No offense to Michael Jackson, but you really can’t just play “Thriller” and “The Monster Mash” on repeat all night for Halloween. Here are a few psychedelia and hard rock alternatives to set the mood at the witching hour.
™Howlin’ For You∫ by The Black Keys
The Black Keys have had our heads bobbing since 2010, when the general public finally realized they existed. “Howlin’ For You,” in all its gritty, bluesy, rock-infused goodness is probably their best-loved song to date, and chances are slim you’re not already familiar with it. What you might not have considered, however, is how well it translates on Halloween. Give it a try and you may find it takes on a whole new meaning.
™Strange Brew∫ by Cream
Just a few more deliriously laid-back beats straight out of the hippie era, brought to you by Cream. Whether it’s tricks or treats you’re after, few songs are better than “Strange Brew” to create ambiance.
™Season of the Witch∫ by Donovan
Somewhere between folk and psychedelia is Donovan. “Season of the Witch” has been a crowd favorite since the 60s, superseding golden oldie and going straight to classic. An obvious choice on Halloween night.
™Evil Eye∫ by Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand deserves a place on every Halloween playlist. And every off-the-wall indie rock playlist. You should just put Franz Ferdinand on all your playlists. “Evil Eye” is quirky, creepy and grisly in all the best ways.
™Bad Moon Rising∫ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence is the epitome of classic rock. They also just happened to have an affinity for all things ghostly, ghastly and spooky. If “Bad Moon Rising”isn’t your favorite, any song from “Walk on the Water” to “I Put a Spell On You” would make a solid addition to your Halloween playlist. Or, if you’re anything like me, why not all three?
™(Don’t Fear) The Reaper∫ by Blue Oyster Cult
“The Reaper” is a little softer rock, with mellower vocals and guitar riffs, and certainly has a toe in love song territory. However, Blue Oyster Cult lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser wrote this 1976 hit about his own premature death. No way around that one–more than a little creepy! Even if the guy’s still alive 40 years later.
™Paint It, Black∫ by The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger referred to this particular song as the beginnings of miserable psychedelia and it’s not hard to see why. “Paint It, Black” is a catchy but grim song about the darkness in us all. Fun fact: “Paint It, Black” was the first no. 1 hit in America to feature a sitar.
Hannah Shirley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org