Monday, October 6, 2014

Funkiest Halloween Songs

Halloween is looming, so it’s about that time to get your monster groove on to some frighteningly funky tracks.  So without further ado, here are my 22 funkiest Halloween tracks. Let’s BOOgie!

22) Everyday Is Halloween– Ministry (1984)

This fantastic electronic track is about the Goth subculture and how every day is like Halloween in this environment. Influential industrial metal band Ministry's founder and creative mastermind Al Jourgensen penned the song. He effectively sampled James Brown’s intro scream from the hit song “Get Up Offa That Thing.”

Every Day Is Halloween at Amazon

21) Frankenstein – The Edgar Winter Group (1973)

The Edgar Winter Group topped the pop charts with this ferocious rock instrumental in 1973. This track has the distinction of being the first hit song to have a synthesizer as the lead instrument. Although this is primarily a rock song, there are some dashes of funk sprinkled throughout.  Apparently world-renowned bassist Marcus Miller caught those funky bits as well. He performed a live cover of the song, which really stressed the funky parts. The track is from the band’s multiplatinum-selling They Only Come Out at Night (1972).

Frankenstein at Amazon

20) The Boogie Monster–  Gnarls Barkley (2006) 

Talented twosome Cee Lo Green and Danger Mouse get into the Halloween spirit on this creepy, baleful track. The ominous tune will have you looking under your bed and checking your closet before hitting the hay. The track is from Gnarls Barkley's Grammy-winning debut album St. Elsewhere, released in 2006.

The Boogie Monster at Amazon

19) Halloween Funk – Louis Edwards and Henry Parsley (2010)

This ghoulish track has a carnival spook-house vibe goin’ on. It also has some really cool keyboard work and a creepy Vincent Price-like spoken-word vocal. It’s a track from Edwards and Parsley’s 2010 album Kids Club.

Halloween Funk at Amazon

18) Blacula (The Stalkwalk) – Gene Page (1972)

Gene Page composed and produced this smooth R&B groove for the 1972 Blaxploitation/horror cult classic Blacula, which starred William Marshall and Vonetta McGee. The acclaimed late composer, arranger, conductor and producer scored the entire soundtrack.

Blacula (The Stalkwalk) at Amazon

17) I’m Your Boogie Man – KC & the Sunshine Band (1976)

This disco smash packed dance floors around the world back in the day. The track has an infectious groove with funky guitar licks, tight horn lines and some nice piano work. And that tambourine keeps the groove cookin’.

I'm Your Boogie Man at Amazon

16) Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr. (1984)

R&B artist Ray Parker, Jr. scored his biggest hit with the anthemic title song for the 1984 comedy/fantasy/sci-fi blockbuster Ghostbusters. The catchy pop/R&B track struck a chord with a huge cross-section of listeners.  And the song’s music video was also extremely popular. It contains some fun clips from the film and is chock full of celebrity cameos, including Peter Falk, Irene Cara, John Candy, Carly Simon, Danny DeVito and Teri Garr.  However, before Parker could fully enjoy the song’s massive success, he was hit with a lawsuit. Huey Lewis of the rock band Huey Lewis and the News sued the R&B singer for plagiarism, claiming he lifted the song’s main groove and melody from the News’ hit song “I Want a New Drug.” The two parties ultimately settled out of court.

Ghostbusters at Amazon

15) Weird Science – Oingo Boingo (1985) 

New Wave rock band Oingo Boingo skillfully fused pop, rock and funk on this spastic, haywire groove. It’s the theme song for John Hughes’s 1985 teen sci-fi comedy Weird Science, which is about two high-school geeks who create their ideal woman on a computer—a bit of a computer-aged ‘80s update on the Frankenstein concept.  It was also the theme song for the television series of the same name, which premiered on the USA Network in 1994. The band included a longer version of the song on their album Dead Man’s Party (1985).

