Do you have a YouTube playlist you connect via Chromecast or aux line-in to the television or stereo every year at Halloween?
Is Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt Kickers’ “Monster Mash” on it? If so, you’re not the only one. Every year, Pickett’s deathless (sorry) hit shambles out of the grave to haunt playlists the world over.
But “Mash” doesn’t stream alone. Sure, it’s the most popular Halloween song on YouTube by a considerable factor, but it’s hardly the only song to get the Halloween bump. YouTube has helpfully provided us with a list of songs whose views and searches spike high above their regular amount every year around Hallow’s Eve. Below, we present the most popular Halloween songs online, ranked by how much of a boost they get each Halloween.
“The Monster Mash”
Unsurprisingly, this song is searched for nearly 41 times more on average around Halloween. That figure actually peaked in 2013, when it was searched for almost 53 times more than on average. Guess 2013 was particularly spooky.
“This Is Halloween”
As far as an opening number for a combination movie about Halloween and Christmas starring a skeleton man and his stitched-together lady love goes, “This Is Halloween” has surprising staying power, though it lags far behind “Monster Mash” in terms of a sheer increase, averaging only 17 times the search volume around the time of year that bears its name. It’s also the only song that appears on this list twice, though more on that later.
The weirdest thing about this song is that it appears to actually be titled “Ghostbusters (Searchin’ for the Spirit),” despite the fact that that phrase appears nowhere in the song’s lyrics. (A cursory look at the song’s lyrics does, however, reveal the phrase “bustin’ makes me feel good,” which the less I address the better — in fact, I’ve already said too much.) Anyway, searches for Ray Parker Jr.’s classic jump up nearly 16 times their regular amount every Halloween.
Less a song than a pop culture phenomenon, what’s most striking about “Thriller” in 2016 is just how weird it is in the larger context of the album Thriller and Michael Jackson songs in general. This was the seventh Top 10-single off the album, and … it’s about scary stuff. It’s not about relationships, it doesn’t have a “social theme” like “Beat It” (a song about how gang violence is bad) and it’s preceded by “The Girl Is Mine,” maybe the most blandly saccharine entry in Jackson’s discography. And then there’s “Thriller,” just about spooky stuff like aliens and killers and monsters with 40 eyes. Michael Jackson was incredible, that’s the lesson here.
“This Is Halloween” (Marilyn Manson cover)
Ugh. Hard pass. From the ill-advised Nightmare Before Christmas covers album Nightmare Revisited, it is rivaled only in its grimacing lack of subtlety by Korn’s version of “Kidnap the Sandy Claws,” which is a thing that even typing about causes the hackles on my neck to rise. Danny Elfman, Tim Burton: You guys can’t have possibly needed the money this badly.
“Dem Bones” was written by James Weldon Johnson and first recorded in 1928 by Bascomb Lunsford. It’s a spiritual song, but the fact that it mentions bones is enough to get people to search for it seven times more than usual each Halloween.
This is the guy who created the Chipmunks. Before he foisted that bunch of helium-voiced terrors on the nation, he provided us with this pleasing novelty hit, which gets a nearly 7x lift every Halloween.
People are unoriginal. Nothing about this song is remotely scary. In this cover version, Dusty Springfield sings that she’s going to propose on Halloween, and I have to assume that’s why people search for it more on Halloween. It actually started life as an instrumental by Ron Hirsch (or saxophonist Mike Sharpe, there’s been some dispute about who wrote the thing), so the lyrics were a total afterthought. When you hear it as a smooth jazz song, it’s considerably less spooky.
Rob Zombie was able to ride the weird wave of 1990s alternative to a perfectly serviceable career as the heir apparent to Alice Cooper — i.e. Marilyn Manson, but with a campy sense of humor replacing the trumped-up shock imagery. Then he started making gratuitously violent movies that for some reason all feature a rape scene, so I’m going to have us all watch this 82-year-old man singing “Dragula” instead of Zombie. (Rob, you ruined Halloween. Twice.)
“Toccata Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565”
Please enjoy the first minute or so of this ’80s-era commercial for the SynthAxe, a bizarre guitar-shaped MIDI controller partially funded by Richard Branson, in which someone is playing the Bach piece people commonly refer to as “the Phantom of the Opera song.” The SynthAxe is a hilarious example of musical and industrial hubris merged: It was made out of aerospace and military-grade hardware, meaning it was originally priced at $13,000, before the price was lowered to a more reasonable $6,000. Its most prominent user was jazz fusion guitar acrobat Allan Holdsworth, who’s mostly idolized by the kind of guitarist with entirely too many Guitar Worlds piled up in a corner of his room.
“Tiptoe Through the Tulips”
Here is a bizarre fact that is entirely true, because this information came to us directly from YouTube: “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” is searched for almost three times as much on Halloween as it is during the rest of the year. I have no explanation for this. I would chalk it up to Cherry Glazerr’s cover that was featured in the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 3 in 2014 EXCEPT for the fact that the song actually declined in search volume the year the cover came out, climbing back up to 2.67 times more than average in 2015. Someone please explain this to me.
“Calling All the Monsters”
“Thriller” for people who are too young to remember “Thriller” or aren’t appreciative of “Thriller” because of personality defects. Spikes 2.5 times in search volume on Halloween.
“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”
This is an honorable mention, because it actually doesn’t appear on the list YouTube furnished us with, but it should. For shame, all of you.