Top 10 remixes and covers of Halloween songs.

By Griffin Lyons

Official Hocus Pocus Facebook Page
(Official Hocus Pocus Facebook Page)
  1. Andrew Gold – “Spooky Scary Skeletons (RedManGhost Remix)”

The spot for very best remix goes to this inventive, extensive remix of the Andrew Gold classic. The layers of remixing gleefully embellish what’s fun about this classic from the musician’s 1996 Halloween-themed album of children’s songs, and adds a compelling beat to boot.

  1. Bette Midler – “I Put a Spell On You”

Variations on “I Put A Spell On You” appear twice in a row on this list, and for good reason. One of the highlights of the 1993 Disney movie “Hocus Pocus” is its trio of antagonists, the witchy Sarandon sisters. Midler, one of the witches, delivers this show-stopping rendition of “I Put A Spell On You” when the sisters crash a Halloween costume ball in Salem, Massachusetts. Midler’s rendition trades Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s spine-chilling vocals and slow, thudding rhythm for an up-tempo, big-band rendition that is half-showbiz revue, half-Motown and delightfully all-camp.

  1. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put A Spell On You (Jeremy Sole’s Zombie Stomp Remix)”

Jay Hawkins’s spine-tingling vocals on this almost supernatural song about heartbreak – legendarily recorded in a single drunken session in 1956 – and their accompanying brass instrumentation, are given a boost here with the help of some claps, an additional beat and a few other tweaks from Jeremy Sole, of the radio station KCRW, Southern California’s NPR affiliate.

  1. Moxy Früvous – “Psycho Killer (Live)”

What list of Halloween songs, remixed, covered or original, is complete without a nod to that staple of the late seventies through the nineties, the slasher film? This cover, by the now-defunct, one-of-a-kind Canadian band Moxy Früvous, is a spirited, wonderful take on the Talking Heads’ classic from their first album, infused perhaps with a Quebecois spin on the French of David Byrne’s lyrics.

  1. Marilyn Manson – “This is Halloween”

Recorded for a 2007 tribute to the soundtrack of the 1993 film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” – directed by Henry Selick and conceived by Tim Burton – there might not be a more appropriate artist to cover this song than Marilyn Manson, the shock rock musician and nightmare of media-sensitive parents everywhere in the 1990s. Manson’s cover has his characteristic affectations, yes, but his enthusiasm for the material shows through and makes them effective in the service of the cover.

  1. Beatfreakz – “Somebody’s Watching Me”

This cover of Rockwell’s 1984 hit is enjoyable for the sheer, unabashed cheesiness of its amped-up rhythm and shameless deployment of a kit of dance music tricks normally reserved for remixes. One ding on its ranking, though, is that it omits the comically paranoid verses of the original in favor of the chorus, as covered by a Dutch soundalike to Michael Jackson, who provided the backing vocals on the original.

  1. CHVRCHES – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

This cover of the 1979 Bauhaus hit, a seminal track in goth rock, infuses the song about Bela Lugosi – the man whose turn in the role of Dracula defined the public’s mental image of the fictional vampiric count – with an affecting, thudding beat and ringing, echoing instrumentation that adds even more atmosphere to the track, if that’s even possible.

  1. Masha – “Werewolves of London”

A cover of the late, great Warren Zevon, Masha’s cover here is airy and atmospheric, something a DJ with a mind towards variation could put on at the start or end of the night, or when they sensed a quiet moment in the proceedings. Slower and a little more wistful, Masha’s cover somehow preserves the energy of Zevon’s original.

  1. Ray Parker, Jr. – “Ghostbusters Theme (Ghost Grnder Heavy Dance Remix)”

This remix holds down the opening of the theme to the classic 1980s supernatural action-comedy and turns it into a slow build-up until the recognizable energy and tempo of the original explode outward with a dance beat and additional instrumentation.

  1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)”

The list ends with one of the more recent songs to make it onto Halloween playlists. The song’s bloody drama and its horror-spoofing, werewolf-filled music video have made it an attractive, tongue-in-cheek choice. This remix by A-Trak, Kanye West’s former tour DJ, turns it up to 11.

Griffin Lyons can be reached at [email protected].