Monsters come in many different varieties: There are zombies, werewolves, vampires, Frankensteins and more, and they’ve haunted — and delighted — us for centuries. Monsters endure not just because they scare us, but because they offer a chill, a thrill and help us really feel alive.
Now that it’s spooky season, we’re seeing more monsters in movies and TV shows, but they have also creeped into some excellent songs. Songs about Monsters can be silly or scary and suitable for dancing or even head-banging. Here are 20 of our favorites…listen if you dare!
1. “The Purple People Eater” — Sheb Wooley (1958)
Ah, the good old days of novelty songs! “The Purple People Eater” tells the tale of a space creature who comes to Earth to join a rock band. More silly than scary, the song is kid-friendly and creative (isn’t “Purple People Eater” so much fun to say?) and it’s endured as a Halloween party staple for over 60 years. The song has endured as a pop cultural reference, and was even adapted into a movie in 1988.
2. “Monster Mash” — Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (1962)
It was a graveyard smash! This early-’60s novelty classic is inescapable come spooky season. Sung from the perspective of a mad scientist whose monstrous creation starts a new dance craze, the song is brilliantly campy, and has been covered many times and used in a variety of movies and TV shows.
While Bobby Pickett became Halloween royalty with this tune, that wasn’t his original plan. Before he recorded “Monster Mash,” he was an aspiring actor, but his spot-on impression of horror star Boris Karloff inspired the song, and the rest is history.
3. “Frankenstein” — New York Dolls (1973)
Monsters have always held a special appeal for the music world’s misfits, as the New York Dolls showed on this catchy early-’70s track. The New York Dolls are known as one of the earliest punk bands, and what could be more punk than identifying with one of the most famous monsters?
In an interview, the band’s frontman, David Johansen, explained the connection between monsters and alienation: “The song is about how kids come to Manhattan from all over, they’re kind of like whipped dogs, they’re very repressed. Their bodies and brains are disoriented from each other… it’s a love song.”
4. “Godzilla” — Blue Öyster Cult (1977)
Given that they’re best known for their hit 1976 song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” it’s clear that Blue Öyster Cult have a thing for the macabre. The next year, their song “Godzilla” would further prove their love of all things horror. The song was born from a riff that reminded the band’s guitarist of Godzilla, and from there he was inspired by his fandom for the famous Japanese monster movies.
5. “Almost Human” — Kiss (1977)
With their signature creepy facepaint, it’s inevitable that Kiss would have a monster song. On “Almost Human,” they sing from the perspective of a werewolf lusting after a woman. The song’s title came from West of Zanzibar, a 1928 silent film starring Lon Chaney as a magician.
6. “Werewolves of London” — Warren Zevon (1978)
Monster songs don’t get more entertaining than Warren Zevon’s tale of a suave “hairy-handed gent” with a penchant for Chinese food and piña coladas. The inspiration for the song came from an unlikely source: Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers watched the 1935 movie Werewolf of London and jokingly suggested that Zevon should make it into a dance craze.
Far more than just a novelty, the song has endured for decades. In 2004 the BBC even voted “Werewolves of London” as having the greatest opening lyrics of all time.
7. “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” — The Cramps (1980)
Part punk, part rockabilly and all creepy, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” is a darkly funny tune inspired by the 1957 movie of the same name (which starred a pre-Little House on the Prairie Michael Landon). With lines about “braces on my fangs,” and “puberty rights and… puberty wrongs,” the song perfectly captures the connection between teen angst and monstrousness.
8. “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” — David Bowie (1980)
David Bowie is known for his embrace of the otherworldly. In “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” the monstrous image is used to describe a woman’s descent into madness. This eerie vibe is enhanced by the song’s propulsive instrumentation, which is far too artsy to ever be considered a mere novelty.
That said, Bowie did get his inspiration from a rather amusing source: The legendary rocker was said to be inspired by a Kellogg’s cereal box that read “Scary Monsters and Super Heroes.”
9. “Bark at the Moon” — Ozzy Osbourne (1983)
Considering that Ozzy Osbourne is known as “The Prince of Darkness,” it makes perfect sense that he’d have a monster song. “Bark at the Moon” is a werewolf song (is it just us, or do a lot of songs about monsters seem to concern werewolves?) and the track became Osbourne’s very first music video. In the video, the Ozzman plays a mad scientist and the moon-barking werewolf.
10. “Thriller” — Michael Jackson (1983)
“Thriller” is truly the monster song to end all monster songs. It’s no exaggeration to say Michael Jackson‘s frightfully funky 1983 hit is one of the most popular songs of all time.
