing ambiance to your Halloween party while making everyone want to rewatch previous seasons of the show when they get home. You’ll also want to add these Halloween movies on Netflix to your must-watch list.
“Theme from Child’s Play” by Bear McCreary
So, we can’t promise you won’t have nightmares about Chucky if you include this theme song from the movie Child’s Play at your party, but it really is one of the best Halloween songs. Haunting and menacing at the same time, the song builds in intensity the same way a scary horror movie scene would. You won’t soon forget this melody. Child’s Play, by the way, is just one of the spooky Halloween movies you can find on Hulu.
“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads
It’s no surprise that this Talking Heads song was used as part of the soundtrack to the film My Friend Dahmer, based on the graphic novel of the author’s real-life high school friendship with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The song’s ominous title alone makes it perfect for any Halloween music playlist.
“Breathe Me” by Sia
Between Sia’s delicate vocals and the hauntingly beautiful melody, this song adds a dramatic touch to any playlist. The lyrics themselves aren’t spooky in any way, but the instrumentals are startling, just like a great horror movie. This song was used in the final scenes of the series Six Feet Under, which offered a glimpse at how each of the main characters eventually dies. Now that is eerie.
“A Rush of Blood to the Head” by Coldplay
A rush of blood to the head can make people do very unexpected things, as Chris Martin sings about in this Coldplay hit. Sounds like Halloween behavior to us! You never know what to expect when the spirits come out at night on Oct. 31 … and when you imbibe a few spirits of the other kind too.
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
We’d all like to steer clear of the Reaper on Halloween, but this song was used in a pivotal scene during the original Halloween movie, in which Jamie Lee Curtis is being stalked by the terrifying Michael Myers. Better yet, legend has it that Stephen King was inspired to write his novel The Stand after hearing this song. That makes it creepy enough to include on your Halloween playlist, don’t you think?
“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police
Lightening up the mood from the holiday’s dark imagery to its fun, magical aspects, this upbeat tune from The Police is absolutely perfect for your playlist. Not surprisingly, the song was used in the 2005 movie version of Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman. The film and the TV series it’s based on are, of course, about a witch, which makes this one of the best Halloween songs.
“I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone
Keeping with the magical theme, we have to include Nina Simone’s moody and iconic “I Put a Spell on You.” Hocus Pocus fans likely remember Bette Midler’s spin on this classic during a rip-roaring scene in the movie. Add Nina Simone’s sultry version for the music purists and Midler’s for the movie lovers. If you prefer a magical Halloween as opposed to a gory one, these witch movies are sure to enchant you.
“Magic” by The Cars
Here’s another fun one for lovers of ’80s nostalgia. The Cars released “Magic” in 1984 with a music video that made lead singer Ric Ocasek literally appear to walk on water across a backyard pool. (Music video magic!) If you want to add a little wizardry to your Halloween party, this is a must-add.
“Pet Sematary” by The Ramones
Written specifically for the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Pet Semetary, this Ramones track brings us right back to the spooky and scary for your Halloween playlist. King is reportedly a big Ramones fan, so having the band write and perform a song for one of his stories must have been a dream come true.
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival warns of bad times ahead with this classic song originally released in 1969. With lyrics like “I see the bad moon a-rising / I see trouble on the way,” it screams of scary stuff on the horizon. At least on Halloween, we’re anticipating ghosts and ghouls.
“The Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley
Sheb Wooley croons about the very unusual flying purple people eater in this song from 1958. More silly than scary, it’s a fun one for Halloween. Plus, how terrifying can the purple people eater be when he really only wants to be a rock ‘n’ roll star?
“Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones
This song taps into the darker side of humankind and was used on the soundtrack for Interview with the Vampire. It has been covered by countless other artists, including Ozzy Osbourne and Lucinda Williams, but we recommend going with the tune’s originators, The Rolling Stones.
“Day-O (Banana Boat Song)” by Harry Belafonte
This is another tune included on the Beetlejuice soundtrack that didn’t start out as a Halloween song but certainly makes us think of the holiday after watching the movie. In the infamous scene, Delia Deetz and her dinner party guests become possessed, singing and dancing to this very tune. Of course, communing with the dead doesn’t always go quite this well. For proof, check out these spooky Ouija board stories that will totally give you chills.
