The Christmas music obsessive is a familiar specimen. Encouraged by premature holiday displays in drugstores and overeager TV commercials, this invasive species begins to play songs like “Santa Baby” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” months before the holiday arrives.
Less is known about the Christmas obsessive’s shyer relative: the Halloween music aficionado. Where does it live? How old is it? And what is it actually listening to? Because, really, what is Halloween music? Spotify shared data to help us answer these questions.
In the United States, the aficionado emerges about two weeks before the holiday. A sharp pickup in Halloween listening — as measured by the number of Spotify playlists with the holiday’s name in them, compared to playlist listening overall — becomes observable then, before culminating in a major spike on the spookiest day of them all (or, as happened last year, the Saturday that precedes it).
So where are these people anyway?
Here are the top five states in which people listened to the largest proportion of Halloween playlists over the past 10 days:
2. West Virginia
And here are the states where Halloween music was most popular 10 days before the holiday in 2017:
3. New Hampshire
4. West Virginia
Halloween is huge in Utah! This checks out for Rob Ferre, a Halloween-obsessed D.J. who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City. Mr. Ferre answered the phone on Tuesday already in costume (he was planning to attend a party as Newt Scamander, from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”). Halloween is his favorite holiday.
“It’s part of the culture here,” he said. “It’s just an escape from what we are.”
Also, according to Salt Lake Magazine, there are 56 registered organizations in Utah that specialize in the paranormal. Anne Liebroder, who compiled the list for the magazine, organizes the annual Utah Paranormal Expo and said that the number of attendees seems to triple every year.
“I think there’s a huge resurgence in more people looking for something bigger than themselves,” she said. “And they are seeking evidence to support that, so there’s a lot of ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, that kind of stuff in our state.”
When the streaming numbers are broken down by city and town, Utah still holds its own. The list of cities and towns that listen to the most Halloween music on the holiday itself also includes a famously haunted locale, Salem, Mass.; Doylestown, Penn., where the classic M. Night Shyamalan movie “Signs,” was set; Lakewood, Ohio, which is reputedly home to a ghostly bowling alley; and four Illinois towns because Illinois is terrifying.
1. Lakewood, Ohio
2. Downers Grove, Ill.
3. Macomb, Mich.
4. Oak Park, Ill.
5. Lehi, Utah
6. West Chester, Ohio
7. Towson, Md.
8. Franklin, Tenn.
9. Portland, Me.
10. Brentwood, Tenn.
11. American Fork, Utah
12. Salem, Mass.
13. Elmhurst, Ill.
14. Doylestown, Penn.
15. Sandy, Utah
16. New Orleans
17. Arlington Heights, Ill.
18. Carmel, Ind.
19. Loveland, Ohio
20. Mechanicsville, Va.
(In case you were wondering, of those locales, nine voted for President Trump in the 2016 election and eleven voted for Hillary Clinton.)
And what are they listening to exactly?
Unlike Christmas music, only in rare cases is Halloween music focused on the holiday itself. Instead, pop and rock songs that fit thematically, either because they are about movie monsters or creepy humans, are most popular. Here are the most-played songs on themed playlists in the United States from the last three Halloweens:
1. “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson
2. “Monster Mash,” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett
3. “Ghostbusters,” by Ray Parker, Jr.
4. “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” by Blue Öyster Cult
5. “Highway to Hell,” by AC/DC
6. “This Is Halloween,” by the Citizens of Halloween
7. “Werewolves of London,” by Warren Zevon
8. “Somebody’s Watching Me,” by Rockwell
9. “A Nightmare on My Street,” by D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
10. “Black Magic Woman,” by Santana
11. “Superstition,” by Stevie Wonder
12. “I Put a Spell on You,” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
13. “Evil Woman,” Electric Light Orchestra
14. “Psycho Killer,” by Talking Heads
15. “Dead Man’s Party,” Oingo Boingo
16. “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones
17. “Bark at the Moon,” by Ozzy Osbourne
18. “Freaks Come Out at Night,” by Whodini
19. “Time Warp,” by Little Nell
20. “Zombie,” by the Cranberries
O.K., but seriously: Who are these listeners?
Of the top 20 Halloween-soundtracked cities and towns, all but three are more than 80 percent white. The most frequent listeners were women between the ages of 30 and 49.
Shanon Cook, a Spotify trends expert, said that she could not explain why women in that age range were most likely to love Halloween music. (She did not want to stereotype.) But she said that the date at which Halloween listening began to pick up made sense to her. Two weeks before Halloween, she said, is when “many people start really getting into the spooky spirit.” 👻👻