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Like Christmas, Halloween is a holiday with its own set of themed music. Most of the best Halloween songs are tied to scary movies or videos, or inspired by classic scary films. Yet instead of being scary itself, a successful Halloween song needs to be fun, nostalgic and catchy.
5 “Love Potion No. 9”
A fun, frothy 1959 pop hit featuring gypsies, spells and a guy making a fool out of himself, “Love Potion No. 9” was first recorded by The Clovers. It’s been covered numerous times, most successfully by The Searchers, and also inspired a terrible romantic comedy by the same name. Not only will playing “Love Potion No. 9” during your Halloween party give your guests an excuse to dance, it will also remind them to watch what they drink and avoid nasty romantic entanglements and witches.
Who ya gonna call? Written by Ray Parker Jr., this theme song to the movie “Ghostbusters” was a huge worldwide hit, going platinum in 1984. The lyrics are simple and easy to remember—everyone knows who to call when there’s something strange in your neighborhood. And if they don’t, Halloween’s the perfect time to remind them. Parker was sued by Huey Lewis and the News for plagiarizing “I Want a New Drug” with this song, but that doesn’t detract from the fun and catchy lyrics.
The video for “Thriller,” the title track of the best-selling album of all time, has permanently established it as a Halloween favorite. In the groundbreaking 1983 music video that’s a takeoff of “American Werewolf in London,” Michael Jackson takes his girlfriend to a scary movie, only to reveal that he’s scarier than the movie is. The zombie dance number near the end of the video is perfect for any Halloween party and often resurrected on TV and by street performers around October 31.
2 “Werewolves of London”
This catchy 1978 tune has its roots in rock royalty—the track was produced by Jackson Browne, and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie from Fleetwood Mac sing the backup vocals. The idea for the song came from Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who asked Warren Zevon and Robert “Waddy” Wachtel to write a dance number for the Everly Brothers called “Werewolves of London.” However, Zevon is the one who ultimately performed it. The lyrics are surprisingly sophisticated, and the opening line was voted the greatest opening song line by BBC Radio 2 listeners.
1 “Monster Mash”
First released in 1962, “Monster Mash” proves that a novelty song can be a perennial favorite. The song’s writer, Bobby Pickett, came up with the idea when he imitated Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein voice on stage one night. The audience loved it, so Pickett adapted the “mashed potato” dance number with new lyrics inspired by everyone’s favorite monster movies. “Monster Mash” annually charts during Halloween, has been covered and parodied numerous times, and holds a place in pop culture.