(Pixabay photo)

(Pixabay photo)

Spoooky, scaaaary: The ultimate Halloween-in-quarantine playlist

All the costumes, trick-or-treating and spooky-season fun is essentialy off the table due to COVID-19

Welcome to the most genuinely unnerving Halloween week in memory.

All the costumes, trick-or-treating and spooky-season fun is essentialy off the table due to COVID-19. But the real terrors of a rampaging virus and a tense election (to say the least) are very present. Michael Myers himself would probably take one look around and head back into Laurie Strode’s closet to hide this one out.

If you’re stuck doing witchy incantations at home (or just pounding mulled cider until the morning of Nov. 4), The Los Angeles Times’ music team pulled together a playlist to keep the demons at bay, from nu-metal nightmares to grisly horrorcore hip-hop to Belarusian goth TikTok hits.

Backxwash, “Spells (feat. Devi McCallion)”

Zambian Canadian artist and 2020 Polaris Prize-winner Ashanti Mutinta, better known as Backxwash, beckons us to wade in the bog of her brain in the murky witch-hop of “Spells,” featuring sinister howls and spitfire verses by MC Devi McCallion. “I told my mama that the devil got a place for me,” McCallion rhymes, “I’m going to hell and I bet you I’ll be safe for weeks.” (Suzy Exposito)

Clipping, “Blood of the Fang”

Couched in horror-film language, the new left-field hip-hop track “Blood of the Fang” concerns America’s most curdling story — that of slavery, centuries-long oppression and the country’s “addiction to blood.” Name-checking Black activists and outlining the gnarled consequences of racism, Clipping’s Daveed Diggs promises to “digest the flesh of every wicked human / ‘Til the best and blackest blood is back to ruling.” (Randall Roberts)

The Cramps, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”

All good Halloween music should be a bit camp, and no one did spooky-cartoon-skeleton-dancing music better than the Cramps. “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” borrowed its title from a schlocky monster flick, but truth be told, we all feel like hairy hormonal monsters locked inside these days. (August Brown)

Miley Cyrus, “Zombie” (2020)

The Cranberries’ early-’90s pop-grunge classic is revived with scary precision by the onetime kiddie star whose career keeps refusing to die. (Mikael Wood)

Eagles, “Witchy Woman” (1972)

Inspired in part by various women he’d met at the Troubadour and the Whisky a Go Go, Don Henley’s first writing credit with the Eagles deploys a slinky-spooky soft-rock groove to summon the image of a lady with “raven hair and ruby lips” who can “rock you in the nighttime till your skin turns red.” (MW)

Gravediggaz, “Defective Trip (Trippin’)”

RZA’s horrorcore supergroup with Prince Paul, Frukwan and Poetic had one of the best album covers of ’90s rap for “6 feet Deep,” and this bleak descent into glue-sniffing insanity is one of its masterstrokes. Seething rats, crackheads, all-consuming flames: Horror movie or real-life for the poor in Giuliani-era NYC? (AB)

Halsey, “Nightmare”

“I won’t smile, but I’ll show you my teeth,” spits Halsey in her 2019 one-off track, “Nightmare.” A Top 40 chameleon-gone-torrid alt-rock bombshell, Halsey fires off scorching barbs about a particular kind of horror show: the patriarchy. “I’ve been polite, but I won’t be caught dead / Letting a man tell me what I should do in my bed.” (SE)

Handsome Family, “Poor, Poor Lenore”

Crooner Brett Sparks presents the opening couplet of this mournful 2000 country song as if he were a minister delivering a graveside eulogy: “Poor, poor Lenore carried off by crows / As she wandered alone where the red oaks grow.” With lyrics written by wife Rennie Sparks, “Poor, Poor Lenore” travels with the birds and our hero, “their beaks twisted in her hair,” as they fly Lenore “to the top of a dead tree where the heartbroken go.” Who stomped her heart? A gravedigger, of course, who “kissed so hard her mouth filled with blood / Then he left her to cry where the red oaks die.” (RR)

Ella Henderson, “Ghost (Oliver Nelson Remix)”

Haunted by the memory of her ex, this big-voiced “X Factor” flameout goes to the river to pray, only to come home and find the dude’s evil eyes still “sitting on the wall … watch(ing) every move I make.” (MW)

Lingua Ignota, “Wicked Game”

The SoCal-reared singer, composer and noise artist has an unlikely gift for a great cover. Her gutting of Chris Isaak’s misty pop hit has plenty of love for the original. But now it’s a barely recognizable goth-opera nightmare that samples “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Beautiful, gruesome — and both funny and unnerving once the chorus hits. (AB)

Post Malone feat. Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott, “Take What You Want” (2019)

Gloomy, power-ballad perfection from hip-hop’s streaming king and metal’s prince of darkness — oh, and Travis Scott, who turns up to bemoan the fact he can’t fit all his women in his tiny sports car. (MW)

Ministry, “(Every Day Is) Halloween”

Long before Al Jourgensen became the dreadlocked soldier of conservatives’ nightmares, he was a new-wave pretty boy who made a jailbreak from his contract with Arista Records in pursuit of gloomier pastures. In his 1984 single “(Every Day) Is Halloween,” Jourgensen rallies for those who remain spooky year-round: “I let their teeny minds think / That they’re dealing with someone who is over the brink / And I dress this way just to keep them at bay / Cause Halloween is everyday.” (SE)

Misfits, “Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight?”

