10 Best Halloween Songs

Halloween is seen as a time of spooky sights and sounds, and the music associated with the holiday is no exception. These are the songs that, in my opinion, best capture the mood and the spirit of Halloween.

“The Addams Family” Theme Song: Even though this song sounds dated, it’s the theme song for a television show that features a cast of characters one would associate with the Halloween season. Halloween would definitely be the perfect time to listen this one.

Aqua – “Halloween”: While Aqua is best known for their song, “Barbie Girl,” the group recorded this song for their second album, Aquarius. The song opens with a female receiving a stalking phone call from a creepy-sounding male voice. The lyrics to this song make many references to Halloween, as well as to elements from the horror genre. While this may be a more upbeat, bubbly pop song, it still contains a Halloween spirit.

Cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – “The Time Warp”: The film The Rocky Horror Picture Show really does have Halloween written all over it, even if it’s not really set at that time of year; the film has been shown on television on Halloween over the years, so that really helps to cement a Halloween connection. “The Time Warp” is definitely the most well-known song from the film, and its connection with the film gives it credence to be considered a Halloween song.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – “Nightmare on My Street”: This is an upbeat, fun, “old school” rap song that contains a lot of references to Jason and the Nightmare on Elm Street film franchise. While Halloween itself may never be mentioned in this song, it still should be considered a Halloween song.

Michael Jackson – “Thriller”: This Michael Jackson classic has become very strongly associated with the Halloween season. The lyrics of this song evoke the imagery and sounds associated with classic films of the horror genre to the listener. Also, the inclusion of horror film legend Vincent Price in the song lends even more credence to “Thriller” being a song for the Halloween season.

Ministry – “Everyday is Halloween”: This song was recorded during the band’s early years, so it doesn’t sound anywhere near as aggressive as Ministry’s later material. However, with the title, “Everyday is Halloween,” it really does warrant being considered a Halloween song.

Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters”: This song is best known for being the theme song for the film, Ghostbusters. While this may be an upbeat and bubbly pop song that sounds dated, it still can be seen as a Halloween song since it has a lot of references to ghosts.

Bobby “Boris” Picket – “Monster Mash”: This song is definitely a “gimme” when it comes to a list of Halloween songs. Even though the song itself may sound a little cheesy and dated, the theme of the song and its lyrics are very appropriate for the Halloween season.

The Who – “Boris the Spider”: While the song itself may not be connected to Halloween, it’s about a creature that is strongly associated with the holiday. And since some people do have a fear of spiders, it makes sense to consider this one as a Halloween song.

Warren Zevon – “Werewolves of London”: The werewolf is another creature that is connected with the Halloween holiday. Therefore, it makes sense to consider this song a Halloween song, even if there aren’t any blatant references to the holiday in its lyrics.

Skid Row – “I Remember You”

“I Remember You” was released as the third and final single from Skid Row’s self-titled album. The single was released on November 18, 1989 and it peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This was one of the power ballads that became popular during my freshman year of high school. I’d heard “18 And Life,” the previous single, just a few months earlier and absolutely loved it. I remember when I first heard “I Remember You” that I liked it immediately. I think it was a combination of Sebastian Bach’s vocal delivery and the feel of the music that ultimately grabbed my attention. Listening to this about 25 years later, I realize that unlike many of the power ballads released by the hair metal bands of the late 1980s, “I Remember You” really doesn’t sound that dated. To me, it’s a song that’s really withstood the test of time and is just as strong and poignant now as it was when it was originally released.

The music video for the song also helped with my appreciation for the song back in late 1989/early 1990. It’s a video that intercuts footage of the band with scenes of a downtrodden man wandering the streets and looking at photographs of his ex-girlfriend. After stumbling upon Skid Row performing the song in what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, the guy comes to realize that he needs to find the strength to move on from his failed relationship. It’s a rather simple story that’s being told in the video, but I think that the audience is able to feel empathy for the character due to his situation being so relatable.

I’m embedding the music video for “I Remember You” below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.

