Okay, cards on the table, we’re putting this out late. We were supposed to put this out originally
in time for Halloween proper- but our entire staff is made up of students, most of whom are unpaid, so cut us some slack. In any case, we here at the Moose believe there’s never a bad time to get into the spooky mood! So, from the zany, to the macabre, to the downright terrifying, these are U92 The Moose’s Halloween favorites!
Make sure to check out the playlist below for all the songs we mentioned in this article and more!
Talking Heads - Psycho Killer (1977)
With eclectic influence from Otis Redding, Norman Bates, and Alice Cooper- and an extended bridge spoken entirely in French- the Talking Heads signature debut hit leads quite the legacy. The lyrics here are menacing and esoteric, but frontman David Byrne performs them so theatrically that it reads just like a campy horror movie; with the song's would-be killer delivering a knowing wink to the audience. The band is absolutely locked in here as well, with Tina Weymouth’s instantly recognizable bassline being especially standout. Despite being reportedly written as a joke, ‘Psycho Killer’ is as magnetic as it is idiosyncratic and is sure to keep teaching hipsters what “Qu’est-ce que c’est” means for generations.
Ministry - (Everyday is) Halloween (1984)
A banner song for the goth scene of the 80’s, Ministry’s “Everyday is Halloween” is a uniting force of a song which stands as an anthem to the ostracized. With a palpably nostalgic synthpop backing (which sort of only teases the industrial metal sound which would soon become the band's trademark) lead singer Al Jourgenson pleads for empathy from an uncaring mainstream; yet is entirely unwilling to change anything about himself to get said respect. Behind the “Ba Ba Ba Ba '' vocalizations and blast beats then, there is a joyous, cathartic contempt that has connected with audiences through generations on a base level, making for a halloween staple that still stands the test of time.
Suicide - Frankie Teardrop (1977)
Perhaps the most infamous track the electronic avant- garde duo had ever released, Frankie teardrop relays the capitalist nightmare of a factory worker driven to the point of homicidal insanity. Consisting sparsely of a drum machine, keyboard line, and Alan Vega’s dark, paranoid vocal delivery- the track has received decades of critical acclaim. It’s dark subject matter, disturbing nature, and political viewpoint make the outsized influence it’s had doubly impressive- going on to inspire more mainstream acts like Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, and more. Deeply unsettling and upsetting, with ‘Frankie Teardrop’, Suicide pushed the limits of both music and horror media creating a legacy listen, even if it’s not one you’re likely to be returning to often.
Lemon Demon - Touch-Tone Telephone (2016)
Internet-era wunderkind Neil Cicierega dropped this dizzying electro punk banger on his 2016 record ‘Spirit Phone’. The song, as well as most of the record, perfectly encapsulates the quirky, unorthodox fun of the paranormal and occult. Here, through stellar production, Neil plays the part of a conspiracy theorist attempting to share his findings with others. Though the disjointed dictations about space nazis, Leonard Nimoy, and Robert Stack keep things humorously deranged, the great success of the song lyrically is just how dynamic Cicierega’s character becomes. In just three short minutes we get a peek beyond the conspiracy to learn some of our narrator’s fears, insecurities, proving some testament to Neil as a songwriter in a genre where that craft is often less emphasized.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbxL5BVEkRs
TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me (2006)
One of the most enduring songs of the mid-00’s post-punk revival, there’s a certain type of raw nerve present in nearly every element of TVOTR’s ‘Wolf Like Me’. From the classic four-on-the-floor drumming, to the ever present synth drone which underscores the entire track, to, most notably, frontman Tunde Adebimpe’s half sung half dictated vocals which read like a preacher proselytizing the gospel. Lyrically the song matches this energy to a tee as Tunde relays a tale of werewolf transformation as an allegory for pure desire. While there is some level of menace in this transformation, there is also a palpable sense of power and freedom which has made this track such a staple of the band.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1-xRk6llh4
Clipping. - Blood of the Fang (2019)
One of the many standout tracks from experimental rap groups' last two horrorcore revival LPs. ‘Blood of the Fang’ may be one of the group's more conventional tracks from an instrumental standpoint- still the heavy electronic dance elements along with the consistent reliance on an obscure sample from the 1973 blaxploitation horror flick ‘Ganja and Hess’ keep things as eclectic as ever. Lyrically, frontman Daveed Diggs pens one of his most timely and poignant tracks. A vicious call to arms against white supremacy against a fantastical backdrop which reimagines black civil rights leaders and activists within the vampire mythos. Still, amongst all the darkness and weighty political nature of the songs themes, the energy in the delivery is simply undeniable and ought to have a listener coming back dozens of times over.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9EsHbqmjN4
They Might Be Giants - Where Your Eyes Don’t Go (1988)
A hokey, surreal tune from the absurdist pop duo ‘Where Your Eyes Don’t Go’ was reportedly written about a nightmare frontman John Linnell had as a child. Lyrically and musically the song feels appropriate for such an origin story. Instrumentally this track reads as many early TMBG songs do, short and to the point with heavy reliance on unconventional electronics as well as some live guitar and accordion provided by Johns Flansburgh and Linnell, respectively. But, while the Giants have always excelled in contrasting the absurd and nightmarish in a tightly wrapped pop package- the strange lyricism here (relating to some fear of the unknowable) has both made this song a favorite amongst many fans including the likes of Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman and one which is perfect for the Halloween season.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZiG_5soWxg
Backxwash - Song of Sinners (2021)
Starting slow with some ambient noise reminiscent of early pioneers like Throbbing Gristle or The Rita, Polaris prize winning artist Backxwash subtly sets up one of her best tracks so far. The noise soon morphs into some sickly detuned piano plucking which then morphs into a sort of guitar-laden rap rock affair, over which Backxwash (real name: Ashanti Mutinta) delivers some cut throat verses. Thematically, the song takes to task the horrors of dogmatic religious indoctrination, with chorus duties being handled by Sadie DuPuis (Sad13, Speedy Ortiz) and Ada Rook (Black Dresses) delivering vocals and guitar respectively. By the end of it’s all-too-short runtime the song devolves into the same noise wall with which it started, making for a nice thematic throughline. Overall, ‘SONG OF SINNERS’ blends elements of rap, metal, noise, industrial, and even neoclassical to truly electrifying results.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbVPwn0dpdw
Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy (1997)
One of Richard D James’ most enduring tracks under the Aphex Twin moniker, ‘Come to Daddy’ is equal parts blood pumping and nerve-wracking. Kicking off with a bassy, growling synth which mimics an electric guitar lick, powerful, industrial percussion soon begins to underscore James’ strained voice repeating the lyrics “I will eat your soul”. It would be frightening if it wasn’t so enthralling. Things become more bombastic until the vocals eventually fall into a guttural scream, making for one of James’ most forthrightly aggressive and antagonistic tracks. Still, I would be remiss to put this song on this list without also talking about the music. Directed by british video artist Chris Cunningham, the video depicts a group of children wearing masks of James' now infamous distorted smile as they wreak havoc, terrorize passing adults and summon a creature from a television (who also wears a distortion of James face as a mask). A video that brilliantly displays Cunningham’s work, it feels tailor made for this song; for all of the surreal, frightening, things that entils.CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL PLAYLIST