by Anne Erickson
From Alice Cooper to Rob Zombie, head-splittingly heavy music has a lengthy history of complimenting all things horrific, and what better time to recognize those menacing musicians than this week? Read on for our list of the Top 10 Halloween Songs of All Time, offering some killer tracks to get you in the mood for Halloween. What are your favorite scary tunes? Give us your picks in the comments area!
10. King Diamond, “Halloween”
Who better to craft a Halloween hit than Kim Petersen, a ka King Diamond? “Halloween” is taken from the singer’s debut solo album, Fatal Portrait, and while the track’s music is heavy and dark, the lyrics are what really make the ditty fit on this list.
9. The Misfits, “Halloween”
It’s only fitting that the Misfits would unleash a Halloween-themed song, and they did so on Oct. 31, 1981, with “Halloween.” Nobody does Halloween like these guys, and this terrifying track was the band’s fifth and final single to feature guitarist Bobby Steele, making it extra special.
8. The Ramones, “Pet Sematary”
The Ramones got it right on this spine-chilling Halloween-appropriate track. Their title track for the Stephen King film is certainly one of the group’s darker sonic endeavors, and it’s a refreshing change from their more well-known sound.
7. Helloween, “Halloween”
Our list wouldn’t be complete without adding German metallers Helloween to the mix; the guys who actually named themselves after the holiday. While all of Helloween’s songs would fit the bill, we’re going with the most apparent, “Halloween,” a creepy classic.
6. Iron Maiden, “Fear of the Dark”
Man, the lyrics alone in Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” give us nightmares! The song is a great Halloween track, with its menacing nature and dark textures.
5. Tool, “Sober”
Tool’s “Sober” is a classic. The track arrived on the band’s 1993 debut, Undertow, and it took the band from underground metal players to superstars in the mainstream rock contingent. “Sober’s” lingering, wandering beats and Maynard James Keenan’s tortured vocals make this a great fit for any Halloween shindig.
4. Rob Zombie, “Living Dead Girl”
Halloween brings zombies and other post-mortem terrors out, and perhaps no rocker is more accustomed to the horror world — and the horror film industry — as Rob Zombie. While many Zombie tracks would fit on this list, we think “Living Dead Girl” is the quintessential Zombie Halloween song.
3. Slayer, “Raining Blood”
Are you surprised to see Slayer on this list? We didn’t think so. Aside from its Halloween-appropriate moniker, “Raining Blood” carries one of the most wicked guitar metal riffs of all time. Add to that creepy lyrics and you’ve got a song purpose-made for the Halloween holiday.
2. Pantera, “Cemetery Gates”
Metal went through a dark time in the ‘90s, and Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” is the culmination of all good things metal at the decade’s onset. It’s just the kind of track one would expect to hear on Halloween, with themes revolving around death, inspired by Phil Anselmo losing a loved one to suicide.
1. Alice Cooper, “Welcome to My Nightmare”
Any Alice Cooper track could be deemed a Halloween song, but when it comes to the haunting holiday, we have to go with “Welcome to My Nightmare.” With lyrics like “Welcome to my nightmare / Welcome to my breakdown … We sweat and laugh and scream here / 'Cause life is just a dream here” coupled with allusions to Coop’s bloody battles, this classic will always be No. 1 in our book! -HC -
Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.A