Around mid October I went costume shopping and heard Christmas carols wafting from the store’s speakers – a full two weeks before Halloween! Does anyone care about timing anymore? We do. No matter what your taste in music is, Pandora’s Curation Team and I have your Halloween soundtracks covered. Our Family Halloween station is more fun than frightening – I’d love to teach my sister’s kids how do dance “The Monster Mash.” And if Ray Parker Jr. “…ain’t afraid of no ghost,” why should they be? A couple of the Halloween parties I’ve been invited to are Walking Dead themed. That’s why I’m loading up my phone with Halloween Party – it makes me want to drink pumpkin ale and dance like the zombies in “Thriller.” Also, you don’t have to enjoy Halloween ironically to dig Hipster Halloween. It’s got everything from Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall to Dead Moon and The Black Keys. And should your inner goth be craving some darker cuts, tune into to Ghostly Grooves. Or for a more sophisticated way to induce goosebumps, click on Spooky Symphonies while reading some Edgar Allan Poe.
Of course, Halloween Metal is my favorite. While curating this station, I was getting all kinds of awesome memory flashbacks. Fittingly, one of my earliest metal memories took place on Halloween. In second grade, my best friend Dave and I convinced our parents to buy us KISS costumes. Back then you could get a plastic mask and accompanying Halloween smock in a grocery store for the price of a couple cheeseburgers. Dave wanted to be Gene Simmons and I wanted to be Ace Frehley (admittedly, part of me still wants to be Ace Frehley). But as Dave and I put on these costumes, I remember looking in the mirror and feeling kind of dumb. Because even back then I knew that the real “Space Ace” wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a plastic bib with a picture of himself that read, “Ace Frehley!” Still, that night our trick-or-treating efforts yielded tons of candy.
Then as we were carrying our loaded plastic pumpkins back home, four teenagers in KISS baseball shirts and bellbottom jeans suddenly confronted us. They were all wearing KISS grease paint and smoking cigarettes. A scratchy-voiced guy in Peter Criss make-up first saw us and yelled, “Hey man! Check out these little KISS dudes!” And they all squatted down to our size and made us hi-five them. His girlfriend had feathered hair like Farrah Fawcett-Majors and was wearing Paul Stanley make-up. She pointed at me and said, “Check out little Ace!” And then she put out her cigarette and exhaled smoke in my face while yelling, “KISS Army! Wooooooo hooooooo!” They all made us hi-five them again before turning around and leaving the cul-de-sac. Dave and I just stood next to each other in silence for a few minutes. We were both terrified and excited. I couldn’t stop thinking about how scary and cool these teenagers were. But more importantly they thought we were cool. Back then, Dave and I were sometimes teased by a couple jerks in our class for liking KISS. But after getting the approval of juvenile longhairs, I no longer cared what anyone thought or said about my taste in music.
Halloween Metal is loaded with the kinds of bands that those teenagers likely had in their eight-track tape collections; AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult and of course KISS. But there are tons of other ghoulish gems in there by more contemporary head-bangers like High On Fire, Danzig, Kadavar, Slayer and Metallica. And you know Halloween Metal wouldn’t be complete without such horror-rockers as Marilyn Manson, Goblin and Rob Zombie.
We may never experience a time when Christmas carols only play in December. But with our cornucopia of Halloween stations, Pandora can help. The next time you hear someone play “Frosty The Snowman” before the leaves have so much as changed color, tune into Pandora Halloween.