Since many Halloween festivities will be on a forced hiatus this year, The Manitoban’s arts and culture team is bringing the party to you with some of our favourite spooky tunes. Whether you’re hosting a virtual get-together with friends or having a party for one, crank up the volume and enjoy the music.
“Voodoo Doll” — VIXX
Shaylyn Maharaj-Poliah, arts and culture editor
When thinking about Korean pop music, or K-pop, the song most likely to come to mind is PSY’s 2012 mega-hit, “Gangnam Style,” or the more recent English-language single “Dynamite” from supergroup, BTS.
Infectious beats, energetic dance routines and joyful lyrics are staples of the genre but, if you’re one of those naysayers who doubt K-pop’s versatility, then you are in for a rude awakening.
Back in 2013, K-pop idol group VIXX surprised fans with teaser videos for their first full album, Voodoo, and its title track, “Voodoo Doll.”
One of these videos was R-rated for body horror and gore. The beats were pulse-pounding and memorable, using scare chords and a ghostly chorus. When the full song was released, it didn’t disappoint. There’s a reason why VIXX is known as the “concept kings.”
The song starts out sinister with rapper Ravi’s deep, guttural growling, builds into the melody and ends with crisp falsettos from vocalists N, Leo and Ken. Hongbin’s rap parts, heavily distorted with autotune, sound like audio interference, similar to what would be heard through a spirit box used by paranormal investigators. The haunting refrain from the teaser was provided by none other than the youngest member, Hyuk.
You don’t need to understand Korean to understand that this is a seriously creepy song.
The choreography enhances the creep factor, from the members throwing Ken like a ragdoll to mimicking the torture endured by voodoo dolls, the group truly went all-in on this concept.
Perhaps too all-in, as the music video itself was rated R for graphic imagery, which meant that Hyuk, who was 18 at the time, was too young to watch his own music video.
This isn’t a trick — “Voodoo Doll” is a treat for the ears, whether you’re a K-pop fan or not.
“Black Cat 13” — Peach Kelli Pop
Zoë LeBrun, arts and culture reporter
The song that should be the next addition to all of your Halloween playlists is “Black Cat 13” by Peach Kelli Pop.
It lives up to its title, content-wise — the lyrics describe running into a black cat on Halloween night and all of the omens and superstitions this encounter imposes on its viewer. This leaves you with a song that has spooky themes but isn’t outright scary, making this song kid-friendly and, in general, good for those who don’t handle eerie sounds well — “Black Cat 13” is entertaining, dynamic and about a cat. What’s not to love?
You may be asking: Why else does this song deserve a place among your favourite Halloween songs? Not to put too fine a point on it, but “Black Cat 13” is simply a great song.
Off of the 2018 album Gentle Leader, this song is short, sweet and has the quintessential Peach Kelli Pop sound — best described as bubble-gum punk with a hint of Japanese pop. “Black Cat 13” offers a welcome change from the clichéd songs normally heard at this time of year but maintains the fun, Halloween vibes needed to get you through a night of trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving or socially distanced household celebrations.
This high-energy song, with its racing electric guitar and clashing percussion, is sure to ramp up your Halloween playlist.
“Halloween” — Siouxsie and the Banshees
Kaelen Bell, arts and culture reporter
With guitars that shriek like Bernard Herrmann’s legendary Psycho strings and lyrics that evoke the ancient terror lurking beneath our innocent trick-or-treat tradition, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Halloween” is the theatrical height of goth rock — perhaps the most intentionally sinister, squirming song on an album famously rife with dread.
One of the few songs on 1981’s landmark Juju with lyrics by bassist Steven Severin rather than frontwoman Siouxsie Sioux, “Halloween” overcomes its potential goofiness by sending the band swirling to its blackest pitch, a feverish dance of sickly noise and pummeling drums. It’s Sioux’s immense gravity and John McGeoch’s peerlessly unsettling guitar that make lyrics like “trick or treat, trick or treat/The bitter and the sweet” sound foreboding rather than silly.
Sioux flies over the arrangement like a witch above suburbia, rising and diving with her legendary cool — rock music’s patron saint of Halloween, giving us an anthem of genuine fear.
It’s not necessarily party playlist fodder, but if you’re looking to access some of the black magic at the heart of Halloween, consider pausing the “Monster Mash” and letting your subconscious go unchecked for three minutes and 37 seconds of cold sweats and panic. Suddenly, all those kids in costumes won’t seem quite so harmless.
Check out these bewitching songs on your preferred music streaming platform.