Jennifer Bartlett of the haunting Grand Rapids rock band Lokella lives and breathes Halloween. So, Local Spins asked her to curate what could be the creepiest Halloween playlist ever. Really.
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY, ALONG A PHOTO GALLERY FROM BELL’S BREWERY WEEKEND HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST WITH SEXY TOXINS, AMARANTH AND PAJARO NEGRO
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For many people, Halloween is one night of devilish dancing, frivolous costumes, candy galore, scary ghost stories and (here in Michigan) cold, damp misery.
For some, it’s an excuse to show their secret wild side, expressing hidden fears and fantasies in ways that are normally deemed inappropriate in any other circumstance.
For a few of us, however, Halloween is not just a creepy weekend fling: It’s a flame, undying. It’s a deeply embedded connection to all things unseen, unknown and rejected.
Sometimes I feel like I am Halloween and Halloween is me. I don’t have a jack-o’-lantern tattooed on my right hand and a skull on my left for nothing. Take it from me, a self-proclaimed pumpkin queen: every other holiday is trash.
To help you celebrate, I’ve crafted a list of 10 of my favorite enigmatic tracks in no particular order (and a little bonus because this isn’t just a phase, mom. It’s a lifestyle.)
JENNIFER BARTLETT’S HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST
1. “Digital Bath,” Deftones – In one of the most mysterious songs that my ears have had the pleasure of ingesting, something about this tune is so seductively entrancing. Rumor has it that vocalist Chino Moreno wrote the lyrics about an indulgent fantasy he had. In these visions, he leads a woman to a bath, suddenly tosses in an electrical device to electrocute her and then pulls her out to dry her off and redress her. Perhaps the context is not quite that sexy but it is unabashedly creepy.
2. “Halloween,” AFI – For those who are not familiar with this crew, A Fire Inside is made up of four unearthly fall children. Sure, this particular song is a cover originally written and performed by legendary American punk band The Misfits but AFI was the first to sink their fangs deep into my gloomy heart. As I’ve continued to imagine myself as vocalist Davey Havok since the early days of my teens, I am delighted to reveal that every AFI song is a Halloween song in my eyes.
3. “Kill Of The Night,” Gin Wigmore – If Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, it is best advised to avoid any woman who struts in a room with a calm, sultry and subtle violence. With lyrics like “I want to taste the way that you bleed,” Wigmore is the perfect example of the danger in this provocative number. Listen with caution: You never know what kind of trance this song may put you under.
4. “The In-Between,” In This Moment – Much like many of this metal band’s songs, the music videos lend stunning, dark theatrical visuals inviting the listener into their own version of the underworld that is simultaneously terrifying and beguiling. The song is flawlessly suited as a gothic, ethereal soundtrack for this cinematic display of religious symbolism and demonic ritual.
5. “Living Dead Girl,” Rob Zombie – The king of Halloween may be notably Jack Skellington, but it’s clear that Rob Zombie was the first to grace the bone throne. Industrial metal at its core, the electric pulse, grinding guitars and growly vocals directly feed dripping mouths thirsting for horror movies with lavishly-tacky brutality.
6. “Bleed For You,” LOKELLA – Look, I can’t be a musician who is both obsessed with music videos AND Halloween and not include one of my own proud pieces. While this song may not have been originally written with fangs in mind, it would have felt criminal not to create a spoof of the popular mockumentary “What We Do In The Shadows” to give this tale of manipulation, betrayal, abuse and revenge a silly, sinister twist. If that isn’t enough, the limelight is stolen by two blood-lusting fluffers: my own little vampy pomeranians. Woof.
7. “Bad Things,” Jace Everette – Completely glamored by vampires and enchanted by the deep south of Louisiana, my relationship with HBO’s romantically foreboding horror series “True Blood” remains a special one. Each episode began with this menacing country-rock song, cementing in my brain the memory of all things seductively ghoulish making Gothic Americana the only country music for me.
8. “Feral Love,” Chelsea Wolfe – “Your eyes black like an animal / crossing the water / lead them to die.” The lyrics of this post-punk, industrial flavored goth-folk song are simple yet soul-crushing. The immediate feeling upon first listen is impending doom and the corresponding video makes every aspect of this work of art feel authentically wicked. Wolfe’s vocals are celestial and elegant against instrumentals that create tension, depth and cryptic imagery. In just three minutes and forty-eight seconds, “Feral Love” is an intense tiny sci-fi soundtrack that will leave your skin crawling. The video is an absolute must.
9. “Closer,” Nine Inch Nails – Everything that Trent Reznor touches turns supernatural and this classic is truly like none other. It goes without saying, but I’ll shout it louder for those in the back: This abstract industrial monster of a song is one of the most iconic, controversial, arousing, crude and tantalizing pieces to come out of modern music. What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing and everything all the same.
10. “This Is Halloween,” Danny Elfman – Halloween Town will always be known as one of the most recognized fantasy worlds to come from the mastermind that is Tim Burton in the wonderfully dark and imaginative “Nightmare Before Christmas.” There isn’t much to say about it that most of us don’t already know: This movie and soundtrack will live on in families for many years to come as a staple for our favorite spooky season.
11. (BONUS PICK) “I Put A Spell On You,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – It’s a screamin’ SHAME if any rendition of this song doesn’t make any list of favorite Halloween songs. While each version holds a beauty of its own, Hawkins’ unpredictability, wildly cunning personality and insane vocals could never be reproduced or mimicked. A showman of the decades – humor and freakish theatrics makes this man a behemoth in the field of creeps and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: These obvious songs are likely to make everyone’s list, but I couldn’t leave them out entirely: “Witchy Woman,” The Eagles, “Monster Mash,” Bobby Pickett, “Thriller,” Michael Jackson
JENNIFER BARTLETT’S HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY
PHOTO GALLERY: Halloween Costume Contest at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe
Sexy Toxin, Amaranth, Pajaro Negro
Photos by Derek Ketchum