Fall is here, and Halloween is just around the corner. For partakers everywhere, this means sweets, scary movies, and spooky costumes lie just on the horizon, and hours of fall fun await. While most people conjure images of scary movies and costumes when they think of Halloween, the music at the spookiest time of year plays just as important a role in the season’s festivities. After all, many horror movies rely on music to help set the scene and get viewers’ neck hairs to stand up at a moment’s notice.
Curating the perfect Halloween party playlist can be a challenge. It can feel impossible to strike the balance between hype and hair-raising. But there are plenty of songs to choose from when putting together a Halloween playlist, depending on what Halloween vibe you’re going for. In recent years, some pop artists like Billie Eilish and Kim Petras have leaned into the Halloween-esque aesthetic with their music. Being spooky used to be for weird girls, and now it’s for cool girls and all girls, really.
If you’re planning a Halloween party this year, props to you for celebrating the season in style. To get you started on building your ultimate Halloween playlist, here are some varied offerings perfect to listen to while dancing, carving pumpkins, making mulled wine, or simply eating apple cider donuts.
“Scary” – Megan Thee Stallion & Rico Nasty
Megan Thee Stallion’s 2022 sophomore album Traumazine is filled with hits, including “Scary.” The song, which features rapper Rico Nasty, has a spooky beat. Combine it with Megan and Rico’s seriously god-tier rapping, and you have one hit party track.
“Bulerías” – Rosalía
Rosalía released her third album Motomami earlier this year, with the track “Bulerías” sounding the most reminiscent of her 2018 breakout album El Mal Querer. Rosalía’s haunting vocals on the song are accompanied by her signature flamenco production, which results in a hair-raising listening experience.
“tears in the club” – FKA twigs & The Weeknd
“Tears in the club,” the lead single from FKA twigs’ 2022 mixtape Caprisongs, will get you dancing and crying at the same time. The Weeknd — who released his own album earlier this year — makes for a perfect guest singer.
“Mistress Violet” – Violet Chachki & Allie X
RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki and singer Allie X teamed up in 2021 for “Mistress Violet,” a dark funk track fit for a goth party. Chachki’s attitude is on full display in her performance as she asserts her dominance over the electropunk production.
“Boo! B*tch!” – Kim Petras
Because nothing could say Halloween bop more than a title like “Boo! B*tch!”
“Disturbia” – Rihanna
“Disturbia” is a classic Rihanna song with an equally timeless music video. If you’re trapped in a dark nightmare, you might as well dance while you’re there.
“Thriller” – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s 1980s classic “Thriller” remains a fan favorite for many to this day, and its iconic music video continues to inspire countless Halloween costumes.
“Haunted” – Beyoncé
“Haunted” is many things, so I’ll simply say this underrated Beyoncé track has a title perfect for spooky season.
“Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga
Where were you when you first heard Lady Gaga say “ra-ra ah-ah-ah”? “Bad Romance” perfectly captured Mother Monster’s essence at the turn of the last decade. The creepy music video hasn’t aged at all — except, maybe, the Beats laptop product placement. Sorry!
“Replay (Dorian Electra Remix)” – Lady Gaga & Dorian Electra
Gaga got everyone dancing with her 2020 album Chromatica, and she followed it up in 2021 with the Dawn of Chromatica remix album. It’s jam-packed with talented artists reimagining every song on Chromatica. Here, Dorian Electra rocks out on an emo-lectric remix of “Replay” that will get your skin crawling. If it doesn’t, then maybe the animated Dawn of Chromatica album cover will.
“Dance In the Dark” – Lady Gaga
There was no way I could only include one Gaga track in a Halloween playlist. Her The Fame Monster era spawned so many hits in addition to “Bad Romance.” This includes the brooding hit “Dance In the Dark.”
“High For This” – The Weeknd
“High For This” appeared on The Weeknd’s 2011 debut mixtape House of Balloons, and it showed back then that he had the vocals of a superstar.
“6 Inch” – Beyoncé & The Weeknd
“6 Inch” was perhaps the most haunting part of Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual, and it still stands the test of time six years later.
“you should see me in a crown” – Billie Eilish
With her smash debut album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? in 2019, Billie Eilish was introduced to the world with the spooky No. 1 single “bad guy.” But the album as a whole largely lives up to its scary-looking cover, with songs like “you should see me in a crown” proving her aesthetic is as singular and strong as her talent.
“all the good girls go to hell” – Billie Eilish
“All the good girls go to hell” is another quintessential Billie Eilish track from the WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? era.
“The Phantom of the Opera” – Sarah Brightman & Michael Crawford
Nothing is specifically Halloween-related about The Phantom of the Opera, but its dark themes and frightening title track make it a perfect spooky season experience. With this year being the last Halloween before Phantom of the Opera closes on Broadway on Feb. 18, 2023, what better time to celebrate the long-running musical than now?
“Tainted Love” – Soft Cell
Soft Cell’s domineering production and vocals on “Tainted Love” make this 1980s classic a perfect fit for your Halloween holiday playlist.
“Monster” – Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, & Rick Ross
From its spooky intro to Nicki Minaj’s monstrous guest verse (that impressed everyone, even Adele), Kanye West’s “Monster,” which also features Jay-Z and Rick Ross, always hypes up a party.
“Smalltown Boy” – Bronski Beat
Bronski Beat burst onto the scene in 1984 with their debut single “Smalltown Boy.” Nearly four decades later, the song still can get you dancing, even if you feel anxious while doing it.
“I Put a Spell on You” – Nina Simone
Nina Simone’s spellbinding singing is on full display in this classic song she made famous in the 1960s.
“Wild Is the Wind” – Nina Simone
Simone’s captivating vocals on her 1966 cover of Johnny Mathis’ “Wild Is the Wind” are enough to cause goosebumps.
“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
“Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell gives you the feeling that someone is standing right behind you, and, well, watching you.
“Zombie” – The Cranberries
Because it isn’t Halloween without a few zombies, and thankfully The Cranberries gave us the perfect rock song to honor the undead.
So add these songs to your playlist. Because not only will they be the perfect vibe for your super scary party, but they’ll have your guests knowing there’s nothing off about your music taste. You know straight bops after bops.