It’s officially spooky season, and if there’s one artist who can give you an appropriately horrifying Halloween playlist, it’s Kim Petras.
With her intoxicating dance-pop sound, quivering vocals, and total devotion to the creepy girl aesthetic, she’s committed to creating a whole new meaning for ‘sounds of the season’. Here are our top picks for Kim’s most ungodly tracks this October.
Unholy (with Sam Smith)
Kim’s most recent release, ‘Unholy’, is an edgy collaboration with soulful singer-songwriter Sam Smith. Debuting at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, it’s not only Kim’s first ever number one single, but the first chart topper in history by two trans artists, with Kim identifying as a transgender woman, and Sam as nonbinary and genderqueer.
Opening to a haunting choir, ‘Unholy’ uses refreshingly experimental dance-pop production to tell the disturbing story of a man cheating behind his wife’s back. Kim plays the scandalous character of the girl on the side, providing a sassy vocal delivery, and honeyed harmonies positively to die for.
The freshly released music video is a glamorous affair, blending B-grade horror movie tropes with classy cabaret visuals inspired by the 2001 film Moulin Rouge! It showcases some stunning choreography from both Sam and Kim, and RuPaul’s Drag Race legends Violet Chachki and Gottmik even make appearances, as the bosses of the video’s “body shop”.
Turn off the Light
Perhaps the first true Halloween album in existence, Kim’s project ‘Turn Off The Light’ is an absolute pop essential. Beginning its journey as an independently released nine-track EP in 2018, Kim expanded and updated ‘Turn Off The Light’ over several years, until it hit a whopping eighteen tracks in 2020. The collection serves as the scarier answer to Christmas music, with Kim declaring Halloween as “the real start of the holiday season”.
‘Turn Off The Light’ came with some seriously twisted visuals. Promotional images warped photos of Kim looking like her sticky-sweet Barbie self into a decaying, zombified doll. It’s a role she plays up on tracks like the tongue-in-cheek ‘Death By Sex’, where she provides the sickly double entendre, “serve you the body, skinniest waist, you’re gonna love it”. ‘Close Your Eyes’ is equally campy, seeing Kim play a terrifying midnight murderess in the vein of feminist classics like Jennifer’s Body. Standout track ‘Massacre’ even crafts her own petrifying version of Christmas classic ‘Carol of the Bells’.
Elsewhere, Kim toys with inventive production elements to convey the spooky sensation. Her voice drips in warbling autotune on ‘Wrong Turn’, and fizzes beneath static on ‘Demons’. Classic horror movie sound effects like heavy breathing and creaking doors build an unsettling background ambience, amongst more unusual noises of scraping knives, guttural screams, and Kim’s classic “woo-ah!” tag. She even gets spooky in her native German tongue on ‘In The Next Life’, a Freddy Mercury-inspired runaway from Kim’s evil alter-ego. It’s exactly as bizarre and fun as it sounds.
But what gives Turn Off The Light that special touch is its pure party energy, thanks to an abundance of instrumental tracks bridging each lyrical song. ‘TRANSylvania’ offers dark, synthy bass lines, whilst ‘Bloody Valentine’ focuses on a shuddering vocal chop that electrifies the dancefloor. These slick, club-infused interludes make the record perfect for an event where you don’t need to know the words to groove along. Not to mention, the album also houses a collaboration with none other than 1980s horror movie icon, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. It’s these spectacular details that might just cement Turn Off The Light as not only the first true Halloween album in existence, but the eternal best.
A deep cut from Kim’s Clarity mixtape, ‘Personal Hell’ sees Kim begging for her love interest to answer her desires and free her from being alone. With cheeky lyrics like “Only your hands make me come… alive”, and demonic imagery tossed in amongst visuals of a dreamy romance, it’s a standout track amongst the dance-pop collection, showing Kim couldn’t possibly restrict her taste for trick-or-treat to ‘Turn Off The Light’ alone.
Running Up That Hill
In a timely coincidence, Kim released her Amazon-exclusive ‘Running Up That Hill’ cover just as Stranger Things swept the original Kate Bush track up international charts. It’s a faithful rendition of the original that fits in nicely with her Halloween hits, using the timeless synth-filled instrumental to extend Kim’s vocal range into the heavens during the stunning ad-libbed outro.
What’s especially magical about Kim’s version of the song is its explicitly queer reinterpretation. Kate Bush’s lyrics originally saw her praying to God to swap places with her male lover, to better understand his perspective. But Kim’s take on the song as a transgender woman imagines trading gendered positions for more personal reasons, adding a beautifully emotional layer to an already iconic moment in pop history.
Party ‘Till I Die
Amidst the pandemic’s real-life hell, Kim provided a stay-at-home Halloween party treat in 2020, with ‘Party ‘Till I Die’. “Looking for another high/Don’t care if it’s killing me”, she spits over a trap-infused beat. Shouting out scary movies like Lethal Weapon and The Shining, whilst casually dropping that she’ll be dressed in Vetements even in her grave, the track perfectly summarises Kim’s artistry, equal parts weird-girl and it-girl.
In a livestream prior to the song’s release, Kim also hinted that ‘Party ‘Till I Die’ is the prelude to a future Turn Off The Light 2.0. Whilst this project hasn’t yet materialised, it’s a sure-fire sign Kim’s Halloween obsession will keep her working away at more creepy content behind the scenes. And when that day comes, we’ll be rising from our graves, right onto Kim’s dancefloor.