THE LIST: music to pick your last-minute, ironic “sexy [blank]” costume to

In the great holiday song war, Halloween is often seen as getting the short end of the candy corn-adorned stick. Sure, there are the standards—”Monster Mash,” “This is Halloween,” “Where Are U Now” (what’s more scary that admitting you like a Justin Bieber song?)—but the overwhelming consensus is that there are less songs about Halloween than there are songs that fit the Halloween vibe: we’re talking “Thriller,” “Ghostbusters,” “What Do You Mean” (seriously, they’re so catchy). With this possessing our minds, here are several songs that match the musical keywords “spooky” and “creepy,” but maybe not “pumpkins” and “skeletons.”

“(x) Amount of Truth” by Envy on the Coast

When I found out this month’s list would be Halloween-related, this song, with its sinister mood, was the first to come to mind. Right off the bat, “(x) Amount of Truth” starts with a creepy, disorienting array of noises, which slowly become one large mess of sound. As it continues, a vocal track layered with eerie harmonies kicks in. This over the minimalist instrumentation provides for a track that is simply chilling, not to mention the haunting lyrics (I mean, come on: the first line of the song is “Wake all the children from their slumber before they wonder why their dreams have gone to hell”). All of these in combination provide for the perfect, creepy Halloween theme. –Cheyenne Chao

“What’s He Building?” by Tom Waits

‘Twas a dark and stormy October Friday—“Cool Song Friday,” that is. My high school English teacher always introduced the class to a track that he thought would make us more cultured. Halloween was approaching, so this week he closed the blinds and turned out the lights. He played a tune that began with some eerie noises that you would expect to hear before the ax murderer appears in a scary movie. Then Waits speaks in a voice that sent chills down all of our spines. As if all of this were not creepy enough, the story he tells is just as disturbing. This is the perfect song to give your friends a spook… Just don’t play it around me. –Tori Davis

“The Rock” by Deer Tick

Words? Poetic. Music? Haunting—it comes in with these extremely twangy half notes. The intro alone could be the backing track to a thriller. Every note is another twist of a door knob, as the words repeat over and over the tension builds and builds. Then, without warning, it all halts and lets loose as you see the door swing open and the word “DON’T” pierces your ears. You jump from your seat and get twirled around as gloomy phrases are shuffled: “The heart beaten like a sinner / The sweat melting like a bad trip / The rock sits there dead… Come on, fellow goner / The glory days have passed.” The horns grow to a ghastly force dominating the track. They seem to be on mission as they pass by and fade, swiftly replaced by the oh-so-Halloween piano. –Emma Murphy

“Dream Scream” by Daniel Johnston

The more you think about someone, the stronger your perceived relationship is to them. While the verity of this phenomenon is debatable (Google “the more you think about someone the more you fall in love with them,” and you’ll find more memes than social studies), it seems to have some more reliable footing in music, from the standard “You’ll Never Know” (“You went away and my heart went with you”) to, like, every Weezer song (anthems like “Only in Dreams” and “El Scorcho,” which helped catchily usher the gross, unnerving friend zone archetype). The threads that tie these situations stitch a grave, bigger picture: the passion of fleeting connection can grow into a fear that it’s not reciprocated, which can lead to being haunted by what went wrong. It only seems fitting that troubled (referring to his mental state and indie community exploitation) cult icon Daniel Johnston successfully conveyed this terror in under five minutes. Chillingly positing the blame on both ends of the imagined relationship, “Dream Scream” offers us, among the unsettling piano vamp and infectious, warbled melody, a question: What is more frightening—finding out a love is unrequited, or living with the ghost of what love could’ve been? –Andy Waldron
Be sure to check out these songs and more seasonal picks over at WCPR’s official Spotify page.