I doubt it will surprise any of our readers that we really, really, really like Halloween around here. We’ve been talking about it and planning and generally getting very excited since the end of August.

But before we plunge into all the spooky, gory, cute (however, you are inclined to celebrate) stuff, you must create a mood. And the first step in creating a mood is — MUSIC! Whether it’s carving pumpkins, making sweet potato pie (recipe to come), creating some spooky art, hosting a party, or just enjoying a fall beer, here’s a list of 20 albums to carry you through the month with a truly festive spirit (ha, spirit, get it?).

And guess what?! All of these albums are available on Spotify. That’s right you can listen to these for free (or more accurately with limited commercial interruption). You can also follow my Halloween playlist “Pumpkin Spice” on Spotify which has even more Halloween appropriate music.

The Obvious

There’s not a whole lot of albums that are specifically Halloween, but the following are classics:

  1. The Craft Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Various Artists: Only five of the songs from this album are available on Spotify, but still some goodies. The whole album is fantastically 90s alt.
  2. Labyrinth – David Bowie & Trevor Jones: “You remind of the babe,” David Bowie, 80s synth – get on it.Nightmare Revisited Album Cover
  3. The Lost Boys Soundtrack Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Various Artists: First of all, if you haven’t seen The Lost Boys, just go watch it right now, it’s on Netflix. Second, the album is dramatic, big 80s rock awesomeness. “Lost in the Shadows” and “Cry Little Sister” will make you want to tease your hair and snort cocaine.
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas Special Edition, Nightmare Revisited, The Jack 2 Pack – Danny Elfman & Various Artists: Maybe packing all of these together is cheating, but whatever, I make the rules here. Unfortunately, Fiona Apple’s cover of “Sally’s Song” is not available on Spotify, but you can listen to it here.
  5. Rocky Horror Picture Show Original Soundtrack – Various Artists: I know every. single. word.
  6. Once More, With Feeling: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – Original Cast of Buffy: “Bunnies, bunnies, it must be bunnies!” Also, Kate Nash and crew covered the whole album. It’s as awesome as it sounds. Go listen here.

The Not-So-Obvious

Most goth rock and some metal could be considered Halloween-y due to the themes explored, but neither are really my thing. I tend to veer towards dark cabaret (of which there are a few on here), but I have also stumbled across some other gems:

  1. A is for Accident – The Dresden Dolls – Really anything by the Dresden Dolls is good Halloween music. I picked this album because well, it’s my favorite Dresden Dolls album.
  2. The Black Rider and/or Blood Money – Tom Waits: Waits’ continued exploration of the grotesque coupled with his gravely voice make him perfectly suitable for moody Halloween music. He has an extensive discography, but these two were written for German plays that deal with death and tragedy.Bluegrass Murder Ballads Album Cover
  3. Bluegrass Murder Ballads – Various Artists: Murder ballads are actually a thing. I did not know this until I discovered Nick Cave & the Bad Seed’s Murder Ballads which led to my eventual discovery of this album.
  4. Dead Man’s Bones – Dead Man’s Bones: This is a concept album based on Ryan Gosling’s (yes, that Ryan Gosling) and his musical partner’s, Zach Shields, fascination with the supernatural.
  5. Fight Like a Girl – Emilie Autumn: I had trouble choosing between Emilie Autumn’s work. All her music is pretty apropos for Halloween. However, Fight Like a Girl is a conceptual album about her stint in a mental institution. It’s haunting, it’s feminist, it’s perfect.
  6. Murder Ballads – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: I know I already have an album of murder ballads on this list, but Nick Cave’s voice lends itself perfectly to Halloween-themed music so I had to include it.
  7. Songs of Mass Destruction – Annie Lennox: I found this album when I was trying to find Annie Lennox’s “Love Song for a Vampire.” The album is intended to explore the darker elements of human nature, and “Sing” features numerous amazing female artists and was originally released as a part of a charity album for HIV/AIDS awareness.
  8. Spooky Songs for Creepy Kids – Voltaire: Like the Dresden Dolls and Emilie Autumn, Voltaire (also goes by Aurelio Voltaire) is a dark cabaret style artist, but I particularly enjoy the European folk element of Voltaire’s music; not to mention his often hilarious lyrics. While you are at it, take a listen to Bitrektual which is a salute to Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dr. Who geekdom. Fun fact: Voltaire is also a cartoonist.
  9. Tales of Mystery and Imagination – The Alan Parsons Project: This album has a special place in my heart because my mom introduced me to it – on cassette which tells you that the Alan Parsons Project was an 80s progressive rock band. Tales of Mystery and Imagination is based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe.
  10. Zombified – Southern Culture on the Skids: Rock-a-billy, swamp pop, surf rock, blues – all of these labels fit Southern Culture on the Skids. They are a delightfully fun band as is this album.

Background Noise

If you get distracted easily by lyrics, but still need a spooky mood setting, these instrumental albums create the right Halloween atmosphere:

  1. Blood-Curdling Strings! VSQ Pays Tribute to Horror Classics – Vitamin String Quartet: I got a thing for strings so there are two Vitamin String Quartet tributes on this list. If you want a little variation in your classical instrumentation, The Definitive Horror Music Collection is also a great collection of instrumentals, mostly by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.Bram Stocker's Dracula Album Cover
  2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Anton Coppola: This soundtrack is dramatic, sweeping, and gothic. I actually find myself getting distracted when it is on because I get so swept up in it. This album is the musical background that my terri-bad vampire fantasies are completely undeserving of. Fun fact: Tom Waits played Renfield in this adaptation.
  3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Score – Christopher Beck: Did you know they released the Buffy score? Well, they did, and it’s on Spotify.
  4. Vitamin String Quartet Performs The Nightmare Before Christmas – Vitamin String Quartet: I pretty much listen to this all year.

Now that you have your mood music, you can get started on all your Halloween reading, watching, costuming, crafting, cooking, and party planning. I know all this music and more will be on the background for the Oktoberfest party that I am hosting at the end of this month. Got any recommendations to share? Please leave them in the comments section!