Halloween has irregular aesthetics. Every year, we find ourselves at the crossroads of pumpkin pancakes and emulating the mannerisms of the “Hocus Pocus” witches for a week. But that’s not a bad thing. Halloween is up for individual interpretation — making it one of our most cherished fabricated customs. You can perform Halloween with a movie, with decorations, with storytelling, with cookies — with just about anything else you could imagine — within the unspoken pseudo-supernatural guidelines, of course. You can also, believe it or not, perform Halloween with music — and with Halloween up against a global pandemic, this performance might be the safest bet. Let these entirely Halloween-unaffiliated songs get you in the mood for our favorite time of the year.
“Cold” by The Cure
The Cure’s Robert Smith is undeniably the human embodiment of Halloween — our shared dimension’s ghoulish, emo-humanoid. While there are dozens of Halloween-adjacent anthems from The Cure, there’s no track more viscerally spine-chilling in their discography than “Cold.” A hellish, infernal organ pulses through the frozen heart of the song, mingling with serene, saintly synthesizers — the sound of a deity’s last breath. “Cold” sounds like skateboarding through a post-apocalyptic, empty city during a blood-red sunset — street lights awaiting your command. Yeah, it’s cool, and yeah, it’s pretty — but you’re alone. No optimistic icing on the top of this cacophony-cake — this song sounds like the end of the world, a secular day of reckoning. At least this end of times sounds like sweet, sweet release.
“Scenario” by Pop Smoke
Victor Frankenstein’s monster didn’t have a good go at life — he was rejected by his creator, blamed for his creator’s misery, was visually appalling and was ultimately outcast into permanent social exile. Certainly not an ideal existence. But at the very, very least, the monster was lucky enough to indulge in one beautiful, uniquely human creation — books. He wasn’t, however, fortunate enough to find music — and everyone in Geneva can thank their lucky stars that he didn’t find any AirPods lying on the ground. Imagine the monster popping in his Airpods, zipping up his Nike Tech Fleece, and stumbling upon Pop Smoke classics like “Invincible,” “Welcome to the Party,” or — most dangerously — “Scenario.” In these circumstances, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” would not have been a book of hotly contested moral deliberations. Frankenstein’s monster would’ve redefined “rampage.” 808 Melo’s viciously vile beat, combined with Pop’s back-from-the-dead growl deserves its own pop culture lore. May he rest in peace.
“Errare Humanum Est” by Jorge Ben Jor
“Errare Humanum Est” would be the perfect haunted house soundtrack. But not your typical cookie-cutter, jump-scare-type haunted house. Instead, it belongs in more of an A24-realm — a modern-age, psycho-dissociative, reality-dissolving haunted house. That kind. Throughout the song, Jorge Ben Jor’s galactic groans slowly slither through the aural cosmos, making for some smoky, alchemistic astral projections. Supported by spacey strings, creepy-crawling basslines and echoing children’s choirs, “Errare Humanum Est” propagates an alluring tractor beam of menacing, yet marvelous “Midsommar” madness. A tractor beam that would surely make our imaginary haunted house-goers lose their reality-grounding marbles. It’s a tractor beam listeners will get drawn into, over and over again.
“GLASS” by Yukihiro Takahashi
This song sounds like a train robbery. Although train robbery has nothing to do with Halloween, everything about this song sounds diabolically conniving, oozing a mischievous energy of malevolent scheming. Like a train robbery, and equally, like Halloween. Yellow Magic Orchestra’s cult-famous Yukihiro Takahashi crafts the first 20 seconds alone into a cinematic masterpiece, pitting war between antagonistic synthesizers and heroic, jazzy bass riffs. When the inevitable Halloween-train-robbery blockbuster movie eventually comes out, let “GLASS” soundtrack the opening credits.
“Aeroplane” by Jessica Pratt
It’s pretty safe to say that Halloween will not be the same this year — unless everyone agrees that restricting a door-to-door pandemic-production-line undermines our civil liberties and freedoms. Geez. Regardless, hopefully next Saturday night will provide for an unsettling, sinister silence. “Aeroplane,” with its wistful, tundra-esque textures, slots frigidly into that quiet moment of rumination. Let Jessica Pratt’s airy, ominous, emo-country-cobweb-carol “Aeroplane” soundtrack your dystopian Hallow’s Eve nighttime stroll through your neighborhood — guided by those same feet that transported your innocence from door to door some years ago, claiming your saccharine tokens of unbridled bliss, a subsequent flurry of grubby fingers in exchange. A quiet sign of who we were, and who we are to become.