Weird Science at Amazon

14) I Put a Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1956)

No Halloween song list would be complete without the inclusion of this spooky rhythm and blues classic. The song is by R&B legend Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who’s often dubbed the original shock rocker. The track is included among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and has been covered by several prominent artists, including Nina Simone, Annie Lennox, Marilyn Manson, Arthur Brown and Joe Cocker.

I Put A Spell On You at Amazon

13) Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo (1985)

Oingo Boingo makes a second appearance on the list with the cool, kinetic groove "Dead Man's Party," which fits right in with the Halloween theme. Danny Elfman and his crew really had a knack for coming up with really catchy but slightly twisted songs. It’s the title track from the band’s 1985 release.

Dead Man's Party at Amazon

12) Monster – The Bar-Kays (1978)

This badass instrumental is by Memphis R&B/funk band the Bar-Kays. The dope funk groove has some great guitar work and powerful horn parts. The track is from the band’s 1978 album Money Talks and was the B-side of their funk classic “Holy Ghost.”

Monster at Amazon

11) Creature Feature – Billy Preston (1974)

The late, great keyboard maestro Billy Preston got busy with some serious synth-filled funk on this groovin’ instrumental. The track is from Preston’s 1974 album The Kids & Me.

Kids & Me CD at Amazon

10) Come Alive (The War of the Roses) – Janelle Monáe (2010)

Innovative R&B sensation Janelle Monáe showed a bit of her wild side on this brilliant track. The song has a spooky Halloween vibe to it. And the hard-driving rockabilly/punk groove gives Monáe room to really cut loose and get a little crazy. She delivers a truly inspired vocal performance. The song is from her critically acclaimed debut album The ArchAndroid, released in 2010.

Come Alive (The War Of The Roses) at Amazon

9) Ghosts – Michael Jackson (1997)

This irresistible little groove nugget is a track from Michael Jackson's 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The track boasts a hot beat and some cool, spooky synth work. And MJ’s haunting harmonies will definitely put the listener in a Halloween mood. The pop legend co-wrote and produced the track with New Jack Swing king Teddy Riley. The song was also featured in MJ’s short film Ghosts (1997), which was directed by late special effects master Stan Winston; and MJ cowrote the film’s story concept with famous horror novelist Stephen King.

Ghosts at Amazon

8) Rigor Mortis – Cameo (1976)

"Rigor Mortis" is a monster dance groove by the super-talented funk/R&B outfit Cameo. It’s a track from the band’s debut album, Cardiac Arrest (1977), which introduced the world to their unique and dynamic brand of funk and R&B.

Rigor Mortis at Amazon

7) Thriller– Michael Jackson (1983)

Acclaimed songwriter/producer Rod Temperton penned this splendid slice of R&B. “Thriller” is one of Michael Jackson's most well-known tracks and has become the international Halloween anthem. The song’s epic video often overshadows what a terrific, well-crafted piece of music it really is. And it’s interesting to note that the song’s original title was “Starlight,” and the album was originally called Midnight Man. MJ even recorded a demo of “Starlight.” However, Quincy Jones didn’t think the title was strong enough. So Temperton came up with the new title “Thriller.” He rewrote the lyrics to fit the new title but kept the music the same. And keeping with the new horror-film theme, spooky sound effects were added to the song, such as a creaky door, wolves howling, a storm, etc. Also, legendary horror film actor Vincent Price added his iconic rap in only two takes. All involved ultimately decided that Thriller would be the better title for the album. The rest is history.

Thriller at Amazon

6)  Zombie – Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 (1976)

This percolating, high-energy track illustrates why the late, great Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti was such an acclaimed and beloved artist. The song is a blistering condemnation of  Nigerian soldiers who blindly followed orders like "Zombies" without giving thought to their actions. And in a broader sense, the song is an attack on law enforcement agencies in general that carry out the whims and agendas of a corrupt power without considering the rights of the citizens they're supposed to protect and serve. 

 "Zombie" is just an incredible piece of music, and the groove is so infectious that you can’t help but move when you hear it. The song is the title track from Fela & Afrika 70’s 1976 studio album release.

