What do we mean by Carnivalesque? Mikhail Bakhtin, Russian literary critic and philosopher, wrote about the Carnivalesque in literature. It is a suspension of rules, practiced during Carnivale (carne-vale, translated as “farewell, meat”) and Mardi Gras, the celebration before the austerity of Lent, and during Halloween. It was a way to acknowledge that despite the power of the Church and King over people’s lives, there was a space in time in which people could play at having the power. They could dress up and be anything they chose during a suspension of regular order and they would be believed. It is a revolt against rule, albeit temporary.
Why the playlist? Because everyone I know except for my mom loves Halloween.
Two songs a day for the entire month (bonus songs for when we get close to the actual date). The songs range from mildly cute and kitschy, safe-for-my-mom, to creepy, to unsettling and downright scary. (For some people, the Carnivalesque is a perpetual state, and they have managed, like vampires, to live outside the world of law and social order.)
Thriller—Michael Jackson. Yes, I’m starting here because go big or go home. And because it’s not a surprise that this song is the theme for the entire season.
I Love My Monsters—The Voronas
Season of the Witch—Donovan.
She’s My Witch—The Radiacs
The Skeleton Dance—Silly Symphony
Night of the Vampire—Moontrekkers
This is Halloween—from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Spooks—Louis Armstrong. Spooks—Louis Armstrong. Armstrong has a few “holiday” songs that are layered with an additional horror of confronting a very real evil, if you’re black and live in America. (The unsettling Christmas song is “‘Zat You, Santa Claus?“)
The Killing Moon—Echo and the Bunnymen
Transylvania Twist—Baron Daemon and the Vampires
Bela Lugosi’s Dead—Bauhaus
Blue Monday—Orkestra Obsolete. Just off enough to be unsettling and spooky.
Suspiria—Goblin. Classic chills from slasher master Dario Argento.
Satan is Her Name—Steve King. Also, a great pulp film, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! starring Tura Satana, and yes, that was her actual (married) name.