It’s time again for Friday on My Mind, our weekly blog post where we take a look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News. Halloween is just around the corner so this week we are looking at spooky songs.
Happy Halloween! As you probably already know, Halloween falls on October 31st every year. It’s not a holiday that we get to take off from work, which as far as I’m concerned is a crime. I can’t believe it wasn’t addressed during the Presidential Debates. So next day, November 1st, in many traditions is All Hallows or All Saints’ Day. It is a day that great and forgotten people who have died through the ages are honored. So, basically the name Halloween is derived from the term Hallows Eve since that’s what it is. In early Celtic tradition, November 1st marked the first day of the year. Therefore the day before was thought to be a time when the line between the dead and the living was blurred since it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. If you need a quick recap on this subject matter, just watch the video for “Thriller” - it covers this subject matter quite thoroughly. A few other Halloween related statistics and tidbits for you: according to the history channel’s site, a quarter of the annual candy sales in the US are purchased for Halloween. In 1983, the movie Halloween, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis, inspired an Atari 2600 game. The first Jack O’ Lanterns were actually turnips, but people soon realized that turnips weren’t as fun to smash.
And now, on to our video picks...
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Michael Jackson was one of a small group of artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice in his lifetime. He won three Grammys, had 13 number one singles, and had five all-time best selling solo albums, the pinnacle album being 1982’s, Thriller. Guinness Book of World Records proclaimed Thriller the World’s Top-Selling Album of All Time. The title track was the final single to be released from this seminal album. The music video is epic to say the least, and had a full life of its own beyond the song. Referred to as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the video clocks in at almost 14 minutes. It had it’s very own screenplay, which was co-written by Michael Jackson along with the video’s director, John Landis, who directed Animal House, The Blues Brothers as well as the horror flicks An American Werewolf in London and Twilight Zone: The Movie. The video won two Grammys. If you were a kid during that time, like me, Thriller was the greatest album and video ever made. Ever.
Oingo Boingo - Dead Man’s Party
When Oingo Boingo began in 1972, they were more of a musical theatre group than a band. Oingo Boingo’s name is a shortened version of their original name which was The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Dead Man’s Party was released in 1985. The title song is now a Halloween staple. The song was the biggest hit of the band’s career. A snippet of the song was used in the Rodney Dangerfield classic movie Back to School. The album also included “Weird Science”. Oingo Boingo called it a day in 1996 and Danny Elfman, the frontman has become an extremely sought after film composer due in part from the compositions he contributed to multiple Tim Burton films. He composed the score to Beetlejuice and was the voice of Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas. “Dead Man’s Party” is by far the most requested Halloween song on KEXP.
The Ramones - Pet Semetery
The song was written for the 1989 movie based on the Stephen King novel. The film starred Fred Gwynne, better known as the actor who played Herman Munster and a murderous toddler. The Ramones wrote the title song to the movie, which was included on the Original Soundtrack for Pet Semetery, as well as The Ramones’ album Brain Drain which was released during that same year. The Ramones were the first 70’s New York punk band to sign a record deal when they signed with Sire back in 1975. The fact they never had commercial success is quite scary.
M83 - Graveyard Girl
Anthony Gonzalez wrote this song along with his brother Yann about a Satan-worshiping goth girl he once knew who wished that Molly Ringwald was her sister. The video features a Molly Ringwald-like girl hanging out in a pet cemetery. That is some scary scary shit.
The Specials - Ghost Town
The song is actually about unemployment and not a town haunted by ghosts. Released in June of 1981, the song was reflective of the socioeconomic climate in England at that time. It hit number one on the UK charts. The video is footage of the band driving through the empty streets of the financial district in London.