Soul II Soul – “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)”

Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” was released as the act’s second single and featured vocals by Caron Wheeler. It was originally released in the UK in May of 1989, and was released in the United States later that year. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Caron Wheeler wrote and sang the lead vocals for both this track, as well as Soul II Soul’s first single, “Keep on Movin’.” Prior to working with Soul II Soul, she had done backup vocals for Elvis Costello, Howard Jones, and on two of the songs on Erasure’s The Innocents album (“Chains of Love” and “Yahoo!”).

The version of the song that appears on Soul II Soul’s album (Club Classics Vol. One internationally, while it was titled Keep On Movin’ in the United States) is an a cappella track. Before being released as a single, it was re-worked and re-mixed and the “However Do You Want Me” subtitle was added to the title.

I was in the ninth grade when this song was released, and it was one of those songs I heard quite a bit at school dances that year. As a dance track, it holds up well, even today. Unlike a lot of the dance music that came out during the late 1980s and early 1990s, “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” doesn’t sound very dated.

The music video is a rather simple affair, but it’s overall an enjoyable viewing experience and works well with the song. Something that I just didn’t catch or really pay attention before is how some shots repeat back-to-back two or three times to create a “stutter” effect. When I watched the video before writing up this post, I noticed this several times and it ended up drawing too much attention to itself. Oh well. I still like the song, anyway.

I am embedding the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.

Tom Petty – “Free Fallin'”

“Free Fallin'” was the third single to be released from Tom Petty’s 1989 album, Full Moon Fever. The single was released on October 27, 1989; it peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1990.

I was in the ninth grade when this song came out, and I really liked it at the time. Even though the topic of the song, which is about nostalgia and looking back, didn’t mean a lot to me back then since I was only 14 years old, there was still something about “Free Fallin'” that grabbed me. It probably helped at the time that this was the follow-up singe to “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which is a song I really liked.

Now that I’m older, I’ve gained a much better appreciation and much better understanding of not only the meaning of “Free Fallin’,” but I’ve also gained a better understanding of the mood of the song. It’s been about 25 years since this song was released as a single, and it still ranks as one of my favorite Tom Petty songs ever.

I think what may have also helped me to like this song as much as I did in late 1989/early 1990s was the music video. While it seems rather simple on the surface, there are some interesting things going on visually with it. I sat down to watch the video before writing this up, and I think I may have picked up on a couple of things visually that I hadn’t seen before over the past 25 years.

I’m embedding the video for “Free Fallin'” below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.

Seduction – “Two to Make It Right”

“Two to Make It Right” was the third single to be released from Seduction’s album, Nothing Matters Without Love, and it was released on November 30, 1989.

Seduction started out as a studio project, with the first single, “Seduction” (later renamed “Seduction’s Theme”) with vocals done by Carol Cooper. The second single, “(You’re My One and Only) True Love,” featured uncredited vocals by Martha Wash from The Weather Girls; this became such an unexpected hit that producers Robert Clivillés and David Cole assembled a trio of girls with the appeal they wanted (April Harris, Michelle Visage, and Idalis Deleon) to become Seduction and promote the single. Harris lip-synched to Martha Wash’s vocals in the video and for television performances. In mid-1990 Deleon left the group and was replaced by Sinoa Loren.

“Two to Make It Right” was the group’s most successful single, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. They managed to have two more singles that had some degree of success, but then in late 1990, it was revealed that Seduction was being sued by Martha Wash for not giving her credit for her contribution to “(You’re My One and Only) True Love” and trying to make it appear that Harris performed the vocals because of her appearance in the music video. Wash was able to successfully sue to receive proper credit, and appropriate royalties, as the vocalist on not only this song by Seduction, but on “Everybody Everybody” by Black Box and “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C + C Music Factory.

Needless to say, this brought Seduction’s career to a halt, and the trio disbanded in 1991.

