Spooky Szn: Essential Vinyl Records for Halloween

Spooky Szn: Essential Vinyl Records for Halloween

There are few things better than taking a walk around the neighborhood as October draws to a close. There's a crisp chill in the air, the streets are lined with brownish amber leaves, and there's the strange feeling of being watched by smiling jack-o'-lanterns wherever you look. Halloween is nearly upon us, decorations serving as a reminder to get that candy bowl ready for costumed trick-or-treaters. If you're throwing a party, heading out on the town, or just enjoying the spooky vibes, you're going to need the right music. Here are some essential vinyl records for the Halloween season. 

Thriller (1982) — Michael Jackson

What would a Halloween playlist be without Thriller? Though he was already a superstar, Thriller is the record that made Michael Jackson the biggest name in music and helped to transform the concept of the music video into an art form rather than a promotional tool. Jackson took it over the top with the video for "Thriller," essentially a 14 minute long musical short film that is dotted head-to-toe with horror movie references. The Thriller Dance has become iconic, featuring a zombified Jackson performing a choreographed dance with a horde of zombies. 

Talking Heads: 77 (1977) — Talking Heads

New wave was still in its relative infancy when Talking Heads arrived to blow the doors open on the genre. The New York based outfit received instant acclaim, drawing attention for their humorous lyrics and the quirky vocal style and fashion sense of frontman David Byrne. It's the record's penultimate track that lands them on this list, "Psycho Killer," coming in with an iconic bass line as Byrne implores us to "run run away."

Turn Off the Light (2019) — Kim Petras

It's not often you get an entire Halloween-themed pop album, but pop superstar Kim Petras delivered in 2019. Turn Off the Light hits all the tropes, from macabre organ to creepy, horror inspired lyrics, but the album is anything but cliché. Petras manages to combine those staples of the genre with an upbeat, dance pop tempo that manages to keep listeners on edge from start to finish. The mixtape spawned the single "Party Till I Die," a song now known as one of Petras' signature tracks. 

Meliora (2015) — Ghost

Ghost exemplifies everything fun about the Halloween season. The Swedish band takes a decidedly tongue-in-cheek approach to their music and style, led by a man playing a Satanic Pope named Papa Emeritus who is "replaced" every few years, flanked by a band of Nameless Ghouls. Ghost's music takes inspiration from '70s classic rock, combined with silly, flamboyant lyrics that make them a perfect addition to your October vinyl collection. 

Bella Donna (1981) — Stevie Nicks

On top of the world as a member of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks struck it solo with Bella Donna in 1981. Nicks has always been known for her witchy vibes, from the sultry nature of her voice to the high-contrast album cover. Bella Donna contains some of Nicks' biggest hits, from her signature song "Edge of Seventeen" to the eerie ballad "Leather and Lace." Throughout Bella Donna, Nicks manages to deliver a heavier sound than her work on Fleetwood Mac while retaining an ethereal, mysterious energy. 

 

Blackwater Park (2001) — Opeth

Five albums into their career, progressive death metal group Opeth fully hit their stride with Blackwater Park. The record saw Opeth approach their music with a new level of complexity and maturity, embracing their prog metal influences completely. Blackwater Park's dark lyrical themes and creepy musical motifs match bandleader Mikael Åkerfeldt's roaring death growls to create a record that may genuinely scare its listener. "The Drapery Falls" is a particular highlight, as Åkerfeldt moves seamlessly between growls and sung vocals across an 11 minute epic. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) — Various Artists

Campy, provocative and bizarre, there's never been quite anything like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film adaptation of the Broadway musical of similar name. The show, to be Frank (hehehe) is hard to describe in a few sentences, but features characters and a plotline largely inspired by B horror movies, led by a cross-dressing, leather clad Tim Curry. Nearly every song on the soundtrack is iconic, but "Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite" stand out among the rest as the film's defining moments. Just remember, don't dream it, be it. 

 

Blood Money (2002) — Tom Waits

Tom Waits is one of those artists you'll be able to identify from the first beat, even before he chimes in with his signature gravelly voice. Heavily influenced by jazz and vaudeville, Blood Money listens like a dark cabaret, from the creepy marimba to Waits' devilish vocal style. The jazzy "Everything Goes to Hell" is Tom Waits at his most Tom Waits, a darkly comedic that sees Waits opine "I don't believe you go to heaven when you're good, everything goes to hell."

6 Feet Deep (1994) — Gravediggaz

After taking over East Coast hip hop with Wu-Tang Clan in 1993, RZA set his sights on side project Gravediggaz, a horror themed hip hop group that saw him take on the name RZArector. Similar to Wu-Tang, Gravediggaz quickly became known for their dark sense of humor and hardcore, gritty approach to music. 6 Feet Deep contributed tremendously to the foundation of horrorcore hip hop, a darker subgenre of hip hop containing many of the same elements of horror films. 

Black Sabbath (1970) — Black Sabbath

Though rock music had been gradually getting heavier as the '60s progressed, there was never anything like Black Sabbath. The album is generally accepted to be the origin of the heavy metal, beginning with church bells and distorted, droning guitars before the entrance of Ozzy Osbourne's sinister sounding vocals. The lyrical content is heavily influenced by occultism, giving listeners a sense of despair completely unheard of in rock music at the time. Throughout the '70s, heavy metal went as Black Sabbath went, and the band continues to be regarded as the godfathers of metal.