“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Calling all Scream fans: You know “Red Right Hand” from the franchise’s first three films. In fact, singer Nick Cave even recorded an updated version for Scream 3, which some people affectionately refer to as “Red Right Hand 2.” The menacing melody and vocals “scream” Halloween. Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves, and if you can’t either, you’ll definitely want to read these Halloween puns.
“Zombie” by The Cranberries
While the Irish alternative rock band is mostly known for its lilting vocals and melodies, “Zombie” has a much more intense sound. The song was written to memorialize the young victims of the Warrington bombings of 1993, but with its zombified title, it’s a no-brainer for any Halloween playlist.
“The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash
This Johnny Cash track is an apocalyptic tale about Judgment Day, which made it prime soundtrack material for the 2004 remake of George A. Romero’s horror movie Dawn of the Dead. You’ll notice the song in the movie’s opening credits.
“Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” by Ella Fitzgerald
Accompanied by Billy May & His Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald belts out the story of the Wicked Witch from the Land of Oz. It’s a toe-tapping tune that will be a fabulous addition to your party’s soundtrack.
“Happy Phantom” by Tori Amos
Tori Amos makes the afterlife sound positively whimsical in this song about how light and free she thinks she’ll feel after she has passed. If you’re summoning spirits on Halloween, chances are you’ll want to run into happy phantoms as opposed to angry ones.
“People Are Strange” by The Doors
Halloween often feels like the one day a year when “strangeness” is embraced, even though we’re all a little strange in our own way every single day. A cover of this hit from The Doors was included in the ’80s vampire flick The Lost Boys.
“Demons” by Imagine Dragons
We all have demons, some scarier than others, and that’s exactly what rockers Imagine Dragons are singing about in this hit single. Creepy demons and assorted evil spirits are decidedly a part of Halloween, landing this on the best Halloween songs list.
“Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” by Concrete Blonde
There’s never a better day than Halloween to bust out this bloody Concrete Blonde song from 1990. The accompanying video is also filled with scary horror-themed imagery, and it just sounds like the kind of music perfect for marching vampires.
“Hot Blooded” by Foreigner
Vampires and the like might be the cold-blooded sort, but we’ll throw some love to the land of the living with this 1978 track. Plus, it’s just a fun throwback song.
“Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf
Going back even further to 1968, Steppenwolf delivers the fun and brings the magic back with this catchy tune. Fun fact: The band recorded an alternate version of this song in which the first verse is almost unrecognizable.
“Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra
Where are our witches at? Beware of someone casting a spell on you this Halloween. Frank Sinatra croons about feeling bewitched by a love interest he adores.
“A Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
After the huge success of their hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith) decided to tackle ’80s horror movie bad boy Freddy Krueger with “Nightmare on My Street.” Their comical approach to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is hilarious and certainly party-worthy.
“Anthem” by Michael Abels
If the thriller Us freaked you out, Michael Abels probably contributed to that terror. His music for the film is so haunting and creepy that the instrumentals alone can make you want to jump out of your skin. Just take a listen here!
“This Is Halloween” by Danny Elfman and The Citizens of Halloween
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is so beloved among Halloween lovers, you simply have to include the fan-favorite song “This Is Halloween.” Even better, play this not-so-scary Disney movie in the background of your party for some fun Halloween imagery.
“Highway to Hell” by AC/DC
If you’re feeling a little devilish this year, “Highway to Hell” can be your Halloween anthem. The song was used in the Adam Sandler comedy Little Nicky, about the Devil’s sons escaping to earth, only to be lured back home by their not-so-bad little brother (played by Sandler).
“Dracula’s Wedding” by Outkast
Don’t worry if your invitation got lost in the mail, Outkast brings Dracula’s Wedding to all of us with this song. Featuring Kelis, the track is really about being scared of jumping into a relationship … which just might be more frightening than anything Halloween can throw at you.
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
We probably all feel a little superstitious on Halloween, so allow Stevie Wonder to belt out his feelings on the subject. Allegedly, he wrote the song to warn people about taking them a little too seriously. Still, we probably won’t walk under ladders anytime soon.
