You’ve added “Thriller,” “Ghostbusters,” “The Monster Mash,” and “Somebody’s Watching Me” to your Halloween playlist—what now? Never fear, Top Five Records is here. Without further ado, here are thirteen songs that are sure to make your spine tingle this October.

  1. “Howl” – Florence and the Machine

Florence and the Machine, led by the inimitable Florence Welch, are known for cultivating a haunting, witchy ambience. They lean into this vibe on “Howl,” a track off debut album Lungs. The lyrics, replete with references to lycanthropy, speak of a love that awakens a couple’s feral side. “A man who’s pure of heart and says his prayers by night may still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright,” Welch sings, paraphrasing a line from Universal’s 1941 monster film The Wolf Man.

  1. “Dracula” – Gorillaz

Another song referencing a notable horror villain is “Dracula,” released by Gorillaz as a B-side to their 2001 hit “Clint Eastwood.” Produced by Curtis Lynch Jr., the track demonstrates frontman Damon Albarn’s fondness for reggae and dub influences. It’s a shocker this one didn’t make the album—the bassline and sax get under your skin like a vampire’s poison. 

  1. “The Man with X-Ray Eyes” – Bauhaus

Seminal goth band Bauhaus has produced plenty of songs fit to soundtrack moonlit strolls through shadowy streets. “The Man with X-Ray Eyes,” from sophomore album Mask, is one of their finest. The song alludes to X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes, a 1963 horror film directed and produced by “Pope of Pop Cinema” Roger Corman.

  1. “Every Day is Halloween” – Ministry

Industrial band Ministry has a special place in the goth community due to their 1984 single “Every Day is Halloween,” which has become a sort of unofficial rallying cry for the subculture. The verses celebrate the joys of embracing one’s personal style even in the face of criticism—i.e., dressing like “every day is Halloween” without a care for what any normies might think. 

  1. “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” – The Backstreet Boys

There’s nothing particularly Halloweeny about “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”—except, of course, for its music video, which shows the members of the band transforming into famous monsters in a dream sequence. Fun fact: it was shot in the same mansion where the 1995 Casper movie took place. 

  1. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo

Danny Elfman might be considered one of the godfathers of Halloween. He’s behind the soundtracks for countless seasonal favorites, including Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. As the frontman of theater-troupe-cum-band Oingo Boingo, he also gave us the irresistibly catchy “Dead Man’s Party.” With lyrics like “Everybody’s comin’, leave your body at the door,” it’s the perfect song for a spooky soiree.

  1. “Burn” – The Cure

Alex Proyas’ 1994 cult classic The Crow follows a rock star who returns from the grave to avenge his and his fiancee’s murder on Devil’s Night—the night before Halloween. The film has gone down in history—not only for the late, great Brandon Lee’s tragic on-set death, but for its heart-wrenching (and eerily pertinent) exploration of grief. During production, the concept attracted the attention of The Cure’s Robert Smith, who wrote and recorded the theme “Burn” in two days. It stands on its own as one of the band’s most poignant tracks. 

  1. “Baby You’re A Haunted House” – Gerard Way

As the lead singer of exalted emo act My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way has provided plenty of anthems for those who prefer to dress in black and wear heavy eyeliner. It’s no wonder that one of his solo singles, “Baby You’re A Haunted House,” is perfectly suited for the spookiest time of year. Its upbeat, pop-punk flair will certainly put a pep in your step this October. 

  1. “Evil Eye” – Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand is best known for “Take Me Out,” but they had plenty of other hits up their sleeve—including funky dance-rock banger “Evil Eye” from Right Thoughts, Right Actions. Frontman Alex Kapranos described the music video, a tribute to the B-movie genre, as “a gruesome blood orgy eye stab death romp wide-oh creep necro fest,” which should tell you all you need to know. 

  1. “Season of the Witch” – Donovan

Boasting instantly recognizable guitar and bass parts—and a groovy organ section to boot—“Season of the Witch” is one of the defining tracks of ’60s psychedelia. The song was born from Donovan’s suspicion that the “peace and love” of the hippie era might not last forever, but its ominous tone means it works well to conjure up the Halloween spirit. Its legacy has lived on—Lana Del Rey recorded a stripped-back cover in 2019. 

  1. “Human Fly” – The Cramps

The Cramps are beloved for their horror-tinged psychobilly romps, “Human Fly” among them. The legendary Lux Interior sings from the perspective of “a reborn maggot using germ warfare” in his signature sneering tone, making this a certified creepy-crawly classic.

  1. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Öyster Cult

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and the slasher genre go way back. The song first appeared in John Carpenter’s Halloween, during a scene in which Laurie Strode is being followed by Michael Myers. Eighteen years later, a cover by Gus Black was used to soundtrack Billy Loomis’ entrance in Wes Craven’s Scream. Most recently, the song popped up in Ti West’s X. It’s easy to see why it’s been such a popular choice—its foreboding themes make it useful for foreshadowing.

  1. “In the Deathcar” – Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop has always been a little scary—that’s part of his appeal. “In the Deathcar,” written for 1993 Emir Kusturica film Arizona Dream, is one of his most haunting works. From the very first lines—”A howling wind is whistling in the night/My dog is growling in the dark”—the scene is set. Mandolins and horns combine with low hums to create an otherworldly atmosphere.

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