The weather is starting to get chillier in our neck of the woods, which means fall has arrived! And with fall comes apple picking, pumpkin spice coffee, and of course, Halloween! We've noticed our list of 80s Halloween Songs has been gaining some traction early this year, so due to popular demand, we're getting a head start on our Halloween content and bringing you another decades-related list of Halloween hits!
Today we're diving into the spookiest songs of the 90s. We're talking about some grungy, rock-heavy, kooky, and even movie-themed tracks from the time period. While the 80s has the most commercially-successful Halloween songs, 90s Halloween songs are a bit more understated. But we think they're just as spine-chilling, scream-inducing, and monsterous!
Ready to bring the chill vibe of the 90s into your next Halloween party? Expand your Halloween playlist with these 17 ghoulish songs made in the decade.
"This Is Halloween" - Danny Elfman
The 90s had some great horror and Halloween flicks, and we're kicking off our list with a beloved classic from the film The Nightmare Before Christmas: "This Is Halloween." This creepy-yet-catchy song starts the movie. In "This Is Halloween" the citizens of Halloween Town introduce us to the neighborhood. We get solos from ghosts, a monster under the bed, corpses, vampires, witches, and even from the mayor!
"Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" - Backstreet Boys
Okay, so the lyrics to this iconic 90s banger don't have any specific mentions of Halloween or the macabre. But because of the unforgettable music video to this cultural phenomenon – which featured our swoon-worthy Backstreet Boys as spooky characters in a haunted castle – "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" has been closely associated with Halloween for years. We hope that when you blast this song at your next Halloween party, EVERYBODY in the room boogies like the dancers in the video!
"Enter Sandman" - Metallica
The lead single from Metallica’s commercially successful self-titled album, “Enter Sandman” has been certified platinum, selling over 1 million copies. It's Metallica’s biggest radio hit and is considered their signature song. The track follows the theme of childhood fear, in nightmares, with the eponymous Sandman symbolizing the sleep that the speaker dreads. While the Sandman of European folklore actually represents the bringer of good dreams, this Sandman is of the sinister variety. If the hardcore guitar melodies in this banger tell you anything, it's that he's someone to dread.
"Ghosts" - Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has released more spooky hits than just "Thriller." In 1997, Jackson released the LP Blood On The Dance Floor - HIStory In The Mix. Many of the songs on the record had eerie or dark themes, and "Ghosts" was one of the tracks included. In this dance-worthy tune, Jackson is haunted by a ghost who won't seem to go away. With the line "And who gave you the right to scare my family?" the piece is also a sly critique on the media, who often pestered Jackson and his family.
"I Put a Spell On You" - John Debney (feat. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker & Kathy Najimy)
Hocus Pocus is another iconic Halloween movie of the 90s, so we knew we had to include the witch's hypnotizing version of "I Put a Spell On You" on this list! It’s an upbeat version of the famous 1965 rock 'n' roll song of the same name by Jay Hawkins. This rendition contains some changes on the lyrics, but maintains its spooky essence. Of all the covers of "I Put a Spell On You," we believe this one is the most theatrical. Of course, that's what happens when you get a hold of the legendary Bette Midler. We can't wait for the sequel to Hocus Pocus at the end of this month (September 2022)!
"Red Right Hand" - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
It's Nick Cave's ominous voice and the threatening organ theme that make "Red Right Hand" a perfect choice for your next Halloween hangout. It's track 5 from Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds' eighth studio album Let Love In. The notion of a Red Right Hand goes back to John Milton’s Paradise Lost where it plays the role of an undefined threat. There are discussions among scholars whether it concerns the hand of Satan or the punishing hand of God himself. In this song, the Red Right Hand actually symbolizes the allure of material goods and wealth – and how in excess, they can lead to corruption of the mind.
"Jack the Ripper" - Morrissey
This Morrissey song is narrated by the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. Jack targeted prostitutes, who lived and worked in the East End of London slums in the late 1800s. Morrissey included this slow jam on his 1993 album Beethoven Was Deaf. This song in particular has become a staple of Morrissey’s recent live performances, with the song's presence being accompanied by a stage filling with a bloody red mist.
"Hell" - Squirrel Nut Zippers
A kooky and vintage-sounding romp that might make your Halloween partygoers burn up the dance floor! Squirrel Nut Zippers have some pretty Halloween-appropriate tracks, but "Hell" is Live365's personal favorite. It comes from the ironically-titled album Hot, and talks about the doom of the afterlife (more specifically, hell) over a fun melody. Despite its grim subject matter, "Hell" is a devilishly fun 90s hit!
