There’s nothing like rocking out to your favorite Halloween tunes to really get you in the spirit this time of year. Unfortunately to those of us who get as much a kick out of the visual appeal of watching a music video as we do to listening to the song, many of our seasonal favorites fail to deliver in bringing the costumes and overall autumnal bliss to the screen. Still others—notably non-singles and songs preceding 1980—have no music video at all. Meanwhile, songs that have little or nothing to do with Halloween are filled to the brim with cobwebs, cemetery-things, and just overall creepiness. Here are 15 music videos sure to get you ready for your Halloweekend.
15. “Back 2 Good” — Matchbox 20
The guys of Matchbox 20 are no strangers to incorporating interesting (and often odd) imagery in their music videos. (Remember the “Unwell” video with the giant green bear?) Here we’ve got people in devil and angel costumes, and as a couple who once adorned such attire on Halloween, this video is packed with nostalgia for us. Not only is it one of our favorites of the 90s, but the beautiful display of costumes—set in a backdrop that has a very New Orleans feel to it—just make these Halloween lovers beam with joy. You know, aside from the fact that the lyrics are actually rather sad. It is precisely the deep and meaningful nature of the song that only makes us that much more enthusiastic to kick off our countdown with it.
14. “What If” — Creed
Speaking of deep and meaningful, this song isn’t that. This one’s just for fun. Featuring David Arquette as Dewey from the Scream franchise, this video even has Ghostface himself—the official icon of Halloween—in the flesh, chasing and trying to stab into others’ flesh. The song is from the Scream 3 soundtrack, so listen closely during the film’s opening sequence the next time you decide to give it a watch. Enjoy this Scream themed music video, and bonus points if you can count how many times Frontman Scott Stapp’s shirt buttons and unbuttons between shots.
13. “Disturbia” — Rihanna
This 2008 hit is just as creepy as it is catchy, set in an ominous torture chamber of sorts complete with live tarantulas. We are left both in awe and confused trying to decide if everything from the contortions to the contact lenses is awesome or just plain weird. Weirdly awesome, maybe? There’s even choreography that reminds us of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, so it’s more than safe to say this song is perfect for Halloween. Rihanna definitely gets props here for not only allowing these gargantuan spiders to crawl on her, but for co-directing the music video as well. These 4 minutes and 22 seconds are proof that Rihanna is the whole package—beautiful, talented, and incredibly freaky.
12. “Soul to Squeeze” — Red Hot Chili Peppers
This beautiful and equally dark melodic track was not initially featured on the band’s 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but became a hit a couple years later when it was released as a single and part of the soundtrack of the 1993 film Coneheads. The music video is certainly worthy of some Halloween praise, with the traveling circus setting giving off a somber, eerie vibe similar to that of American Horror Story: Freak Show as well as Rob Zombie’s newest film, 31. The clowns and other members of the circus make their way through the black and white landscape, a perfect supplement to the ethereal slide guitar riffs, as Anthony Kiedis—with a medusa-like head of snakes—recites the profoundly surreal lyrics. Plus it features legendary comedian Chris Farley. Enough said. After watching this video you will likely feel the urge to cry…or feel the urge to rewatch season 4 of AHS.
11. “Gimme Something Good” — Ryan Adams
It goes without saying that the artist who brought us “Halloweenhead” is guaranteed a place on our countdown. While that still remains our seasonal favorite, this song from Adam’s 2014 self-titled album holds its own, with the music video capturing the spirit of Halloween perfectly. Spooky castle…dark, grainy imagery…oh yeah, and Elvira. That’s right, the Mistress of the Dark herself is present throughout the video. Of course, Halloweenheads such as ourselves are thrilled to see her make an appearance, but considering the song was only released two years ago, we can’t help but wonder if Elvira really is a vampire. The woman just does not age! Whatever her secret is, I hope they let the rest of us in on it soon.
10. “The Kill (Bury Me)” — 30 Seconds to Mars
If you ever find yourself with the desire to rewatch The Shining but don’t have two hours and forty minutes, just give this music video a watch. This 2006 hit is a great homage to the Stanley Kubrick classic, complete with the spooky hotel setting and eerily familiar characters. We expect this sense of macabre when it comes from the brilliant and twisted mind of Stephen King, but who knew these guys had it in them? Jared Leto directed this long before he delved into the convoluted mind of The Joker. We are beginning to sense a recurring theme here—Urban Legend, American Psycho, Panic Room, Requiem For a Dream (although not technically a horror film, arguably one of most disturbing movies out there)—so it’s obvious the man is a fan of the genre, and we can’t wait to see what sinister concoction he cooks up next.
9. “Monster” — Kanye West (f. Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj)
The title says it all, and the fact that the music video was initially banned from MTV for being too scary says even more. Dead bodies, fangs, and gore galore decorate this collaborative 2009 hit. The horror elements are apparent in the clever lyrics, and the video doesn’t disappoint in following through visually, depicting some legitimately frightening images and lots and lots of blood. Nicki Minaj in particular kills here so to speak as she plays two different roles as both the torturer and torturee. This one is certain to get you in the Halloween spirit, and it wouldn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the words so when it comes time for Halloween karaoke you can really knock em dead!
8. “Bones” and “Mr. Brightside” — The Killers
Clearly The Killers deserve a spot on the list, because, well, they are called The Killers after all. Their name isn’t the only reason we couldn’t settle on just one video from these guys. The 2006 song “Bones” is a clear contender; the music video—featuring clips from classic horror films and skeletons frolicking on the beach—is even directed by Tim Burton, who as we know is no stranger to our favorite holiday.
