Sunday, October 31, 2010
Halloween High Notes: Music for the Monstrous Masses
As holidays go, Halloween has a lot of things going for it: distinct and easily identifiable iconography, fun and colorful traditions, and plenty of opportunities to spend time with family and friends. What it does lack, particularly in comparison to Christmas, is some kind of musical tradition. Sure, Halloween has become the de facto season for theatrical showings and fan-casted floor shows of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Evil Dead: The Musical shows signs of following a similar pattern of live performance, but a list of traditional tunes doesn't really exist for this holiday season. Topless Robot recently posted a best/worst list of spooky songs that are fit for the Halloween season; here's my brief list of creepy music that you can listen to (or watch in the case of music videos) as part of your Halloween festivities. (Also, please feel free to include as part of this list a particular Aliens vs. Predator music video from Russia, a video that I wrote about a few months ago.) Read on…
Marylin Manson, "This is Halloween": Yes, this is Marylin Manson's cover of one of the songs from the stop-motion animated classic A Nightmare Before Christmas. Yet Manson adds enough of his own distinct sound and style to this song that it takes on a new sort of life outside of its cinematic origin. Be sure to see videos on You Tube that sync Manson's cover to footage from the original movie.
Rob Zombie, "Living Dead Girl": This song may not be Zombie's best or creepiest work, but the video that was made for it is a must-see for all horror fans. It's an impressive homage to the silent film classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, complete with intertitles and German Expressionist set designs.
David Bowie, "Cactus": Bowie isn't considered to be a "shock rocker" like Manson and Zombie, but he's certainly no stranger to the world of horror. He's had roles in creepy, strange films such as The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger, and he's contributed his music to the soundtracks of films such as Memento, Se7en, and the 1982 remake of Cat People. There's also his 1995 concept album Outside, where the songs tell a futuristic, cyberpunk-ish story about a series of murders and mutilated bodies that are considered "Art Crimes". One of Bowie's most unnerving songs is "Cactus", from his Heathen album. In short, "Cactus" is about a man's romantic obsession that’s gone way, way off the deep end. I don't think that a video was ever produced for this song, but you can listen to it here.
Air, "Run": I'm not too familiar with the work of the music duo Air, but I first heard this song on a particularly grim episode of Veronica Mars ("Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner", the seventh episode of season two, to be exact) and this song has been giving me shivers ever since. You can listen to it here. Between its distorted, fragmented lyrics and creeping sound, it's one of the few pop songs that I consider to be genuinely eerie.