"Possum Kingdom" - Toadies
On first listen, it's just a grungy song about a guy trying to get a lover to walk around a lake with him. Then you hear this guy has a "dark secret" to show his guest, and you realize this could either be a reference to vampirism, something crazy like a dead body, or just a sexual innuendo. No matter what it is, "Possum Kingdom" has a certain crazy edge that's perfect for Halloween. It's basically "Psycho Killer's" edgier little cousin.
"Dead Souls" - Nine Inch Nails
Many spine-chilling songs were included on the soundtrack of the 1994 gothic action flick The Crow. Our favorite song on the tracklist comes from Nine Inch Nails. "Dead Souls" is a rowdy cover of a song by Joy Division – The Crow creator James O'Barr’s favorite band. Like the dead souls mentioned in the song, you'll call out in delight when this rockin' song plays at your next undead bash!
"Witches' Rave" - Jeff Buckley
In this smooth Jeff Buckley bop, witches come to play. "Witches' Rave" is all about Buckley's mesmerizing pagan lover. Due to her past history of playing men, he starts to wonder whether her charm is natural or something unholy. Sultry and spellbinding, "Witches' Rave" is a cool tune to play during the lower moments of a party.
"Play Dead" - Björk
With its stirring violins, majestic orchestra, and Björk's soaring vocals, "Play Dead" feels ethereal and magical. But the subject matter is a bit on the frightening side, as it's all about Björk dealing with an optimistic lover while she's a more glass-half-empty kind of girl. In her "city of fear," she "plays dead" in order to ground herself. While "Play Dead" is certainly the most emo track on our list, it does have a positive message about not hiding yourself from your true feelings.
"Feed My Frankenstein" - Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper is one of the kings of Halloween songs. "Feed My Frankenstein" was released in 1991 as part of Cooper's album Hey Stoopid. In this suggestive song, Alice Cooper is acting as Dr. Frankenstein talking to his “monster” that dinner is arriving. Yes, it's all just a fun metaphor for Cooper's libido. "Feed My Frankenstein" got popular thanks to its inclusion in the movie Wayne's World. Like Wayne and Garth in the movie, we can't help but dance like crazy when this song plays loud and proud!
"Halloween on the Barbary Coast" - The Flaming Lips
Due to the title alone, we knew this Flaming Lips song had to be included on our list. This grungy guitar jam was part of the band's 1992 album Hit to Death in the Future Head and is all about well, you guessed it...celebrating Halloween on the Barbary coast. Believe it or not, the song actually came from an insult thrown at them while in Vegas at a casino called The Barbary Coast. Band member Wayne Coyne told Uncut magazine they approached a strike going on at the casino, and due to their ghoulish rocker outfits – which were dyed black – a man at the picket line said, "Look at this, it’s Halloween at the Barbary Coast!"
"Right Next Door to Hell" - Guns 'N Roses
We've all have had to deal with crazy neighbors, and "Right Next Door to Hell" is Guns 'N Roses' hellish take on the subject. "Right Next Door To Hell" is the first song off 1991’s Use Your Illusion I, and Axl Rose has stated that the lyrics are about his then-neighbor Gabriella Kantor, who accused him of assaulting her with a wine bottle and a piece of chicken...before throwing her apartment keys over Rose's 12th-story balcony. Her case was dismissed by the judge for insufficient evidence, and the chorus and bridge of "Right Next Door to Hell" came to be specifically about her.
"Flesh 'N Blood" - Oingo Boingo
Another Halloween-appropriate bop created by the one and only Danny Elfman! In the 80s, Elfman's band Oingo Boingo had two huge Halloween hits: "Weird Science" and "Dead Man's Party". In the 90s, they released the track "Flesh 'N Blood" for the soundtrack of Ghostbusters 2. While this song isn't as popular as their other two Halloween staples, we think it's an underrated fright fest with a very catchy chorus.
"Dark Secret" - Matthew Sweet
If you haven't seen the 90s witch cult classic The Craft yet, we highly recommend you do so. Matthew Sweet's grungy bop "Dark Secret" plays during the movie's middle half, when Nancy, Bonnie, Rochelle, and Sarah go out to the beach together to invoke the spirit. With a mix of Sweet's laid-back vocals, soft rock band sounds, and the ghostly noises of a theremin popping up every now and then, "Dark Secret" is a healthy mix of haunted and chill. A truly bewitching bop, indeed!
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Article Image: In a 90s VHS aesthetic, the killer's mask from the movie "Scream" (1996) sits on a surface next to jack o' lantern and bat-shaped confetti. (Artemisia_Absinthium via Shutterstock.)