8 Songs to Play at a Halloween Party That You Might Not Have Thought Of

My fellow staff writer Lucas Kunsman recently wrote a very good list of songs that are hauntingly beautiful. A few of my favorites — “Oh Comely” and “Kasimir Pulaski Day” — made the list. But it got me curious: what are 8 songs that are actually appropriate for a Halloween party? Now, these aren’t all Halloween songs, I know, and a lot of them aren’t really that dark or scary; I didn’t want to give you a list filled with horror-film scores and industrial metal. I also didn’t want to give you a list of songs like “Monster Mash” and “Thriller”, so I tried to pick songs you haven’t thought of.

So here are a few songs that are vaguely sinister and festive, but still fun enough to justify playing at a party. No one wants to hear the theme from Psycho while they’re sipping a beer and trying to hit on the girl in the inappropriately revealing costume.

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A Closer Look at Why We Hate Nickelback

But why?  ...Okay, that soul patch is pretty bad.
But why? …Okay, that soul patch is pretty bad.

This past weekend, I was having a GroupMe conversation with a few of my fraternity brothers and, somehow or other, Nicolas Cage popped up.  He always seems to do that in the strangest of places.  We threw around the idea of having Cage be the entertainment for our next party–”he probably needs the money,” quipped our social chair–when I brought up the possibility of a Nick-themed rager: Nicolas Cage PLUS Nickelback.  So bad it would be legendary.  “Cagelback: Because we hate you.”

We all had our laughs but then I remembered something: I used to like Nickelback.

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Under-appreciated Albums: “The Hazards of Love”, by the Decemberists

A few weeks ago the National played at the Ryman, and fellow staff writer Nick Kline and I happened to meet up there. We talked about music, favorite bands, past concerts, and then we hit upon The Decemberists — we’d both seen them live, on their 2009 A Short Fazed Hovel tour, where they played the entirety of their recent album The Hazards of Love. Nick mentioned as an aside that HoL his least favorite Decemberists album, and conversation moved on.

Perhaps this (and, admittedly, a bad case of writer’s block) is what motivated me to write this. While I don’t necessarily know why it’s Nick’s least favorite, nor do I even know if he likes or dislikes it, the general opinion developed since The Hazards of Love‘s release is that’s it’s overwrought, weird, has too many guest vocals, is too repetitive, and too metal. By the time of the release of The Decemberists’ next effort, the superb The King is Dead in 2011, frontman Colin Meloy admitted “Even I’m starting to believe it, like, ‘I guess The Hazards of Love did kind of suck, didn’t it?’”.  By 2013, it’s largely been swept under the rug, left hiding under the skirt of the bigger and strong releases in their six-album catalog. Yet, I can’t help but love this album.  [Read more...]

Jillian Stein and a New Project

I have a second music child to look after now--RVU Records, Vanderbilt's student-run recording company.
I have a second music child to look after now–RVU Records, Vanderbilt’s student-run recording company.

Hi everybody,

Thanks for your continued support of The VU Backstage!  Jillian Stein was a phenomenal guest last night.  Her music gives off a very retro, late 60s-early 70s folk vibe, and you can easily draw comparisons to Joni Mitchell (who, as it turns out, is her chief influence).  Catch the full episode right here.

This next bit of news is extremely exciting and relevant both to the show and to WRVU.  It has taken weeks of development on my part and involved a litany of other people, both students and fully grown adults.  It required a fairly large investment by the Vanderbilt Student Communications board.  It has the potential to change the music scene at Vanderbilt FOREVER.

Jillian Stein played a great show on The VU Backstage last night.  Also, building suspense for the "bit of news" I'm about to drop.
Jillian Stein played a great show on The VU Backstage last night. Also, building suspense for the “bit of news” I’m about to drop.

Have I built you up sufficiently?

HAVE I???
Irrelevant picture of a cat, to further build suspense.

HAVE I????????

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Michael Pollack and Singing Your Own Lyrics

Michael Pollack has always had confidence behind a piano; only recently did he gain confidence behind a microphone.
Michael Pollack has always had confidence behind a piano; only recently did he gain confidence behind a microphone.

Hello everybody!

My name is Zach Blumenfeld and each Sunday at 9pm central I host The VU Backstage, which features a live performance by and interview with a Vanderbilt student musician.  This week’s guest was Michael Pollack, who gained fame when he played New York State of Mind with Billy Joel on January 30th.  He’s really come a long way from where he was the last time I had him on the show, in February.  Since then, Michael has gone viral on YouTube, appeared on nationally broadcast talk shows like Today and Jeff Probst, recorded and released an eponymous EP, and played in front of a sold-out crowd at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.  If you missed the show, you can catch the whole thing here.

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