Zombie at Amazon

5) Little Monsters – RonKat Spearman (2004)

Multitalented musician/songwriter and performer RonKat Spearman dropped this massively funky cut back in 2004. The P-Funk Allstar cowrote the track with none other than Dr. Funkenstein himself, George Clinton, who contributes some cool-ghoul vocals. And P-Funk vocalists Kim Manning and Kendra Foster bring some sass and soul to the funky proceedings. The song is the title track from Ronkat’s 2004 EP.

Little Monsters at Amazon

4) Natural Born Killaz – Dr. Dre, featuring Ice Cube (1994)

Dr. Dre reunited with former N.W.A group mate Ice Cube for this chilling track. Dre lays down one of his baddest G-Funk beats on this cut. The eerie synth vamps create a truly sinister vibe that fits the song’s macabre theme of getting inside the minds of two homicidal maniacs. Dre and Cube both deliver strong raps—lyrically and execution-wise. Their horrifying, imagistic lyrics cut like a sharpened serrated edge knife. It’s raw poetry from the bowels of hell. And the music video is a bit on the disturbing side, well actually more than a bit. It has Dre and Cube playing two murderous psychopaths on a killing spree. The video is cinematic in scope and features veteran actor John Amos as a chief homicide detective heading up a huge manhunt for the killers. It also features a brief cameo appearance from Tupac Shakur as a SWAT sniper. This is probably the most genuinely scary track on the list.

Natural Born Killaz [Explicit] at Amazon

3) Superstition – Stevie Wonder (1972)

You know I couldn’t leave “Superstition” off the list. I would be derelict in my funk duty if I did. This wicked, clavinet-driven funk groove is one of Stevie's most recognized songs. It was the lead single from his landmark album Talking Book (1972); the song topped both the pop and R&B singles chart in the U.S. And it earned the music legend two Grammys, one for Best R&B Song and one for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Superstition at Amazon

2) Dr. Funkenstein – Parliament (1976)

Dr. Funkenstein is one of George Clinton’s most well-known alter egos. He’s the mad scientist who uncovered the ancient secret of the “Afronauts,” who have the ability to funkatize galaxies. With this discovery, the good doctor went about the task of cloning these Afronauts, so there would never again be a shortage of The Funk—a most precious resource. Dr. Funkenstein is all about having a good time and bringing great uncut funk to appreciative funkateers around the world.

Clinton delivers a clever and funny rap on this track. Here’s a sampling: “They say the bigger the headache, the bigger the pill, baby/Call me the big pill/Dr. Funkenstein, the disco fiend with the monster sound/The cool ghoul with the bump transplant.” The stupidly funky groove is anchored by Bootsy Collins' nasty bass line. The track has a fantastic intro and boasts a funkalicious trombone solo from horn legend Fred Wesley. And the song has an irresistible hook on the chorus. "Dr. Funkenstien" was written by George Clinton, Bootsy and Bernie Worrell and was a single from Parliament’s 1976 album The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein.

Dr. Funkenstein at Amazon

1)  Stretchin’ Out (In a Rubber Band) – Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976)

Mega-talented bass man Bootsy Collins shook up the music scene when he dropped this incredibly funky cut back in 1976. The syncopation on this track is just insane—not a drop of funk is wasted. The dynamic groove is powered by Bootsy’s furious bass line and boasts hot brass jolts, dirty guitar licks and a super-phat beat. And P-Funk keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell brings some ghostly ambiance to the groove through his superb synth work. Oh, and let’s not forget the funky cowbell played by Bootsy.

For this track, Bootsy channeled his alter ego Casper, who’s the chillest, funkiest phantom in the spirit world. The song was co-written and produced by Bootsy and George Clinton and was the lead single from Bootsy's superb debut album Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976).

Stretchin' Out (In A Rubber Band) at Amazon


Anonymous said...

I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work, its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You. R&B

rick-rack rebel said...

Awesome! Just the playlist I was looking for. Hopefully you can include Supernature" by Cerrone on your next funky Halloween list. Funky disco electric synth masterpiece from 1977.