Let’s face it: we all love "Monster Mash." Every so often, however, some variety is welcome. To combat the typical novelty songs of fall, here is a playlist of eerie songs to carry with you not only throughout Halloweekend, but also the entire melancholy season that leads up to winter.
Track 1) Camille Saint–Saëns: "Danse macabre in G Minor, Op. 40"
This 1874 Saint–Saëns piece is a tone poem based upon the French allegory of the Dance of Death from the Late Middle Ages. Originally an art song for voice and piano, Saint–Saëns expanded the piece into its orchestral version and replaced the vocal line with a distinctive violin part. In every performance, the solo violin is tuned to the devil’s interval, diabolus in musica. Infusing the piece with a sense of unsettling ambiguity, "the devil’s interval," more commonly known as the tritone, builds an eerie tension throughout the dance, and (according to legend) resulted in the automatic excommunication and damnation of any musician who dared play it during the Renaissance.
Track 3) The Flamingos: "I Only Have Eyes for You"
Though the song was originally written in 1934 by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and covered by a variety of artists, The Flamingos' cover of “I Only Have Eyes for You” is not only the definitive version, but also unique in its melancholia. Instead of the traditional romance, this version is elegant yet foreboding. “I Only Have Eyes for You” is not creepy in the sense of ghouls, goblins, and the fake spiderwebs that cover the eaves of jack–o–lantern–illuminated houses on Halloween night, but in its methodologically meandering and swinging beats. The song effuses the eerie sense of being surrounded by decadence while feeling like you are completely and utterly alone.
Track 5) Rezz: "Relax"
With its repetitive synth lines and soothing reminders to submit to the pleasures of hypnosis, “Relax” is the first track on Rezz's 2017 album, Mass Manipulation. In a preparatory act for the rest of the album, the song is an ode to the hedonistic relaxation found in the release of all inhibitions. In a manner frightening to any college student trying to micromanage their future, the song highlights and encourages the enticing indulgence of a complete loss of control.
Track 9) Grant Olding: "Lullaby"
Led by Game of Thrones alum Gwendoline Christie, the 2019 Bridge Theatre production offered a dark, trippy, and immersive version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Underlying the applauded production was composer Grant Olding’s soundtrack, which featured “Lullaby.” Amid the lyrics taken straight from Shakespeare’s poetry, Olding’s lullaby is filled with weaving bell–like melodies and wild harmonies that give the piece a foreboding sense of tantalizing dread.
Track 11) Gelsey Bell: "This Is Not a Land of Kings"
“Preserve. Protect. Defend.” The three words of the pulsating chorus of Gelsey Bell’s single remind us of the duty we have in a chaotic world. The a cappella track, featuring artists Grace McLean and Amber Gray, premiered in February 2017 at a cabaret in a New York basement—in the wake of the US presidential inauguration—and meditates on the desire to stand up for our beliefs. Though the message of the song should fill us with a sense of hope, the lack of instrumental support and echoey harmonies fill listeners with a sense of panicky isolation.
Track 15) Rebecca Roubion: "Don’t Know Who I Am"
Though its twinkling piano lines and fun finger snaps may seem whimsically upbeat, the lyrics of “Don’t Know Who I Am,” feel like when you repeatedly vow that “it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay,” when you know it definitely will not. With both its superficial veneer of optimism and existential stress embedded throughout the lyrics, Rebecca Roubion makes every last hair on the back of your neck stand up dead straight.