If you scan the titles of 80s songs looking for “spooky” related themes, you’re going to have a long list of tunes to choose from for sure. But these ten tracks are on my current Halloween playlist and I hope you enjoy them.
Thriller, by Michael Jackson
This really is a no-brainer. It’s got everything; zombies, Vincent Price, MJ with yellow eyes. You really can’t beat it (sorry, pun unintended).
Psycho Killer, by Talking Heads.
When I think of this song by Talking Heads, I think of every 80s horror movie villain. Freddy, Jason, Michael and so many others, beautifully fulfilling the role as psycho “serial” killers on the big screen.
Shout at the Devil, by Motley Crue.
Motley Crue is scary and dangerous (at least they were at one) and this song helped the band move from glam metal to heavy metal. The Satanic pentagram on the album cover also helped garner attention and led to Christian groups targeting them for “encouraging” occult like worship. The band thanks them for the press!
A Nightmare on My Street, by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.
Not necessarily one of the spookier songs on my list but it’s fun tune and Will Smith is great in the video.
Werewolves of London, by Warren Zevon.
I often see some people link this song by Warren Zevon to the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London, but that would be a mistake of memory. This song came out in early 1978 and got a ton a radio airplay during that time and well into the 80s and 90s. It even appeared in the musical TV show Glee. Truly frightening.
Dead Man’s Party, by Oingo Boingo
The thing I remember about this song is that it was used in the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield comedy, Back to School. Danny Elfman, frontman for Oingo Boingo, also composed the score for the film. The University of Wisconsin-Madison (where the film was shot) was never the same after.
Ghostbusters, by Ray Parker Jr.
Another obvious addition to the list of “spooky” 80s songs. When I hear this song on the radio, I often wonder exactly how much Huey Lewis and The News snagged in royalties after winning their copyright lawsuit against Ray Parker Jr. “Who you gonna call?” A good attorney.
Hells Bells, by AC/DC.
Those bells. It’s all about the bells. Stephen King liked the song so much he used it in his film Maximum Overdrive.
Welcome to the Jungle, by Guns N' Roses.
I can’t imagine how scary it would be to dropped off at night on a street corner in L.A., not knowing anyone, not knowing who you can trust, and trying to figure it out without ending up a victim. I know that description may sound a bit extreme but when I hear this song and watch the video, that’s what I imagine. And that seems pretty terrifying to me. And let’s face it, Axl is scary.
Somebody’s Watching Me, by Rockwell.
You’ll find this song on Halloween playlists all over the internet. The chorus, sung by Michael Jackson, who also appears on this list, helped make the song a hit. But I’ve always wondered if the guy singing (Rockwell), is really more of a narcissist, rather than being one who suffers paranoia. I think he might secretly be enjoying the attention he’s getting.