You’re on Family Feud and Steve Harvey stares you straight in the eyes and asks you “name a music video that’s popular on Halloween.” If you’re like 90% of the population in the United States, you blurt out one answer “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. Smug Steve Harvey nods in approvement.
Incidentally, the other 10% would probably say Monster Mash, but let me give you a few facts about those 2 songs. First of all, Monster Mash was a hit by Boris Pickett in 1962 and there wasn’t really a video for it, just him singing. (You can also find some clever and, not so clever, homemade videos of the Monster Mash on YouTube.)
Answering Monster Mash for Halloween Videos is like when Harvey asks Name Something You Buy On Vacation and the contestant screams something inane, like, socks.
The point is, for those bad at math, Monster Mash was released over fifty years ago, a good, full generation before MTV. Now there have been re-releases, covers, and inclusions on basically every Halloween compilation ever made, but nothing new. I ask, what the heck have all these bands been doing since the turn of the new millennium?
And poor Michael, let’s not pile on there, he’s been dead since 2009. For all you hipsters out there yelling at your computer screen “This is Halloween” from the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack, that was released in 1993, over 20 years ago.
So for those who are willing to do a little digging (pun intended), these are the Top 10 New (er) Halloween videos.
Honorable Mention: The Dangers of Halloween by Yotam Perel
Found on AlbinoBlackSheep’s YouTube Channel (2008)
There is no music, but this may be the best Spoken Word Halloween Video. Ever.
Make sure you don’t end up at the Hospitol!
10. Walking With a Ghost by Tegan and Sara (2004)
I used to hear this song all the time on local college station WBWC. I thought it was a really good local Halloween song and only learned after the fact that Walking with a Ghost was a college radio phenomenon and the single was also on the soundtrack to the 2005 movie Monster-in- Law.
The video is eerie with multiple Tegans and Saras. I know there’s a deeper meaning than simply walking with a ghost. Just don’t ask me what it is.
9. Big Brat by Phantom Planet (2004)
The only thing better than a zombie video, is the making of a zombie video. The second part of Big Brat is the 2 minute Le Zombie Du Noir. Again, with a nod to classic horror yore, this song is as catchy of a Halloween Song you’re ever gonna hear.
Phantom Planet kind of fell of the map, but to me they were too talented to just fade away. In researching this article, I found out I was right, they broke up in 2009, with only brief reunions since and hinted for in the future.
8. Sheena is a Parasite by the Horrors (2006)
Clocking in at only a minute and a half, Sheena is scary, the Horrors are scary, combined they are frantic Halloween Treat.
Staking out territory between the Ramones and the Misfits, the Horrors seem to be kindred spirits of both.
7. Peacebone by Animal Collective (2007)
Not so much a terrifying video, but a strange quirky love story. A nice theme for Halloween parties, even Monsters need love too.
Animal Collective themselves are beyond categorization, with experimental pop being the label that comes closest to describing what those guy do.
6. Down to Rest by O’Death (2007)
A video with a real Mystery Science Theatre 3000 feel to it, the bluesy-slow paced ditty is about taking that final sleep that we all take. Perfect drinking song about death.
O’Death continues to spread their alt-country, hybrid type of music to all parts of the nation on their 2016 Tour with Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. You really should do yourself a favor and check out both bands at a very reasonable price.
5. Coffee by Aesop Rock (2007)
The last track off of 2007’s None Shall Pass album, Aesop Rock joins forces with a unique collaborator in John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats and creates an amazingly underrated Halloween Video. Reminding the viewer of a low-budget horror movie, circa, about 1975, Aesop Rock clearly relishes production, at one point his own bloody body is dragged across the floor while he’s rapping. The lyrics are complicated, yet skew toward the nonsensical at the beginning, but by the end Darnielle’s contributions are vital in cementing the song as a Halloween classic.
4. Kids by MNGT (2007)
When you’re a kid, monsters are everywhere. At the end of the day, is there a scarier message than that? The last minute is very dark and depressing, especially for a pop song.
Kids was MNGT’s highest charting single in the U.S., only going up to #91, but somehow managed to go Platinum.
3. Your Favorite Fox Cartoon
This one's not a cop out, I simply admit that I cannot predict the future. A generation from now, who knows which one of these will be a cult Halloween classic. Here are 3 possibilities, all from the same Network:
I Love You So Much (It’s Scary) – Bob’s Burgers (2015)
Even though the song is cheesy, it’s over-the-top cheesy. The beloved Belchers are watching their favorite boy band Boyz 4 Now sing their Halloween Hit I Love U So Much (It’s Scary) as they make comments during the episode, and then sing along in the end credits. First aired in 2015, the "Hauntening," will surely go down as a Season 6 must see for Bob’s Burgers fans….
Grown Up Halloween - Simpsons (2015)
….while the Simpsons rolled out their vaguely familiar parody of the Time Warp in Season 27’s episode"Halloween of Horror." Not a Treehouse of Horror, for installment XXVI would follow the next week in 2015, but a stand alone episode. Saucier than the Belchers’ song, the SImpsons just celebrated their 600th episode, so it’s hard to tell which songs of theirs will become classics and which ones won’t stand the test of time….
Iraq Lobster- Family Guy (2011)
...Or if you like your comedy a little more mean-spirited, I know it’s a stretch, but I have read, a minimum, of 10 Halloween lists while prepping for this article that cite Rock Lobster by the B-52’s as a MUST have on your Halloween Playlist. Here Peter Griffin sings the neat parody Iraq Lobster with an uncharacteristically subtle video in the episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q."
2. Came Back Haunted by Nine Inch Nails (2013)
Industrial genius Trent Reznor evolved his core from Angst to Dark Ambiance somewhere around the Fragile LP. Don’t get me wrong, Reznor can still bring it, but his primary focus nowadays appears to be creating bleak atmospheres.
With that being said, in 2013 Reznor rolled out his Hesitation Marks album and enlisted 70 year old film director David Lynch to direct the music video for his lead single Came Back Haunted.
Yes, the same David Lynch of Twin Peaks and Eraserhead fame.
(Warning: Video not for those prone to seizures. If you don’t believe me, watch the disclaimer at the beginning.)
1. Secular Haze by Ghost B.C. (2013)
Straddling the fine line between classic metal and over-the-top modern theatrics, if Halloween had a house band, it would look exactly like Ghost.
I speculate that lead singer Papa Emeritus III (who may or may not be related to former lead singers Papa Emeritus & Papa Emeritus II), would look scornfully on my inclusion of Ghost on this list, they won the 2016 Grammy for Best Metal Performance after all, but for me there ‘s something just a bit cartoonish about Ghost that follows a Halloween vibe instead of a hardcore metal feeling.
The video appears as if it’s on the set of a Satanic American Bandstand and the lyrics, well, they’re standard Ghost fare, shadows, darkness, and omnipotent eyes. Flat out creepy.