[Creator Corner]

Halloween Music, Dead Air Style

While I understand the allure of online music playlist streaming services, personally I prefer listening to music knowing there’s a human at the other end. Someone shaping the listening experience in real-time. Tweaking segues,  overlapping sounds, matching tempos or contrasting them, blending themes, coloring the presentation with interstitial sound and talk, and even mistakes.

That’s what makes radio fun for me. Both to listen to, and to create.

Not just track/silence/track/silence/commercial/silence/repeat.

When picking the music for Dead Air, it has to pass at least a few of these criteria:

  • Is it spooky, creepy, or odd?
  • Is it amusing?
  • Does it make me feel nostalgic for Halloween?

If a track meets at least two of these requirements, I throw it in the mix, whether I like it personally or not (unless it’s angry screaming death metal or surf guitars, which to me, are not scary, but ridiculous).

Even if it meets ALL the points, however, some songs get pulled after a few plays. I easily spend as much time removing songs from my active playlist as I do adding new ones. Sometimes, you don’t realize a track doesn’t work until you hear it in the mix.

Here are some of my personal favorites in the current Dead Air library, in no particular order…

Giselle Bellas – I Dream of Little Monsters

At least that’s what I call it. It’s an untitled track from one of last season’s “Louie” shows on FX. Haunting vintage feel, bizarre lyrics. I had to make a “radio edit” for the version I play. I try to keep it family-friendly, try.

Rob Cantor – Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf

Viral speak-sung hit from a few years back. The Shia threat is unresolved.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross – Halloween Spooks

Been a #1 favorite in my house for years, mainly because I play it on repeat during pumpkin carving and annoy my kids by singing along with the chickenwitch sounds, ghostly gargling, and spirit scatting.

Prairie Ramblers – Ghost in the Graveyard

An early twentieth century singing-around-the-campfire kind of song. I have no idea how he did that voice without falling into a coughing fit.

Eddie Noack – Psycho

I love this song so much; my friend Rob gave me the Jack Kittel version of it, which I play all year long. This version, however, I reserve for Halloween. The tempo changes are off-putting and every time he says: “Mama”… so do I, out loud; now you will, too. You are powerless to resist. Mama.

Betty Hutton – Old Man Mose

A front-runner for being my all-time favorite. There are many versions of Ol’ Mose in my library, but Betty does it best. That forceful voice, that screaming, that period sound, so perfect.

Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra – The House is Haunted

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a penchant for vintage Halloween tunes. I picture this one playing in the distance somewhere on an old Victrola in a dusty abandoned house. But which room?

Barnes and Barnes – Cemetery Girls

This is a holdover from my childhood, listening to Dr. Demento in the dark. I refuse to get rid of it. Do not ask me to.

Tracy Morgan and Donald Glover – Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

I first heard a tiny clip of this as a quick cut scene gag while watching 30 Rock. I thought, “Ah, man. I wish that was a real song.” Imagine my joy to find it was. Perfect modern interpretation of the 1960s Halloween novelty song tsunami. Never forget.

Thurl Ravenscroft – Children’s Day at the Morgue

That classic baritone Grim Grinning Ghosts voice.

Leslie Fish – Carmen Miranda’s Ghost

A folksy, sci-fi, paranormal, juggernaut. All boxes checked.

Pine Valley Cosmonauts with Puerto Muerto – The Hangman’s Song

Been playing this for a few years, but this year it really struck me. Not REALLY a Hangman’s Song, more of a guy-waiting-to-be-hung song.

Evariste – Connais tu l animal qui inventa le calcul integral

Do you know the beast that discovered integral calculus? I hear he’s some french dude that speaks broken English and has a split-personality.

Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers – Conduit

A bluesy, clarinet fever dream screamed thru a bullhorn.

Key of Awesome – Modern Monster Mash

You know, Bobby “Boris” Pickett really should have been more appalled by the behavior of his guests. Luckily, this modern reinterpretation doesn’t put up with that crap.

Iggy Pop – Monster Men (Les Zinzins De L Espace)

When I first heard this, I thought it could easily be an Iggy Pop song. Man, did I feel stupid.

The Tiger Lillies – Living Hell

Vintage-sounding falsetto cabaret music in greasepaint mimeface. There is nothing about this that doesn’t terrify me.

— Clay Roe
Dead Air, 98point3FM

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