Happy Halloween: Here’s a Bunch of Spooky Music That Isn’t “The Monster Mash”

We put together a playlist of ghoulish soul, disco, rockabilly, and more you can really boogie to.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
A woman in a blue wig holding a jack-o'-lantern.
Photo by AFP via Getty Images

If you wind up at a house party for Halloween this year, I can almost guarantee you’re going to hear the same songs you heard at the party you went to last year, and the year before that, on and on and on, all the way back to the first October night you ever spent dressed up and drunk with a bunch of your friends. I’d bet, like, $20 that whoever’s hosting will put on:

  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson 
  • “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
  • “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.
  • “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
  • “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  • And, of course, “The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

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Don’t get me wrong: These songs are Classic, and Fun, and Good. But we’ve all heard them about a thousand goddamn times at this point. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a change. Which is why I spent the past week putting together a playlist of spooky, woefully underplayed, high-energy songs you can really boogie to. 

Behold: 

This thing’s got a lot going for it. Girl groups like Martha Reeves & The Vandellas singing about witches. A proto-punk song about turning into a “teenage goo goo muck,” whatever the hell that is. Weird bands with freaky names (e.g. Curtis & The Creepers, Frankie Stein & His Ghouls, Sharkey Todd & The Monsters) who seemingly only ever made music about Halloween. Everything on here is pretty old—the kind of stuff you might hear at a sock hop in the 1950s or 60s—and it all fucking rips.

If you’ve made the brave and laudable decision to host a Halloween party at your place, throw this bad boy on and watch the room go nuts. If, instead, you’re simply attending one as a guest, consider hijacking the aux, surreptitiously connecting to your friend’s Bluetooth speaker, or otherwise feloniously wresting control of the music and blasting this playlist at full volume, front to back. Your buddy might get mad at you—at first. But by the time you’re 30 seconds into the opener (“Witch for a Night” by Sugar Pie Desanto, which goes so, so hard), you’ll have everybody on their feet, dancing with abandon, and your host will have no real choice but to say “fuck it” and let you do your thing.

You might be thinking, Huh. This playlist is only 55 minutes and 42 seconds long. No one’s ever thrown a party that lasted 55 minutes and 42 seconds. This, my friends, is intentional. Admittedly, there’s a limit to how long you can really keep a party going with music like this. Assuming most people in attendance pregamed the affair, they’ll all be drunk about an hour in, and they’ll just want to listen to Doja Cat or whatever. A few may even demand to hear the classics: “Monster Mash,” “Thriller,” et al. Oblige them. When they wake up the next morning all hungover and foggy-headed, they’ll remember that you, a gracious, benevolent, and tasteful music czar, got everyone dancing to a bunch of old-school spooky stuff they’d never heard before and then hit them with nothing but bangers. With any luck, by the time Halloween rolls around next year, you’ll be back on DJ duty, tasked with bringing the motherfucking house down again, as only you can.

Drew Schwartz is a senior staff writer at VICE. Follow him on Twitter.