15 Lesser-Known Halloween Songs to Put You in a Spooky Mood
Put aside “The Monster Mash," "Thriller," and the Ghostbusters theme. Spin these lesser-known songs in the lead up to All Hallows' Eve instead.
1. “A Nightmare on My Street,” The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff
This song, on the 1988 album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, hit #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Though the duo had been in talks to create a song for an upcoming A Nightmare of Elm Street film, it ultimately wasn’t authorized by New Line Cinemas, which held the copyright on the movies, and the song got Will Smith and Jeff Townes sued. A music video for the song had to be destroyed, and the matter was eventually settled out of court.
2. “Haunted House,” Jumpin’ Gene Simmons
Not the KISS bassist, but the rockabilly singer who once opened for Elvis. “Haunted House,” released in 1964, was a top 20 hit.
3. “Halloween Spooks,” Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
It’s hard not to smile while listening to this jazzy Halloween song.
4. “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” Tracy Jordan
30 Rock’s Tracy Jordan received a gold record for this “novelty party song.” Tracy Morgan only did part of the vocals, though; the rest were filled in by Donald Glover. “We did an extended version of ‘Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,’ and by the time we finished it, we were wrapped and didn’t have Tracy,” 30 Rock creator and star Tina Fey told Entertainment Weekly. “So half of it is just Donald imitating Tracy.”
5. “Dinner with Drac,” John Zacherle
The late night television horror host, also known as “The Cool Ghoul,” released this track in 1958.
6. “The Werewolf Watusi,” Bobby “Boris” Pickett
The success of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s 1962 song “The Monster Mash” led to many other monster-themed songs, including this one, released in 1964. (Also worth a listen: The Christmas song “Monster’s Holiday.”)
7. “The Headless Horseman,” Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby's "The Headless Horseman" might not exactly be "lesser known," but this classic, from Disney’s 1949 short The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, deserves more play this time of year.
8. “Punky Punkin,” Rosemary Clooney
This sweet song—which notes that the pumpkin is happy because “he’s a jack o’lantern instead of being a pumpkin pie”—was released in 1950.
9. “Dead Man’s Party,” Oingo Boingo
The lyric "I hear the chauffeur comin' to my door/Says there's room for maybe just one more" in this 1986 song (off their fifth studio album of the same name, released in 1985) is supposedly a reference to E.F. Benson's 1906 short story "The Bus-Conductor," which features a hearse driver.
10. “The Boogie Woogieman,” The Brian Sisters
This talented trio of sisters was popular in the 1930s and '40s. Betty, Doris and Gwen recorded "The Boogie Woogieman" with the Will Osborne Orchestra; it was released in 1942.
11. “Skeleton in the Closet,” Louis Armstrong
This song appeared on the soundtrack to the 1936 film Pennies from Heaven, in which Armstrong played Henry.
12. “The Monster Hop,” Bert Convy
Before Bert Convy was the host of game shows like Super Password and Win, Lose or Draw, he released this rock 'n roll Halloween song in 1958.
13. “My Body’s a Zombie for You,” Dead Man’s Bones
The band Dead Man's Bones is actually a duo: actor Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields, who met in 2005, when Gosling was dating Rachel McAdams and Shields was dating her sister. According to Pitchfork, "The pair bonded over a shared obsession with scary stuff like ghosts, monsters, and zombies, and set out to create a spooky musical theater production," a "Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire kind of show," as Gosling described it. Somewhere along the way, the "theater production" aspect of it fell to the wayside, but the songs remained. They released their self-titled debut album in October 2009.
14. “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” Buddy Baker
Otherwise known as the song that plays in Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride.
15. “The Wobblin’ Goblin,” Rosemary Clooney
This track was the B-side to Clooney’s “Punky Punkin.”