“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo
Written and produced by Danny Elfman for Oingo Boingo, “Dead Man’s Party” just feels like one of those songs that only could have happened in the ’80s. Interestingly, despite its mid-tempo beat, the song is about attending someone’s funeral, but it works just as well for Halloween.
“Halloween: Main Theme” by John Carpenter
Whether you grew up with the Halloween franchise or found it later on in life, you know the soundtracks are among the scariest of all time. The main theme from the first movie is definitely one of the best Halloween songs to put the fright in your costume party—and make you look over your shoulder for a few days afterward.
“Disturbia” by Rihanna
If the haunts of Halloween cause you a little bit of distress, Rihanna’s got you with “Disturbia.” Just remember: The tricks and treats are for one night only.
“Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse
The guitar riffs in Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” make it feel made for monsters. The song was featured in the original Twilight film, when the vampire Cullen clan plays a very unique game of baseball, which we think qualifies it as one of the best Halloween songs.
“Runnin’ with the Devil” by Van Halen
From the David Lee Roth days of Van Halen, the band sings about living each day to its fullest, even if that means running with the devil himself. Take a journey over to the dark side on Halloween with this classic on your Halloween music playlist.
“Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” by David Bowie
When David Bowie released this song in 1980, he probably didn’t record it with the idea that it would one day be included on costume party playlists as one of the best Halloween songs, but here we are. You just can’t have monsters and creeps in a track and not expect it to be associated with Halloween, can you?
“Creep” by Radiohead
While the song is actually about a guy who doesn’t feel good enough for the woman he’s interested in, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke says he has received multiple letters from murderers saying how much they can relate to the lyrics. Errr … yikes!
“Ghost” by Ella Henderson
Add it to your playlist of the best Halloween songs because the word ghost is in the title, but stay for Ella Henderson’s amazing vocals. Just be careful: This earworm will stick with you—kind of like a hitchhiking ghost.
“Freaks Come Out at Night” by Whodini
Celebrate all the freaks out at night with this old-school hip-hop track from 1984. The synthesized chorus is everything your Halloween music playlist needs for a little ’80s goodness.
“Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol
Early punk rock musician Billy Idol has said that he came up with the name for this song because he was intrigued by the title of a 1960s French horror film called Les Yeux Sans Visage, which translates to Eyes Without a Face. It’s an unforgettable but creepy ballad and definitely one of the best Halloween songs to haunt your party.
“Dracula Has Risen from the Grave” by The Coffinshakers
First released in 1996 by Swedish band The Coffinshakers, this short but sweet (and very very fun) track captures the terrifying moment when Dracula, well, rises! If you’re looking for the best Halloween songs, you can’t get much more on-brand than this one.
“Time Warp” by The Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast
It’s just a jump to the left and a step to the right. Let’s do the Time Warp again … on Halloween. This track from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a true gem and a real party starter. Between the song and its accompanying dance, it’s bound to get everyone going.
“Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMann
The theme song from vampire movie The Lost Boys, which starred Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric, “Cry Little Sister” features the kind of haunting sounds that tell you there’s impending danger. It will leave you on edge, which is exactly what you want from one of the best Halloween songs, right?
“The Monster” by Eminem featuring Rihanna
Monsters, whether they’re slashers or invisible ones that cause us anxiety, are super scary. Eminem and Rihanna know all about it. This track was featured on the rapper’s 2013 album The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and “The Monster” won a Grammy for Best Melodic Rap Performance. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Grammys, it’s good enough for your Halloween music playlist.
“Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea featuring Rita Ora
You know what’s scary if you’re an arachnophobe? Coming face-to-face with a black widow spider. In the case of Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s “Black Widow,” you should be terrified by a woman scorned. This song has intense, dramatic beats that will blend seamlessly with the rest of your party soundtrack.
“Super Freak” by Rick James
Go ahead, show everyone that you’re a super freak for Halloween with this Rick James song. Its timeless funk sound makes it great for any upbeat party playlist (maybe not for an intimate dinner party, but you get the idea), and it’s plenty festive for Halloween, when everyone is letting their freak flags fly. Now that you have your playlist programmed with the best Halloween songs, see if you can answer these Halloween trivia questions for more spooktacular fun.