Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Top Ten

I’m going as a hypocrite this year. A few days ago I waxed lyrical about how I can’t make lists, but yet here I go compiling one. I thought about making a top ten favourite Halloweenish films, but I decided it would be too hard to think of ten I really loved. I settled on music, and my top ten spooky-songs. I set myself some conditions, though. There would be no horror film themes (buh bye, Exorcist) and absolutely no blindingly obvious selections (see ya, Monster Mash). Finally, Thriller is forbidden. Now, without any further ado, I now present to you…

Top Ten Sp0o0o0o0o0o0oky Songs that Remind Me Of Halloween

10. The North American Halloween Prevention Initiative - “Do They Know It’s Halloween?”
See previous post.

09. Elvira - “The Monster Rap”
My sole cheesy selection. I’m really a sucker for awful raps and you can’t get any more brilliantly awful than the Vogue-style one that we’re treated to halfway. The rhymes are toe-curlingly awful, but they’re delivered with such gusto you can’t help to go along with her. It’s probably overplayed to hell in some places, but not in my circles.

“Baby there's a monster livin' inside of you, and me!
Baby there's a monster livin' inside just dieing to be free!”



08. Bette Davis - “I’ve Written A Letter To Daddy”
I’ve restricted myself on the movie themes, but sticking this one in was too hard to resist. Is it creepy? Hilarious? Depressing? All three,really, which is where the disconcerting feel comes from. “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” is a favourite horror film of mine (although it’s really not scary at all) and this is the centrepiece. Davis’ creepy ballet-poise, total fervour and terrible warbling voice, with her shadow flickering on the wall, add up to a strange viewing experience. When the camera cuts away to Joan Crawford looking confused and uneasy, we know exactly how she feels.

“I've written a letter to Daddy, his address is heaven above”



07. Sonic Youth - “Death Valley 69”
This whole album could be included on this list. From it’s cover picture of a giant pumpkin to the general Atumnal air, Sonic Youth have never been more season-appropriate. Starts with a howl and a grumbling guitar riff before descending into an art-rawk duet about murdering your girlfriend (or something). It’s a mess, but great to sing along to.

“Deep in the valley
In the trunk of an old car…”



06. DJ Shadow - “Endtroducing…”
I wanted to include David Lynch in here somewhere and thought about including some of the Twin Peaks music. I decided against, though. Instead, I’ve chosen an entire album; the fabulously dreamlike collection of samples by DJ Shadow. It’s an astonishing listen, feels like a messed-up nightmare and ends with The Giant (from Twin Peaks) intoning “It is happening again…it is happening again…”.





05. PJ Harvey & Nick Cave - “Henry Lee”
A little part of Halloween is kind of romantic, don’t ya think? Polly Jean and Nick Cave were probably the strangest/best-suited rock ‘n roll couple ever. Their relationship didn’t last, but it left behind some wonderful music. Solo albums by each detail their love and the subsequent break-up, but it’s hard to get any better than this duet. The harmonies are exquisite, the sense of doomed love palpable (even though the lyrics have nothing to do romance) and in the video, the pair come across as a pair of courting vampires.

“And with a little pen-knife held in her hand
She plugged him through and through
And the wind did roar and the wind did moan”



04. Tori Amos - “’97 Bonnie & Clyde”
Scary. Scary. Scary. Out of all of my selections, this is the one that freaks me out the most. Not just the idea of Tori covering a Eminem song, but the actual song itself is terrifying. She descreses the tempo to a dreadful slowness, wallowing in the domestic violence storyline. Her voice hs never been more full of evil and dread. The Hitchcockian strings in the background, the hint of violence that enters her voice, the keening chorus….*shiver*

“Your dad'll wake her up as soon as we get to the water
Ninety-seven Bonnie and Clyde, me and my daughter”



03. Buck 65 - “463”
Not a conventional choice, perhaps. “463” could be about baseball, could be about small-time life, could be about broken dreams, or could be about nothing at all (which Buck himself has admitted). Still, songs have personal meanings and I immediately associated this with All Hallows Eve. He references Halloween in the first couple of lines and then riffs on a number of topics, but it’s that reference that sticks in my head.

“Why, when I was a kid,
Playing in the ditches
Living in fear of satan and the witches”




02. Talking Heads - “Psycho Killer”
Something a little more funkier, after the last couple of rather depressing choices. Amazingly, this was the first song David Byrne wrote with the rest of the band and it’s one of their most iconic songs. Singing a song from the perspective of a serial killer isn’t anything novel, but it’s Byrne’s pop-eyed delivery and that bass-line that make this song great.

“I can’t sleep because my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire.”



01. Siouxsie and the Banshees - “Halloween”
Obviously. It couldn’t be anything else, really. My favourite band with a song that perfectly encapsulates the holiday. The Banshees, despite their name and style of dress, were never the cartoonish shlock-Goths they’re sometimes made out to be. Their music is rarely morose or overtly-introspective (ie: they have nothing nothing nothing to do with Marilyn Manson or My Chemical Romance) but sometimes the season calls for a bit of spooky self-indulging.

"Trick or treat
Trick or treat,
The bitter and sweet..."



Happy Halloween, all.

13 comments:

Ninquelosse said...

Have you heard any Patrick Wolf? He'd definitely be in my top 10 halloween songs list somewhere. His first two albums, Lycanthropy and Wind in the Wires, are especially creepy - not nice to listen to on your own. But also totally gorgeous - especially Wind in the Wires which, like its title, is all cold and windy. Think being tortured by a demon fiddler on the edge of a cliff. Have a listen on RadioblogClub, it's good stuff.

Emma said...

I really like that Siouxsie and the Banshees song. It was the first one I'd ever heard, and my friend asked me if I knew them, and I was all "Susan and the Banshees? What?"

Good times.

RC said...

excellent call on the bette davis...whatever happened to baby jane is certainly morbid! it's an exceptional film!

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