The best songs about monsters are actually a relatively varied bunch. Monsters, after all, can take so many forms: Zombies, werewolves, dinosaurs. But there are metaphorical monsters, too: Jealousy, rage, pride. Nonetheless, most of these tunes have a horror or Halloween vibe to them. And while they’re all good enough to play outside of October, you’ll no doubt have even more reason to jam them around that time. So, without further ado, here are some of the best spine chilling songs about monsters for your next playlist.
Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash
Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers released “Monster Mash” as a novelty song in 1962, alongside a full LP of other monster-oriented tunes. That same year, the song reached No.1 just before Halloween, remaining a staple of the season for decades to come. However, despite its zany tale of a mad scientist’s monster throwing a party, the BBC banned it for being “too morbid.”
Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London
Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon’s rock hit “Werewolves of London” began as a joke idea between Zevon and Phil Everly from The Everly Brothers, after the two watched the 1935 film of the same name. Released through Asylum Records, it marked Zevon’s only Top 40 hit.
Edgar Winter – Frankenstein
An instrumental song released by The Edgar Winter Group, “Frankenstein” appears on their 1972 album, They Only Come Out at Night. It sold over one million copies, even replacing Paul McCartney’s “My Love” atop the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1973. As for the song’s title, it came from drummer Chuck Ruff: The song was originally much longer, with the final version considerably edited down.
White Zombie – Creature of the Wheel
White Zombie’s 1995 song “Creature of the Wheel” is featured on their album Astro-Creep: 2000 — Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head. The song’s title and lyrics were based on a quote from The Omega Man, a 1971 film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend.
Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla
Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” is the opening track of the hard rock band’s fifth studio album Spectres. Written as a tribute to the movie (and the monster) of the same name, “Godzilla” has become one of the band’s well-known songs. In the years following its 1977 release, Smashing Pumpkins, Sebastian Bach, and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian have all covered the track.
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was written by Rod Temperton and produced by Quincy Jones for the pop star’s sixth studio album of the same title. What most folks remember, though, is the music video, in which Jackson transforms into a zombie. It became the album’s seventh single to hit the Top 10.
Sheb Wooley – The Purple People Eater
Initially rejected by MGM Records, the company changed their mind on Sheb Wooley’s 1958 novelty hit “The Purple People Eater” after the younger workers started listening to it at lunchtime. The No.1 song tells the story of a “one-eyed, one-horned” monster who comes to Earth with the hopes of joining a rock band.
Kanye West feat. Rick Ross, Jay Z, and Nicki Minaj – Monster
Kanye West teamed up with Rick Ross, Jay Z, and Nicki Minaj for “Monster” in 2010. It was the third single from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. While Minaj’s verse in the song has become incredibly well-known, the music video also drew attention. With intense horror imagery, the video was banned from MTV upon release.
Mercyful Fate – Return of the Vampire
Mercyful Fate’s “Return of the Vampire” appears on a 1992 compilation album of demo tracks, which were made prior to the band’s first official release in 1982. The heavy metal band used a painted image of a vampire for the compilation’s cover design. Lyrically, the song is about how to stop a vampire.
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Featured on Black Sabbath’s debut album, the song “Black Sabbath” is the opening track and details both satanic imagery and supernatural experiences the band’s bassist, Geezer Butler, had. “Ozzy gave me this 16th Century book about magic that he’d stolen from somewhere. I put it in the airing cupboard because I wasn’t sure about it,” Butler wrote in the liner notes for their album Reunion. “Later that night I woke up and saw this black shadow at the end of the bed. It was a horrible presence that frightened the life out of me! I ran to the airing cupboard to throw the book out, but the book had disappeared.”
The Cranberries – Zombie
Irish rock band The Cranberries made “Zombie” one of their biggest hits in 1994, as the lead single from their sophomore album. Written by the band’s lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, it was a protest song in memory of Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, after the 1993 Warrington bombings. “We were on a tour bus and I was near the location where it happened, so it really struck me hard – I was quite young, but I remember being devastated about the innocent children being pulled into that kind of thing,” she shared in 2017.
