This is a re-post of my blog from last year around this time, but my playlist hasn’t changed.

If it’s October, it means Halloween, complete with carved pumpkins, candy corn and gooey stuff.  Having a party? Here are some great tracks for your rotation of horror to get everyone into the spirit!

1. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
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Released in 1983. Written by Rod Temperton and produced by Quincy Jones. According to Wikipedia, here’s what Temperton said about the writing of the song:

Originally, when I did my Thriller demo, I called it Starlight. Quincy said to me, ‘You managed to come up with a title for the last album, see what you can do for this album.’ I said, ‘Oh great,’ so I went back to the hotel, wrote two or three hundred titles, and came up with the title ‘Midnight Man’. The next morning, I woke up, and I just said this word… Something in my head just said, this is the title. You could visualise it on the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as ‘Thriller’.

Sound effects include feet walking on wooden planks, wind and howling dogs.

2. “Monster Mash” – Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers
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Released in 1962. Written by Bobby Pickett and Lenny Capizzi. The song was written as a spoof of “Mashed Potato”. In turn, it inspired a whole slew of other parodies such as “Be True to Your Ghoul”. The BBC had banned it from airplay on the grounds that it was “too morbid”. It was sung intentionally by Bobby Pickett in a “Boris Karloff” style.

3. “Witchy Woman” – The Eagles
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This song was started by guitarist Bernie Leadon and completed with Don Henley when they joined The Eagles. It was one of the first songs Henley wrote for the band. Inspired by the women they encountered in L.A. as well as the character Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby.

4. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
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Phenomenally successful song in an extremely successful movie by the same name. Parker was approached by Columbia Pictures to write the theme song for the movie. Both were later hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit which claimed the song was too similar to the Huey Lewis song “I Want A New Drug“, released earlier that year.

5. “Black Magic Woman” – Santana
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Written by Peter Green ( member of Fleetwood Mac) and sung by Greg Rollie. Santana released this record in 1970, after Fleetwood Mac had already recorded the song and released it as a single. Later on, the song was regularly included in Fleetwood Mac’s live set and preceded by a band member reminding the audience that it was a Fleetwood Mac song before it became such a big hit for Santana.

6. “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon
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Written by Warren Zevon, Leroy Marinell and Waddy Wachtel. Produced by Jackson Browne. Bass and drums contributed by Mick Fleetwood and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac.

7. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
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This became a huge hit when it was released by Motown in 1984. Rockwell was the son of Berry Gordy Jr., who was the CEO of Motown. Michael and Jermaine Jackson helped out with the background tracks. You can clearly hear Michael’s voice singing “It always feels like somebody’s watching me”. The subject matter deals with paranoia about being followed.

8. “Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran
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Released in 1982. Band member Rhodes started the demo in the morning with the latest gadget sequencer and the song was built throughout the day as each band member arrived. It was essentially complete by that evening.

9. “Sympathy For the Devil” – The Rolling Stones
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Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 1968. Inspired by Lucifer and the focus on atrocities in the history of mankind from Lucifer’s point of view, including the trial and death of Jesus Christ (“Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate”).

10. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
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Written by Stevie Wonder. Released in 1972 by Motown. Funkiest clavinet lick ever. Who doesn’t know that song from the first couple of bars? Mentions several popular superstitious fables in the lyric.

Also love:
“Don’t Fear the Reaper” – Blue Oyster Cult
“Strange Brew” – Cream
“The Devil Inside” – INXS
“People Are Strange ” – The Doors

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