The Best Music For Halloween Is Made In Mexico

Día de Muertos parade in the 2015 film Spectre
Día de Muertos parade in the 2015 film "Spectre" | © MGM/Columbia

Whether your throwing a costumed Halloween bash or trying to set up your neighborhood’s hottest stop for trick-or-treaters, determining the proper playlist is always a challenge. While some houses opt for staple slasher soundtracks and scary sounds pastiches, neither of these are ideal for a party, and we can only listen to “Monster Mash” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” so many times. Thankfully, All Hallows’ Eve isn’t the only holiday observed on Oct. 31; we also have Mexico’s Día de Muertos, aka Day of the Dead.

A long-standing celebration of life and loved ones who have died, Día de Muertos includes traditions such as building alters, and gifts of sugar skulls and marigolds, all typically placed at their graves. Despite their disparate origins, there are a number of similarities between Halloween and Day of the Dead — skeletons, sweets, and honoring the afterlife, among a few others — but one thing Halloween could benefit by adopting from its Mexican counterpart is the music created in the holiday’s spirit. Below are a few of our favorite tracks recorded by artists across Mexico, as well as a couple from other Latin countries, that are sure to deliver the ghoulish grooves your Halloween festivities need.

Lila Downs & Mariachi Juvenil de Tecalitlan – “La Llorona”

This track combines two legends. First is Oaxaca born and raised singer-songwriter and three-time Grammy winner Lila Downs. Second is the tale of “The Weeping Woman,” aka La Llorona. Prominent throughout all Hispanic culture, the myth most traditionally goes that a beautiful named Maria drowned her own children in a river after her husband left her for a younger woman. Overtaken with guilt and sadness, she drowns herself. Stuck between the realms of the living and the spirits, the ghost of Maria is doomed to wander the Earth forever, weeping wherever she goes in search of her children. As some versions claim, La Llorona kidnaps children and drowns them in an attempt to replace her own.
Lila Downs’ version of “La Llorona” comes from the soundtrack of Frida, the 2002 film depicting the life of renowned surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

For those unfamiliar with Cumbia, it is a dance-oriented style of music that originated in Colombia. In its first form, it was a courtship ritual practiced by African slaves along the Caribbean coast of eastern Colombia. It is similar to salsa, and it incorporates guitars, accordions, bass guitar, and percussion. If any Cumbia is perfect for Halloween, it’s certainly Satan’s Cumbia.

Paté de Fuá – “El Fantasma Enamorado”

Based in Mexico City, Paté de Fuá’s 2009 track hits a majority of the Halloween keywords: bats, ghosts, moon, tomb, etc. From the boney thuds of the xylophone and the wails of the musical saw, to the band’s costumes and graveyard setup in their music video, “El Fantasma Enamorado” is delightfully creepy.

La Santa Cecilia – “Calaverita”

Lyrics like “I’m not afraid of death because she’s a part of me / She was born with me and with me she’ll go one day / Here’s to celebrating life!” is what Día de Muertos is all about. Keep an eye out for zombie Donald Trump, who most definitely must stay on his side of the fence.

Mexican Institute of Sound – “Canción Embrujada”

Haunted by some ghostly female apparition, Mexico City’s Mexico Institute of Sound’s “Bewitched Song” delivers a slow-building, dark, metallic beat that is guaranteed to get people on their feet.

Caifanes – “Mariquita”

Shh, be quiet. The dead are among us.

Tlen Huicani – “La Bruja”

Veracruz, México’s Tlen Hucani tells of witches on brooms, wondering how many creatures she has “sucked,” and we even get a mention of a pumpkin (calabaza).

San Pascualito Rey – “Te Voy A Dormir”

A tale of death, Mexico City’s San Pascualito Rey keeps thing as eerie as they are cool on “Te Voy A Dormir.”

Misterio – “Vampirella”

Argentinan trio Misterio deliver deep-toned surf rock, only occasionally whispering “vampirella” in-between riffs and random yells.

The Exciters – “Ese Muerto No Lo Cargo Yo”

Easily one of the most festive tunes on this list, Panamanian collective The Exciters features some subtly sinister cackles and horns on “Ese Muerto No Lo Cargo Yo.”

(If you’re looking for tracks that feel a little more familiar, there’s a salsa version of “Thriller,” a “Monster Mash” Spanish remix, and don’t forget “Los Locos Addams*snap snap*)

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article