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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Tuesday Top 10: Favorite Horror-Themed Songs

Day of the Woman's thought-provoking post yesterday on the intersection between music and horror has put me in a musical state of mind. And so, for today's Tuesday Top 10, I've compiled my all-time favorite horror-themed songs. Now, some of these tunes are scary, and others are just steeped in the horror milieu. So scariness was not a requirement. Rather, these are the top songs that come to my mind in connection with the genre I adore so much...

10. The Time Warp
What would the list be without a number from the greatest horror musical of them all. Just a fun, anthemic song that epitomizes what The Rocky Horror Picture Show is all about, and why it has gained such an infectious fan following. Plus, I just love Magenta's Marlene Dietrich impression.

9. Black Sabbath
The title song of Black Sabbath's self-titled first album is a genuinely terrifying song. Just listening to Ozzy wail, "Oh no, no, please, God help me!" gives me goosebumps. A sinister song that was probably partly to blame for legions of parents freaking out over their kids listening to this band.

8. Thriller
How could I not include Michael Jackson's pop ode to zombie culture? Plus, the video was even directed by John Landis. Big-time extra points for the rockin' appearance of the one and only Vincent Price, delivering perhaps the greatest rap of all time. "The funk of 40,000 years," indeed. V-Price could spit mad lyrics, yo.

7. Werewolves of London
God bless Warren Zevon. This staple of 1980s classic rock radio is the kind of song you just can't get out of your head. Plus, you've got major references to Lon Chaney Jr. and Sr., and the title itself is Universal-inspired. I'll never give up hope of one day seeing a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vick's. Hopefully, his hair will be perfect.

6. The Thing That Should Not Be
Metallica be some horror freaks, with a particular obsession with the work of H.P. Lovecraft. And this song is their magnum opus to the Cthulhu mythos, creepy as hell and grim in the extreme. In fact, I recommend you check out this excellent fan video created for the song--pointed out to me by the Vault's resident Lovecraft expert, RayRay.

5. Ghostbusters
Rumor has it that Ivan Reitman wanted Huey Lewis & The News to record the title song for his movie, but when they turned him down, he brought in smooth jazz crooner Ray Parker Jr. and got him to basically record a Huey Lewis-style song. Whatever the case may be, there is probably no one born between 1970 and 1980 who doesn't know all the lyrics by heart...

4. Surfin' Dead
God damn, but this is a great song by The Cramps, featured prominently in the soundtrack to The Return of the Living Dead. In fact, that flick is filled to the brim with rockin' horror tunes, so I figured I'd limit it to just one. In reality, I could probably fill this entire list with them if I wanted to.

3. Don't Fear the Reaper
Such bleak subject matter for such a mellow-sounding song! Blue Oyster Cult's biggest hit pops up in the original Halloween, and of course was also the opening theme to the miniseries of Stephen King's The Stand. Forty-thousand men and women every day...

2. The Monster Mash
So corny, but so much damn fun. Who doesn't love Bobby "Boris" Pickett's iconic novelty smash of the 1960s. A surf-tinged tune that conjures up all the innocent fun of the "monster kid" era. I can play this one for my kids 20 times in a row, and they'll still keep asking for it. In fact, it would've been very easy to slap this one up at number one. But I had to be brutally honest with myself and pick my true favorite...

1. This Is Halloween
It figures that Danny Elfman, formerly of Oingo Boingo, would come up with this deliciously eery theme song for Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The song is a perfect homage to childhood terrors, and sets the scene excellently for Burton's unique vision. This one always reminds me of what it's like to be a kid hiding under the covers from vampires... Plus, Marilyn Manson also did an awesome cover of it!

Some inevitable runners-up:
  • "I Put a Spell on You" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus
  • "Love Song for a Vampire" by Annie Lennox
  • "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo
  • "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails
  • "Nature Trail to Hell" by Weird Al Yankovic
  • "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson
  • "Summer Breeze" by Type O-Negative
  • "Mad Monster Party" by Ethel Ennis


Monster Scholar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monster Scholar said...

Come on! Time Warp should totally be in the top three. But perhaps my opinion is skewed because I'm a RHPS freakazoid.
"It's just a jump to the left..."

BJ Colangelo said...

time warp = #1. buttttt i'm bias.

jpelliott said...

Nice list but Rob Zombie at least needs an honorable mention for his whole catalog of music.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

Some other possible runner ups:

Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield (forever linked to The Exorcist)

Voodoo Voodoo by Lavern Baker

The Attack of the Giant Ants by Blondie

Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde

Astro Zombie by The Misfits

Chainsaw by The Ramones ("Texas chain saw massacree, took my baby away from me!")

For what it's worth, I know it's not as popular and all, but I like BOC's "Godzilla" a shade more than "Don't Fear the Reaper." But that's splitting hairs.

Good selection in any event.

B-Sol said...

Ooh, BOC's "Godzilla", another good one.

Yes indeed, BJ-C, you are a bit biased! But look at it this way, I always pick a big one for my number 10--see, I learned in the mag biz that you should never open a list with a clunker.

Jonathan said...

I know you missed Evil Dead the Musical, so I have to throw these out there: Look Who's Evil Now, All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons and Do the Necronomicon are all awesome songs!! I'll loan you the CD one of these days!

Jonathan said...