The music video, which features Jackson dancing with a horde of monsters, was a staple in the early days of MTV and remains a Halloween classic (and it gets serious bonus points for featuring a spoken-word bit from legendary horror actor Vincent Price). Because “Thriller” is such a popular Halloween song, it’s returned to the charts in October many times in the 40 (!) years since its release.
11. “The Thing That Should Not Be” — Metallica (1986)
Metal and monsters go together like peanut butter and jelly, so of course Metallica had many a monster song. The titular “Thing That Should Not Be” refers to Cthulhu, a monster created by the classic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Fittingly, Metallica had many songs based on Lovecraftian lore.
12. “Eye of the Zombie” — John Fogerty (1986)
When you think of John Fogerty, you’re more likely to conjure up the sounds of his bluesy rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival than spooky songs about monsters. “Eye of the Zombie,” which Rolling Stone called “a sort of third-rate ‘Thriller,’ offers a change of of pace, with lyrics about the dancing undead.
13. “Feed My Frankenstein” — Alice Cooper (1991)
As one of the preeminent shock-rockers since the ’70s, Alice Cooper is a master of monster songs. “Feed My Frankenstein” makes the iconic monster into a figure of comical lust, and the song was famously featured in the classic 1992 comedy Wayne’s World. While the song will forever be associated with Cooper, it’s actually a cover of a song by the British rock band Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. However, Cooper ultimately received a co-writer credit since he changed some of the lyrics.
14. “Zombie” — The Cranberries (1994)
While the “Zombie, Zombie, Zombie-ie-ie” chorus is catchy, this track from the Irish band was inspired by somber events. Singer Dolores O’ Riordan wrote the song following a tragic 1993 bombing in England by the Irish Republican Army, and called it “the most aggressive song we’d written.” “Zombie” proves that songs about monsters are about more than just novelties — they can also be powerful cries of protest.
15. “The Monster Is Loose” — Meat Loaf (2006)
Meat Loaf‘s theatrical antics are well-suited to a monster song. “The Monster Is Loose” comes from the third and final album in the rocker’s Bat Out of Hell trilogy, which started in 1977, and with lyrics like “I’ve lived a thousand years in darkness,” it makes being a monster seem pretty epic — and we wouldn’t expect anything less from Meat Loaf!
16. “Monster” — Lady Gaga (2009)
Lady Gaga is known for embracing the weird and wonderful, so of course she has a monster song. She even affectionately refers to her fans as “little monsters!” Lady Gaga used “Monster” to address her fears around relationships, telling MTV, “If you listen to the lyrics, it’s like being in love with the bad boy all the time, and you keep going back for more… I keep falling in love with the monster… But what I really need is the security and the safety and the womanhood.”
17. “She Wolf” — Shakira (2009)
Can werewolves be sexy? Colombian singer Shakira certainly thinks so! “She Wolf” is a danceable spin on lycanthropy, and Shakira channeled her inner wolf to write the song, telling Rolling Stone, “I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting.”
18. “Werewolf” — Fiona Apple (2012)
Fiona Apple is known for her intense, confessional lyrics and “Werewolf” is no exception. Her comparison of her love to a werewolf and herself to a full moon is full of romantic anguish, and the song even features the sounds of screaming in the background, making it extra eerie.
19. “The Monster” — Eminem featuring Rihanna (2013)
This collaboration between music superstars Eminem and Rihanna uses monsters as a metaphor for psychological drama, opening with the line “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed.” The music video features Eminem watching footage of his career highlights as he confronts past demons.
When asked why he wanted to collaborate with Rihanna on the song, Eminem said, “I thought it would be a good idea to have her on it because I think people look at us like we’re both a little nuts. That’s one of the things that I was telling her in making the record: I think that people look at us a little crazy.”
20. “Vampire” — Olivia Rodrigo (2023)
Olivia Rodrigo is one of Gen Z’s brightest pop stars, thanks to her relatable lyrics and vocals that make you want to sing along. The song is about an ex who uses the singer like a vampire sucking blood. In a Billboard interview, Rodrigo likened the song’s emotional intensity and haunted imagery to a rock opera — vampires do always bring the drama, after all.
A scary good time
Whether your taste leans toward heavy metal or pop, there’s sure to be a monster song for you. In fact, there are so many great monster songs that we think they’re worth playing all year round.
Want more spooky songs? Check out our list of songs about ghosts!
Find more Halloween entertainment here!