Bored of hearing “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” every Halloween season? Here are some more modern alternatives, ranging from alternative rock to acapella pop.
Gerard Way – “Baby, You’re a Haunted House”
With most Halloween attractions remaining closed due to COVID-19, now is the perfect time to check out “Baby, You’re a Haunted House,” a lo-fi rock song likening a loved one’s mental state to a ghost-ridden home. Gerard Way explained to Louder Sound that the track is about “what it feels like being in love and having to deal with your own internal horror show.”
The Haxans – “Black Cat Bone”
The Haxans is a Halloween-themed duo consisting of Matt Montgomery, best known for being Rob Zombie’s bassist, and Ash Costello, frontwoman of the gothic rock band New Years Day. “Black Cat Bone” touches upon the hoodoo belief that a black cat’s bone can make someone invisible, with Montgomery and Costello hoping to avoid a “snake in the grass” who they can’t trust.
Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”
“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead,” Taylor Swift declares on “Look What You Made Me Do,” her triumphant return to the limelight after a very public downfall in 2016. She brings this lyric to life in the song’s music video, which opens with Swift as a zombie digging herself out of a grave. The final shot of the video sees Swift dressing up in several old music video costumes and looks she wore to award shows, reminiscent of a self-parodying costume party. It’s also worth noting that “LWYMMD” samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” as a nod to the Halloween party scene in Mean Girls that includes the song.
Halsey – “Ghost”
“Ghost” likens a now-distant lover to an invisible phantom who keeps escaping Halsey. Throughout the song, she implores, “my ghost, where’d you go? What happened to the soul that you used to be?” She feels haunted by positive memories with this person, wondering why their dynamic has changed over time.
New Years Day – “Skeletons”
“Skeletons” plays on the adage “skeletons in your closet,” with frontwoman Ash Costello asking a lover to be honest and forward with her. “I don’t fear the dark, show me all your scars,” Costello beckons over a delightfully creepy instrumental that would fit perfectly in a horror movie soundtrack. “Skeletons” is a celebration of self-acceptance with an eerie, classically New Years Day twist.
My Chemical Romance – “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”
“Vampires Will Never Hurt You” is one of the standout tracks on My Chemical Romance’s 2002 debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, a concept album describing several supernatural romances that come to tragic ends. Full of energy and drama, “Vampires…” is a high-stakes depiction of one couple’s fight against a group of bloodsuckers.
phem – “Creep”
phem gives Radiohead’s classic “Creep” a fresh, eerie spin, with wispy vocals and a chilling instrumental. The cover opens with a choir-like sound, reminiscent of a brisk fall wind, before integrating a poignant, commanding guitar riff. phem’s soft voice strongly juxtaposes the song’s harsh lyrics, insisting, “I want you to notice when I’m not around.”
Pentatonix – “Making Christmas”
“Making Christmas” is one of the most memorable musical numbers of the classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas, in which citizens of Halloween Town plan to take charge of Christmas festivities. Throughout the song, they make their own horrifying toys to give to young children, not realizing how different Christmas and Halloween are. Pentatonix illustrates this sharp contrast on their acapella cover of the song, which features both chillingly high vocals and echoing bass.
Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”
Though it’s not explicitly tied to Halloween, “Uma Thurman” samples a guitar riff from the Munsters theme song, making it a perfectly spooky party hit. The main hook, “she wants to dance like Uma Thurman,” drew inspiration from Thurman’s role as a woman seeking revenge on assassins in the 2003 classic Kill Bill.
PVRIS – “My House”
Much of PVRIS’ debut album, White Noise, uses paranormal imagery to explain discomfort, and “My House” is a perfect example. The song describes a ghost haunting someone’s home, which frontwoman Lynn Gunn explained was a metaphor for depression and mental illness. The bridge sees Gunn refusing to succumb to these feelings, announcing, “haven’t you heard? I’m not yours anymore.”
Hi! I’m Madison Murray, a pop culture and music writer who also loves writing about lifestyle and fashion. I have credits on sites like TREMG, Young Hollywood, and Audible Addixion, and I’m the founder of Melodic Musings. In addition to writing, I’m a community editor on Genius, lyric curator on Musixmatch, and a playlist curator at VOLUP2. My favorite artists include Taylor Swift, Machine Gun Kelly, BLACKPINK, Elko, phem, and YUNGBLUD. She/her.