Also, I know it's a parody, but Weird Al Yankovic's Nature Trail to Hell in 3-D is a perfect send-up of all the cliches of the slasher genre.

gord said...

I hate to leave your least favourite kind of comment, but I've always really enjoyed stuff by Goblin. Sure their stuff isn't as catchy or radio-friendly as everything else here, but it's always awesome regardless. Especially their work for Tenebre and Phenomena.

Risky Bizness said...

Hey B-Sol I have been reading your blog for a while but this is my first comment. Just wanted to tell you this blog is awesome keep up the good work. I had to comment on this post today because i am a dj for a living and also a self proclaimed horror fanatic haha and this list is amazing
Currently watching
The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

RayRay said...

Superlative list! Black Sabbath, Metallica, AND Warren Zevon all at once! I do believe I have the vapors.....

....if only Led Zeppellin had a horror themed song........

Mr. JPElliot does have a point about Rob Zombie. However, if so, then about every thrd Iron Maiden song and about all of Slayer's songs deserve consideration. In light of this, you have done well, my man.

And in parting, as good as The Time Warp is, I was always partial to Sweet Transvestive. I see you've met my faithful handyman...he's a bit brought down because when you rang he thought you were the Candyman...

John Sunseri said...

Ooh--very nice list! I can't argue with any of them, but if you expand the list to twenty or twenty-five, I'd like to nominate 'Pet Semetary' by the Ramones, 'He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)' by Alice Cooper, and, of course, the creepiest song ever written--'Every Step You Take' by the Police.

Oh, and the Blob song you posted a few days ago.

TheKappa02 said...

What about The Dickies Killer Klowns From Outerspace theme? Or the music in Phantom Of The Paradise and Mad Monster Party? Frankly I think those two are better then Nightmare Before Christmas.

BJ Colangelo said...

RayRay-You ARE a sweet transvestite.

B-Sol said...

Damn, you guys all have some really awesome suggestions, I wish I expanded it to the Tuesday Top 20! And BJ, why would you go blowin' up Ray's spot like that? Mrs. RayRay might be reading this!!

oducerproducer said...

Time Warp should most definetly be higher, but much like others on here, i'm a RHPS whore, i got a tattoo, and i dress up as Frank. Deciding between that and Sweet Transvestite is a tough call. It may be more sci fi oriented but Science Fiction Double Feature is also awesome.

Surprised not to see any Rob Zombie or Misfits on the list aswell.

B-Sol said...

I LOVE "Science Fiction Double Feature".

Anonymous said...


Where's Skinny Puppy?

Ms Harker said...

I love it! Your number one rocks, my favourite of the lot for sure!


RayRay said...

For the record, I am not a transvestite, sweet or otherwise. I just like songs about them. Like Lola. Thank you.

oducerproducer said...

Nothing wrong with begin called a sweet transvestite, i'm called it 2 nights every few months, i dress up as the Sweetest Transvestite of them all at RHPS.

While they're not my favorite, i still enjoy listening to em from time to time, Wednesday 13 and his associated bands.

Anthony Hogg said...

In the last few years, I've made mixtapes to celebrate Hallowe'en.

Here are the criteria I follow:

1) They must explicitly deal with horror themes.

I'm not talking about the use of horror imagery to convey some kind of social or political message or whatever (like Skyhooks' "Horror Movie") but ones that deal with monsters and such, with no need for metaphor. Just good ol' horror fun.

2) The songs have to be by bands that are horror-themed themselves. Ones that revel in the aforementioned type of music. Sure Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, et. al, make use of horror imagery, but that's not what I was going for.

Anyway, here's the tracklist I conjured up last year. Note, I kinda cheated on my criteria with a few of them:

1. Michael Jackson - "Thriller"
2. Maniac Spider Trash - "Graveyard Bash"
3. Deadbolt - "Psychic Voodoo Doll"
4. Reverend Horton Heat - "The Halloween Dance"
5. Rob Zombie featuring The Ghastly Ones - "Halloween (She Get So Mean)"
6. Demented are Go - "Stake in the Heart"
7. The Creepniks - "Zombie Stomp"
8. The Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13 - "Oogie Boogie Baby Baby"
9. Misfits - "Monster Mash"
10. Ghoultown - "Fistful of Demons"
11. Nekromantix - "Trick or Treat"
12. Thee Invaders - "I Wanna Eat Your Brain"
13. Zombina and The Skeletones - "Nobody Likes You (When You're Dead)"
14. Blitzkid - "Pretty in a Casket"
15. Kim's Teddy Bears - "Voodoo Doll"
16. Bat Attakk - "Zombie Disco"
17. Send More Paramedics - "Zombie Crew"
18. Calabrese - "Backseat of My Hearse"
19. Gein and The Graverobbers - "The Phantom of Route 44"
20. Horror of 59 - "Frankenstein Returns"
21. North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative - "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?"
22. The Afterdarks - "Scream Baby Scream"
23. Wednesday 13 - "Till Death Do Us Party"
24. Serpenteens - "It's Halloween!"

Tiffani said...

Great list! I'm glad to see that Warren Zevon made it on there. But, I would have loved to see some Misfits as well! xD

B-Sol said...

I know, The Misfits deserve a spot! But they just have so many good ones, it's hard to settle on one....

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