New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Staff Recs: BOO!

With the Halloween season officially starting, WSN’s Arts Desk highlights books, songs and more to get you in the holiday spirit.
Max Van Hosen
(Illustration by Max Van Hosen)

Trick or treat from WSN’s Arts Desk! We can’t give you candy, but we can give you something even more delicious — our Halloween-themed favorites. 

In case you haven’t solidified your plans for Halloweekend, we have got you covered with some wicked Halloween recommendations. Grab your pumpkin pie and dive into some spooky fiction, get up to a little hocus-pocus or dance the night away with some frightful dance moves. 

However you choose to celebrate this ghoulish occasion, we hope that our recommendations make your spooky season that much better.

“Only Murders in the Building” 

— Julia Diorio, Music Editor

This Hulu series starring Selena Gomez, Martin Short and Steve Martin is currently airing its third season and has me completely captivated. The dynamic between Gomez’s young and snarky Mabel Mora, Martin’s oblivious Charles-Haden Savage and Short’s lovable Oliver Putnam never has an off beat. Each season follows the trio investigating a different murder in their classic Upper West Side apartment building, which they narrate through podcasts about the case. 

Meryl Streep and Paul Rudd are two of season three’s recurring guest stars. The entirety of “Death Rattle,” the name of the musical that they produce in the show, is so incredibly strange and ridiculous. The murders and haunting soundtracks keep you on the edge of your seat, while the characters add a touch of humor. The twists and turns of “Only Murders” keep me, a serial predictor of endings, on my toes constantly. If you’re looking for a spooky TV show for fall but are also a little scared, “Only Murders” is the show for you! The season three finale airs on Oct. 3. 

“Cop Killer” by John Maus

— Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor

You may have already heard this track from the Netflix show “Russian Doll,” which is a fantastic show that warrants its own spot on this list of recommendations, but I digress. If you have, you’re already familiar with the track’s weird, gothic melody and distorted vocals, akin to something you might hear in a Gregorian chant. 

John Maus’ sparse lyricism on “Cop Killer” may come off as comical to some, with its repetitive, campy and commanding droning. It was loosely inspired by the Body Count’s controversial track of the same name. “Cop killer / Let’s kill the cops tonight / Kill them, cop killer / Let’s kill every cop in sight.” Scored with eerie gothic reverb and vintage ’80s synth presets, “Cop Killer” by Maus becomes less of a furious incendiary protest about police brutality like its predecessor. Instead, it becomes a maudlin ballad about killing or overthrowing the status quo, referencing cops acting as a representation of oppressive authority. With Halloween approaching, this somber and haunting melody is perfect to brood over as you procrastinate studying for your midterms. 

“Berlin” by Bea Setton 

— Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor 

I have never been a big lover of Halloween, but I have always been a big lover of literary fiction about single women. While it may not be exactly autumnal, “Berlin” by Bea Setton definitely takes the cake as the spookiest book on my Goodreads. 

The story follows the privileged, witty and uninspired Daphne Ferber after she moves to Berlin to escape the troubles of her London life. Instantly, she realizes that something about this new chapter of her life is wrong. Someone or something is out to get her, and her self-sabotaging habits certainly don’t help the situation. While readers go along with Daphne as she takes German classes, navigates dating and indulges in her subletter’s spa products, something dark is looming over her — but what is it, and why her? 

“In the Miso Soup” by Ryū Murakami 

— Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor

Wherever I turn, I can’t escape the suffocating grip of serial killer content. From tacky true crime shows to Jeffrey Dahmer thirst traps on social media, it is astounding to see how the internet obsessively deifies mass murderers. While a lot of more recent serial killer projects are tasteless and exploitative, Ryū Murakami’s novel “In the Miso Soup” is every bit as gruesome as it is existentially haunting. 

The story follows Kenji, a young and despondent nightlife guide who organizes tours of Tokyo’s hedonistic underbelly. As he brings Frank, a shady American tourist, around the neon-lit debauchery of the Kabukicho district, Kenji begins to suspect his client is guilty of a string of grisly murders reported around the metropolis. While Murakami writes with a borderline pornographic sensibility, his depiction of obscene violence does not aim to create sadistic entertainment. Under the gory details of this chilling novel is an exploration of urban solitude in the new millennia — a world subjugated by consumerism and excessive decadence.  

“Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

— Clara Scholl, Arts Editor

Written by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on its 2009 album “It’s Blitz!”, “Heads Will Roll” tells a terrifying story of murder that you can’t help but dance to. 

Combining a strong, steady beat with spooky lyrics, such as, “Off with your head / Dance ‘til you’re dead,” the indie band provides the listener with a synth-pop delight.

Outside of a great Halloween tune, the lyrics describe the dangers of a party lifestyle without sounding too moralistic. They confront the issues with drug use within the going-out scene, especially in festivals and in raves, although they are never specifically mentioned by name. 

While the lyrics are harder to internalize behind the heavy beat and rhythm hook, they are just as important. “Heads Will Roll” is the perfect Halloween dance song but also a reminder to be safe on your Halloweekend.

Contact the Arts Desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Julia Diorio
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].
Alexa Donovan
Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor
Alexa Donovan is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Art History and minoring in Creative Writing. Her favorite drink is lemonade and her party trick is listing the U.S. presidents in chronological order. You can find her in Bobst Library most hours of the day, on instagram @alexadonovan/@lemonadequeen5678 and on Goodreads @alexafdonovan.
Mick Gaw
Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor
Mick Gaw is a junior double-majoring in History and Public Policy. When he’s not holed up in a cinema, he's probably perusing the aisles of an Asian grocery store, wandering around museums or taking ugly pictures of his meals. You can find him on Instagram as @gawmick and occasionally on Letterboxd as @micks_canon.
Clara Scholl
Clara Scholl, Arts Editor
Clara Scholl is a Gallatin junior studying philosophy, politics and economics. She’s from New York City and hosts a radio show on the Riot Grrrl movement. You can find her on X, formerly Twitter, @scholl_clara or on Instagram @cllscholl.
Stephanie Wong
Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor
Stephanie Wong is a junior double-majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism, with a minor in English Literature. In her spare time, she loves watching bad movies and curating esoteric Spotify playlists. You can find her at @_stephaniewong_ on Instagram, @normalstephanie on Spotify, and unfortunately, on Letterboxd as @emima.

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