David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
David Bowie’s “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” is the third track from his 1980 album of the same name. While the song itself tells the story of a man whose obsession with his then-girlfriend drives her to madness, Bowie drew inspiration for the title from a surprising place. It was actually inspired by an ad for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal, which was titled “Scary Monsters and Super Heroes.”
Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon
The lead single from his 1983 album, Ozzy Osbourne’s heavy metal song “Bark at the Moon” is about a creature who returns to scare a town once more. For the music video, Osbourne was transformed into a werewolf, after being inspired by the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Years later, the song found continued success through video games, appearing in both Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Alice Cooper – He’s Back
Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” served as the theme song for the 1986 film, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, along with appearing on Cooper’s album that same year. It would also be referenced through other iterations of the franchise, including the 2005 novel, Friday the 13th: Hate-Kill-Repeat, and in the end credits of the horror video game, Friday the 13th: The Game.
Lady Gaga – Monster
“Monster” by pop star Lady Gaga appeared on her third EP, 2009’s The Fame Monster. Produced by RedOne, Gaga co-wrote it about her fear of relationships, specifically always going back to a bad boy archetype. “I keep falling in love with the monster… But what I really need is the security and the safety and the womanhood, responsibility of my femininity. And so that’s what that song is about,” she told MTV.
Of Monsters And Men – Wolves Without Teeth
Of Monsters and Men’s 2015 song, “Wolves Without Teeth” is a duet between band members Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” þórhallsson. While it’s not exactly about creatures or monsters, it does detail the fear that two people have about loving one another. It saw an official release on the band’s album, Beneath the Skin.
Fela Kuti – Zombie
Afrobeat singer-songwriter Fela Kuti’s “Zombie” was released in 1976. In it, he criticized the country’s government. Specifically, Kuti used zombies as a comparison for the military soldiers. Tragically, the song (and album release of the same title) led to a retaliatory attack, which resulted in the death of Kuti’s mother.
Eels – My Beloved Monster
The sixth song of Eels’ 1996 album, Beautiful Freak, “My Beloved Monster” is best known by appearing in a scene from the Dreamworks cartoon film, Shrek. During the band’s tours, leader Mark Oliver Everett still performs the track, but changes the instrumental rendition. “Aside from the fact that the lyrics are the same, you might not notice that you’re listening to the same song over and over again,” he told Fuse TV.
Imagine Dragons – The Monster
Rock band Imagine Dragons recorded “The Monster” in 2013, as part of the soundtrack for the video game, Infinity Blade III. In the game, the song is played after the gamer obtains the “Imagine Dragon” weapon. It would also appear in the trailer that same year for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
John Fogerty – Eye of the Zombie
“Eye of the Zombie” by John Fogerty was released in September of 1986, from his album of the same title. The singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album was a commercial success, despite receiving a negative critical reception. It also earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal the following year.
Eric Church – Monsters
Country star Eric Church co-wrote his 2019 single, “Monsters,” with Jeff Hyde, about comparing a monster under a child’s bed to real-life issues. The song appeared on Church’s third studio album. It was also partially inspired by his own son, Boone, who wanted a night light on to keep away any monsters.
Lana Del Rey – Gods & Monsters
Released in 2012, Lana Del Rey’s “Gods & Monsters” originally started as a poem written by Daniel Angulo, before he gave her permission to use it as song lyrics. The following year, the track was used in the television anthology, American Horror Story: Freakshow, with Jessica Lange performing a memorable cover version.
Rob Zombie – Dragula
Rob Zombie’s 1998 debut single, “Dragula,” was titled after one of the cars (called DRAG-U-LA) from The Munsters television show. “[It] was a classic show with great comic characters. Strangely enough, ‘Dragula’ was one of the last songs finished for the record. It fell together really fast and worked, but it could just as easily not have been on the record,” he told Billboard. A remix of the song went on to appear on the soundtrack for The Matrix.
Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein
Another entry from Alice Cooper’s discography, the glam metal star released a cover of “Feed My Frankenstein” in 1992, after the song was originally recorded by Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction the year prior. Cooper performs the song in Wayne’s World during a concert scene and appears on the film’s soundtrack.