Although that video alone is enough to get anyone in the seasonal spirit, we felt compelled to remind everyone of the nostalgic force that is “Mr. Brightside.” Even those who aren’t fans of The Killers remember this song dominating every radio station back in 2004. And while the video is based on the film Moulin Rouge!, the colorful costumes and autumnal atmosphere bring us right to Halloween. So, whether you think it’s appropriate for the season or not, you can thank us for getting this song stuck in your head once again.
7. “Born This Way” — Lady Gaga
If you’re looking for a ridiculously creepy—not to mention long—intro, look no further (or do yourself a favor and skip to the 2:30 mark). This video deserves a high ranking for—like many songs on our list—having nothing to do with Halloween lyrically, but finding a way to incorporate some spooky elements into the video. How can you go wrong with Lady Gaga dressed as a skeleton? As Halloween enthusiasts we appreciate when a video is fun and upbeat, and this song succeeds tremendously in that regard. It’s impossible not to feel happy and empowered when listening to this positive anthem, so we challenge you to watch it without feeling the urge to just dance.
6. “I Miss You” — blink-182
The spooky, ethereal setting in a foggy cemetery accompanied by strange creatures is reason enough for this beautiful melody to get a spot on our list. The lyrics are filled with dark and provoking imagery quite fitting for this time of year. There’s even a direct shout out to Tim Burton’s classic A Nightmare Before Christmas: “We can live like Jack and Sally if we want, where you can always find me, and we’ll have Halloween on Christmas…” The equally disturbing and enchanting visuals go along with the bewitching lyrics perfectly. We predict this mystical and lovely track will remain a seasonal staple for many Halloweens to come.
5. “Living Dead Girl” — Rob Zombie
It should come as no surprise that the king of Halloween deserves a spot at the top of our list. Zombie loves Halloween so much, he and then fiancé Sheri Moon even selected Halloween as the date for their nuptials. Rob’s interest in Halloween as well as directing is apparent—unlike many music videos that merely serve as a backdrop to the song’s lyrics, in “Living Dead Girl” it seems as if some form of narrative is followed and a story is being told. There’s references to horror left and right here, notably the hat tip to legendary filmmaker Wes Craven, with the beginning of the song featuring music from the trailer to The Last House on the Left. We love the old-fashioned, grainy, silent-film feel to this video, and Sheri Moon as The Living Dead Girl is just dynamite. Those of you still deciding on a last minute costume should take serious consideration of this, or at least make a note for next year.
4. “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” — Backstreet Boys
This serves as yet another example of a song that, lyrically, has nothing to do with Halloween, while the music video is absolutely dripping in it. For that, we award the BSB a very high spot on our list. Growing up in the nineties, I am not ashamed to say I pretty much played this album on loop, so when the video came out and the Halloween tropes were practically oozing from the screen, I was nothing short of ecstatic. The fact that the song and the Backstreets themselves were showcased in the 2013 film This is the End proved to the world just how iconic this song is. Even those dead set on not giving boy bands any props should make an exception here. The Backstreets must love Halloween, because the entire concept of the video was their idea, even when the label didn’t approve—fearing anything other than overly sexualized close-ups in the pouring rain was the wrong way to go. The B-boys didn’t let this stop them, fighting for the Halloween theme tooth and nail and even putting up their own money for the video. So step out of your denial that this video rocks, and step onto the dance floor as you “throw your hands up in the air, then wave ’em around like you just don’t care…”
3. “Monster Mash” — Bobby Pickett
Gotta give this oldie a shout out, and, luckily for us, it is one of the few classics that gives us something other than an album cover to look at. The Groovie Goolies animation serves as an adorable little backdrop, but chances are the second you hear the cauldron boiling and that beat start to kick in, you won’t be spending too much time watching the video. As you feel the Halloween fire in you ignite, it won’t be long before you’ll dance your way back to childhood in this delightful melody. We only wish more classic Halloween songs had a visual counterpart as good as this, so we call upon any future filmmakers out there to accept such a challenge, and maybe next Halloween we can add some more classics to our list.
2. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — Marilyn Manson
No, there aren’t exactly dancing jack-o-lanterns in this video, but this song is more than deserving of its number 2 spot on our countdown. It even beats out Marilyn Manson’s cover to This is Halloween as well as other successful hits with equally creepy videos such as The Beautiful People. Manson’s cover to the original 1983 song by the British group Eurythmics is genius, with those initial ominous guitar notes acting as a foreboding warning while simultaneously sucking you in against your will. The song is also featured in the 2007 movie Trick ‘r Treat, taking a pivotal moment of the film and making it iconic. Needless to say, it is a staple for every Halloween playlist, and has been deemed by many as one of the scariest videos of all time.
1. “Thriller” — Michael Jackson
For those of you expecting a plot twist, we are sorry to say…there isn’t one. We chose the best and most satisfying ending, even if it is a predictable one, because nothing is more deserving of the title of Ultimate Halloween Music Video than “Thriller.” There’s a reason the King of Pop’s video tops every list—at over thirteen minutes long and more of a mini horror film than just a music video, it broke new ground and paved the way for the future of music videos, and rightfully nothing else—no matter how bewitchingly horror-ific—can even compare. The costumes and choreography are legendary, and this video will stand the test of time as generation after generation attempts to emulate that famous dance number. So, you can dress like it, you can dance to it, you can imitate it or be inspired by it…but you definitely can’t beat it.
What are your favorite Halloween and horror-themed music videos? Share your favorites with us below!
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