I have to admit that even with the lip-synching scandal, I still do enjoy Seduction’s material. “Two to Make It Right” was catchy back in late 1989 and early 1990, and it’s still pretty darn catchy now. It does also “borrow” a little bit from other songs, such as the hook from Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two” (which in itself was a sample of Lyn Collins’ “Think (About It),” as well as the phrase “turn this mutha out” from the MC Hammer song of the same name. Wikipedia is also claiming the song borrows from The Art of Noise’s cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” but I’ve never picked up on that; I may have to take another listen later and see if I can find that borrowing.

Anyway, “Two to Make It Right” is still a fun song that’s got a great beat and you can dance to it.

The music video definitely screams “late 1980s,” though, especially with the bright-colored clothing the girls wear and their hairstyles. It’s also on the cheesy side, but after realizing how the trio came together in the first place, it’s understandable why the video was so cheap and cheesy.

I’m embedding the video for “Two to Make It Right” below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.

Cher – “Just Like Jesse James”

“Just Like Jesse James” was released as the second single from Cher’s 1989 album, Heart of Stone. The single was released in October 1989 and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was in the ninth grade when this song came out, and it grabbed me the very first time I heard it. There’s just something about the opening of this song that just grabs the listener’s attention and makes you want to listen to it. While it fit in with the music that was being released at that time, it also had a sound that wasn’t very common in pop at that time.

I’ve also always enjoyed the lyrics of the song, especially how much it incorporates images of Wild West bandit Jesse James as well as other phrases and images from the Wild West. To me, “Just Like Jesse James” has really stood the test of time, and it doesn’t sound dated. I enjoy this song just as much today as I did when it was being promoted as a single back in late 1989 and early 1990. It’s still one of my favorite songs on the Heart of Stone album.

At the time, I never saw a music video for “Just Like Jesse James,” because MTV never showed it; so I thought for years that there wasn’t a video for the song. I discovered that a music video does indeed exist for it when I found a couple of copies posted on YouTube. It turns out it’s nothing terribly spectacular; it basically intercuts footage from the “I Found Someone” music video with clips from Western films. And it also appears that the video uses an edited version of the song that fades out near the bridge.

I’m embedding a copy of the music video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.

Technotronic – “Pump Up the Jam”

“Pump Up the Jam” was the lead-off single for Technotronic’s album of the same name. The single was released in 1989, and it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1990.

The song was a very catchy dance number, and it definitely sounds like a product of its time. Honestly, I can see why it performed so well at the time. While it didn’t age well, I have to admit that I still enjoy listening to it. It definitely still ranks up there as one of my favorite dance songs that came out while I was in the ninth grade.

Of course, we can’t get into a discussion of this song without getting into the controversy that arose. At the time the song was released, it was credited as being by Technotronic featuring Felly; also, the album was originally given this same credit. Felly is the woman who appeared in the “Pump Up the Jam” video and on the album cover. It came out that Felly didn’t actually sing or rap on the album; she was simply a model who lip-synched in the video.

I have to admit that I kind of suspected that something was up when I was listening to Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 one week, and Felly was interviewed during it. She didn’t speak a word of English and needed to have a translator in order to do the interview. Admittedly, the lyrics in “Pump Up the Jam” are rather simplistic and a non-English speaker could have learned how to perform it, but that interview bothered me at the time. Not too long after, my suspicions were proven to be correct. After it was discovered that Felly wasn’t an actual performer, the artwork for the album was changed, and the “featuring Felly” credit was removed as well. This lip-synching controversy ended up only being the tip of the iceberg for these kinds of scandals; later in 1990, the infamous Milli Vanilli scandal broke, and a short time later, Martha Wash accused C&C Music Factory, Seduction, and Black Box of using her voice on their recordings and not giving her credit.

The music video for “Pump Up the Jam” was definitely a product of its time. It’s a very late-1980’s club video, and there’s a lot of flashing lights, bright colors, cheesy text, etc. This video aged even worse than the actual song did. The video is about 25 years old, and watching it now can be a rather painful experience.

For those who are brave enough to watch it, I’ve embedded the video below. I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.