I have a dilemma. For the past five years now I’ve been making Halloween playlists. Every time I come across a song that I feel represents Halloween in some way, I throw it into my Master Playlist. Then sometime each September, I take about 20 of the most Halloween-y songs from the list and arrange them into a playlist that I hand out to anyone willing to take it. I feel like every year I’ve improved on this a little. Excising songs that I feel are too skippable, making sure the transitions between tracks make sense and aren’t too jarring, tweaking the order so it ebbs and flows well, and so on.
There are songs that I feel must be on any Halloween playlist in my book, and they make repeat appearances year after year. I balance this out with roughly 50% “new” material and 50% “essential” material, and toggle between versions when there are multiple (for example, The Misfits’ Halloween has been covered by three other bands). The problem is, each year about half of my “new” material becomes “essential”, and it’s getting harder to find quality Halloween songs that I haven’t used before. As a result, it’s getting very hard to strike a balance between being too repetitive and being too exclusionary. That’s why I considered making last year’s mix the final one. But of course, I couldn’t resist…..
I started working on my 2011 CD playlist about a week ago, and while I think I arrived at something that balanced the new with the familiar well, to be quite honest the new material wasn’t that great. At least, I didn’t find myself getting excited about listening to it, and I couldn’t say that if I handed it to someone who’s never listened to one of my mixes before, they’d like it better than, say, the 2009 edition. In the interest of not being too repetitive, it failed to qualify as “essential”.
That’s why I’ve decided that henceforth, the annual Halloween playlists are going to be an ongoing endeavor to create my “perfect playlist”. It will largely be composed of the same essential tracks, but with minor changes to the order and appearance of the songs. As I discover great new music to use, I’ll work it in and perhaps remove songs that I find myself skipping a lot. I’ll mess with intros and outros and transitions and interludes, until I wind up with something I can hand to a person and say “this is the best collection of Halloween songs I can come up with”.
But then again, I’m just one man. I have my own tastes and biases. My “perfect playlist” ought to be different than your perfect playlist. That’s why I need your help. Below I’m going to post the track listing for the first version of the “Ultimate Halloween Playlist”. I’m still not totally married to the order, but for now I can say that it represents the finest selections from the four Halloween playlists I’ve done in the past few years.
Give me suggestions. What am I missing? What are YOUR essential Halloween songs? Do you prefer the Halloween Theme by John Carpenter or the new one from Rob Zombie’s remake? This is Halloween – by Danny Elfman, Marilyn Manson, or Panic! at the Disco? Are there any great horror movie themes I’m missing? The more feedback I get the better this will be.
A few qualifiers: I may not heed all suggestions. After all, I’m doing this for myself as much as anybody else. Also keep in mind that I’m avoiding songs that can be found on commercially available Halloween mixes. That means no Thriller, Ghostbusters Theme, B-52’s, Werewolves of London, or Monster Mash (Misfits version is acceptable).
Here it is:
- Zacherle intro – Happy Halloween
- The Ghastly Ones feat. Rob Zombie – Halloween (She Gets so Mean)
- Nightmare on Elm Street Theme
- The Misfits – Crimson Ghost
- Danny Elfman – This is Halloween
- The Bomboras – A Fistful of Terror
- Mad Sin – No More Trick or Treat
- The Misfits – Halloween
- Intermission – Creeps for Cushing by Captain Clegg and the Nightcreatures
- Tyler Bates – Halloween Theme 2007
- The Dead 60’s – Ghostface Killer
- Danny Elfman – Beetlejuice Theme
- Green Day – Misery
- Danny Elfman – Tales from the Crypt Theme
- Jonathan Coulton – RE: Your Brains
- The Misfits – Monster Mash
- Los Straitjackets – The Munsters Theme
- Captain Clegg and the Nightcreatures – Day of the Dead
- Alkaline Trio – Halloween