If you have to ask, you know the answer. Of course you can’t, Glenn, but that’s never stopped you before. A 1982 song about getting bullied and muscling up both brains and body to seek vengeance, the Misfits’ classic Jersey punk song features this bit of creepy poeticism: “Killed a girl on Lovers’ Lane / I kept her toes and teeth / Every night I stalk around until I find my keep / I’ll bring back a souvenir / For it’s my mommy’s dream.” (RR)

Molchat Doma, “Sudno (Boris Ryzhy)”

Belarus post-punks Molchat Doma were virtually unheard of beyond Europe until their doom-laden 2017 track “Sudno (Boris Ryzhy)” took on a second life on TikTok. Hallmarked by eerie synths and late Soviet-era malaise, the song has soundtracked viral videos capturing Russian club kids and American hypebeasts alike — as well as a colony of hanging bats. The band’s upcoming album, “Monument,” is due out Nov. 13. (SE)

Rihanna, “Disturbia” (2008)

The wordless vocal hook is as anodyne as Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” But listen closely to the pre-chorus in this thumping, electro-pop song, in which Rihanna describes an experience with fear — itself “a thief in the night to come and grab you” — in language that’s downright chilling. (MW)

Salem, “Starfall”

Salem never got enough credit for how its depressed, drugged-up trap — which craved death and sub-bass alike — became a template for SoundCloud rap a decade later. Ten years after its LP “King Night,” the duo is back with “Fires in Heaven” and driving right into a tornado in the video for the single “Starfall.” (AB)

Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, “The Alien”

Go ahead, turn off all the lights in your apartment. Put on this soundtrack’s suite of slippery synth noises and unbearably tense drones from Alex Garland’s 2018 sci-fi horror flick about aliens, deformation and nature’s unknowable cruelty (here’s an excerpt of “The Alien,” its creepiest part). Wait for that four-note theme to hit. Then open the closet door and just imagine what’s waiting on the other side. (AB)

Scratch Acid, “Cannibal”

“Hey! You’re eating my heart!” barks Texas post-punk band Scratch Acid’s David Yow to open this song about being devoured alive. Yow, who went on to form the Jesus Lizard, possesses a yowl to die for and uses it to full effect as sharpened guitar tones stab in time. “Stop eating my brain!” (RR)

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Spellbound”

Siouxsie Sioux, the English godmother of Goth, let her inner sorceress run wild on the Banshees’ 1981 LP “Juju.” In opening track “Spellbound,” the prowling bass line gives way to a dizzying pursuit between the guitar and drums, and to a greater degree, the witch and her bewitched. “You hear laughter / Cracking through the walls,” hisses Siouxsie, “It sends you spinning / You have no choice.” (SE)

Slipknot, “My Plague”

A typically vivid threat of violence from Iowa’s masked metalheads — “I’ll reach in and take a bite out of that s — you call a heart” — that unexpectedly gets a jolt of pained post-emo melody. Figures that the plague is “you.” (MW)

The Specials, “Ghost Town”

Released during a devastating economic downturn that shuttered shops and clubs and saw the rise of white nationalism, the British ska band’s 1981 single is driven by a pit-in-the-stomach sense of dread. Organ chords straight out of a Lon Cheney-era monster flick creep along. A stuttering beat suggests a zombie limping down a desolate highway. “Can’t go on no more,” cries Terry Hall, as if fading to dust. (RR)

Three 6 Mafia, “Live by Yo Rep”

There are diss tracks meant to end careers, and then there’s Three 6’s “Live by Yo Rep,” a “Malleus Maleficarum” for Memphis rap. Here’s a sampling of the fates awaiting their nemeses in Bone Thugs N’ Harmony: “I want to slowly peel off all your skin / Get grease and boil it hot, pour it on you and your dead friends,” “Bodies sit in box chopped up in pieces / His soul done rose, I placed them tubes up under my mattress,” “Broke out the blender and I made some Krayzie gravy.” Later, Three 6 Mafia would go on to win a well deserved Academy Award for original song. (AB)

Tino Corp, “It’s Halloween Dub”

One of 16 spooky dub tracks on an album by San Francisco producer Ben Stokes under his early ’00s Tino moniker, this deep, breakbeat-driven instrumental features lots of wretched old samples. It’s taken from “Tino’s Breaks Vol. 6: Hallowe’en Dub,” a collection dense with howling, wailing, grunting noises that, combined with the mid-tempo rhythms, make it a seasonal dance-floor go-to. (RR)

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