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Silver Linings Playlist: Halloween

Silver Linings #8

Hello, and welcome back to Silver Linings where I spotlight the best of the weird, maligned, and forgotten.

Halloween is my favorite time of the year; I've said that before. Any excuse to indulge in the creepiest movies and games is fine by me.  However, I do lament that my radio largely gets ignored during this time as there's very little in terms of music that fits the holiday.  That stands in stark contrast to Christmas which sees everyone and their grandmothers putting out albums singing the same Christmas songs that have been sung for centuries.

Well, I want to do something about that. In this special edition of the Silver Linings Playlist, I'm going to spotlight a variety of songs (in no particular order) that fit in perfectly with Halloween. Some are atmospheric tracks that can be piped through the speakers of a haunted house; some are lively tracks that work for dancing in ridiculous costumes while getting plastered. Throw these onto your MP3 player, and let the party begin!

"Thriller" - Michael Jackson

Okay, let's get the most obvious one out of the way first.  Whenever people think of tracks for a Halloween party, "Thriller" is naturally the first choice. From the spooky sound effects littered throughout to the rap by the legendary Vincent Price, this one just screams Halloween. Of course, the video, widely regarded as the greatest music video of all time, can't be ignored, either.  Face it, everyone attempted the zombie dance at some point!

"Dead Man's Party" & "Weird Science" - Oingo Boingo

Danny Elfman's contributions to Halloween music weren't limited to scoring Tim Burton's movies. Two tracks with his band Oingo Boingo fit perfectly. "Dead Man's Party" is a funky little groove with Elfman's dark quirkiness all over it, and "Weird Science" is a New Wave classic that practically retells the plot of that 80s take on Frankenstein that everyone's seen at some point. I'll probably look further into Oingo Boingo's career to see if there are others, but these two songs are perfect for a party, even if there are no dead men in it. 

"Somebody's Watching Me" - Rockwell

Rockwell's funky track about paranoia and creeping dread just nailed Halloween. The organs set a perfect mood helped along by some of the best production Motown did in the 80s. Michael Jackson's chorus worked flawlessly even if it did accidentally spotlight Rockwell's tone-deafness.  Whatever, this track was a fun way of looking at being creeped out.

"Tubular Bells" - Mike Oldfield

Don't recognize the title or artist? That doesn't matter; you'd no doubt recognize it as the theme to The Exorcist. My mother had the album despite hating the movie because it just provided the perfect orchestral atmosphere. The keyboard riff doesn't change, but the way the additional parts get layered on top of each other works to heighten the mood. This is one of the most essential instrumentals for setting a creepy environment.

"Halloween Theme" - John Carpenter

While "Tubular Bells" was its own recording that got licensed for The Exorcist, John Carpenter composed his song specifically for his movie Halloween. Considering his legendary status as a horror movie director, it's easy to forget that he's also a phenomenal composer. The simple piano riffs grab and hold your ear while the additional stings heighten the tension. Even though I made my thoughts on the Halloween films clear, I just can't deny the amazing score from the first movie.

"Castlevania: Symphony of the Night" - Michiru Yamane

It may seem weird to throw a video game into the mix, but this one WILL NOT be left off my Halloween playlist! Michiru Yamane's score for the greatest game in the Castlevania  franchise (and my favorite game of all time) is an atmospheric symphony that can send chills down anyone's spine.  I played this for a co-worker a while back, and she could hardly believe it was from a game. It is THAT amazing! Though the two ballads are a bit out of place for setting a creepy mood, the rest of the score runs the gamut of styles and moods and works perfectly.

"The Monster Mash" - Bobby 'Boris' Pickett

Let's bookend this playlist with the original Halloween hit. I can't imagine a Halloween party that doesn't play "The Monster Mash" at least once.  Bobby Pickett's impression of the original Frankenstein's Monster Boris Karloff was actually very impressive, and the song itself is just straight-up fun. Yes, it's very corny now, but it's held up amazingly well after 55 years. Don't dismiss it just because it's novelty doo-wop.

I'm sure I left some off, but I just wanted to list some of the essentials.  What's on your Halloween playlist?  Let me know, and Happy Halloween!

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