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Music

Far Out 40: The ultimate alternative Halloween playlist

@TomTaylorFO

Like a knife scraping over glass or the creak of a floorboard in an empty house, Halloween has an inherent sound. There simply seems to be chords that have made themselves synonymous with the spooky night in Autumn like jingle bells at Christmas, like synths with summer or smooth jazz with coffee houses. What’s more, there is even a scientific explanation for why we identify certain sounds with spooks.

Uncovering the fascinating science of music and memories

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Music mimics our vocal and physical expressions of emotion in order to convey the intended mood. This direct transposing of emotion into sound means that from an incredibly early age we can intrinsically interpret musical triggers like major or minor keys into feeling. Revolutionary studies have linked this interpretation of sound and emotion to evolutionary biology. Thus, in short, it is in our DNA to be scared by certain sounds.

Naturally, musicians have been exploiting this emotional shortcut for millennia. Take, for instance, Mark E Smith of The Fall who when inexplicably asked to produce a song for The Twilight movies ended up making a track that was deemed simply “too scary”. As Smith would later recall: “Our publisher got this deal with that film Twilight. They said they’ give us $50,000 to come up with a song. So I said, I’ll give them some horror…they don’t know anything about horror, do they? It might frighten the children. But it is frightening, isn’t it? I’ve fulfilled my bargain with Satan.”

Smith even seemed to know that rejection for his horrifying track was fated all along. “There’s no way they’re going to put that in Twilight. But if they were good, they would. Orson Welles would’ve done it. It’s horror. Their horror is some (young) guy… wandering through a forest with his eyes glazed,” Smith concluded.

With that in mind, we’ve collated a list of songs to add a dose of terror to your playlists. From The Doors roving epic about a serial killer on the loose to Randy Newman’s mysterious dirge also about a serial killer on the loose, these are alternative anthems fit for any Halloween party. Of course, you’ve already got ‘Monster Mash’ covered to we’ve gone for scares from slightly more obscure realms.

As always with Far Out 40’s, we’ve limited ourselves to one song per artist so as not to have the simply dished out the entire first half of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds spooky discography, or the original hellraisers Black Sabbath dominating proceedings. 

The ultimate alternative Halloween playlist:

  • ‘Little Ghost’ by The White Stripes
  • ‘Dracula’s Wedding’ by Outkast
  • ‘Bad Moon Rising’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials
  • ‘Lullaby’ by The Cure
  • ‘In Germany Before the War’ by Randy Newman
  • ‘Cemetery Gates’ by The Smiths
  • ‘Pet Sematary’ by Ramones
  • ‘Riders On The Storm’ by The Doors
  • ‘Devil’s Spoke’ by Laura Marling
  • ‘Swampland’ by The Birthday Party
  • ‘The Killing Moon’ by Echo & The Bunnymen
  • ‘Werewolves of London’ by Warren Zevon
  • ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ by Jimi Hendrix
  • ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones
  • ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ by David Bowie
  • ‘Scarecrow’ by Beck
  • ‘This is Halloween’ by Danny Elfman
  • ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC 
  • ‘Blood Red Moon’ The Hives
  • ‘Human Fly’ by The Cramps
  • ‘Killing for Company’ by Swans
  • ‘Dark and Stormy’ by Hot Chip
  • ‘Jack the Ripper’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • ‘Before the Moon Falls’ by The Fall
  • ‘They Are Night Zombies!!! They Are Neighbours!!! They Have Come Back From The Dead! Aaah’ by Sufjan Stevens
  • ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads
  • ‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush
  • ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by Nina Simone
  • ‘(Don’t Fear) The Fear’ by Blue Öyster Cult
  • ‘Burn the Witch’ by Queens of the Stone Age
  • ‘Halloween’ by Misfits
  • ‘Wait and Bleed’ by Slipknot
  • ‘Acrid Corpse’ by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
  • ‘Evil’ by Interpol
  • ‘Wolf Like Me’ by TV On The Radio
  • ‘Halloween’ by Sonic Youth
  • ‘Spellbound’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ by Bauhaus
  • ‘Dead Souls’ by Joy Division