Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Matt's Halloween Mixtape; Part Five

When then big night comes it's time to cut loose and dance with the dead!  These next few songs are guaranteed to rock them right out of their graves, so play 'em loud...if you dare

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Yeah, yeah, we all knew this was coming.  I thought (very briefly) about omitting Thriller for the sake of avoiding the obvious, but the fact is that there's a damn good reason this song has been a mainstay of any self-respecting Halloween party for the past twenty plus years.  Nevermind the fact that the legendary 13-minute music video, directed by the inimitable John Landis and narrated by none other than Vincent Price, holds its own as an amazingly enjoyable campy horror short.  Nevermind that the Thriller dance is so embedded in popular culture that it might as well be (and hell, probably is)  taught in elementary school music classes.  This song itself is not only as perfect as any pop song ever released, but it has the devious lyrics and vibe to back up the horrorgasmic video.  It's about embracing what scares us and letting the dark magic of Halloween take over - this is Thriller night!

Stevie Wonder - Superstition

We've covered the ominous, the disturbing, the evil, and the indulgent, but I don't think any song on the playlist embodies "spooky" as well as Superstition.  The music, for the most part is straight funk.  Not that that's a bad thing, because this song grooves like few others, but it's the lyrics that really Superstition suitable for this list.  This is a song about unknown but unavoidable forces at work, and the imagery of the number 13, falling ladders, and broken mirrors does a great job of achieving an eerie, ominous tone.  The swollen, half speed crescendos during the chorus and bridge ("You believe in things, that you don't understand…") are a thing of spooky Halloween beauty.  

Rihanna - Disturbia 

Alright, so Disturbia was a massive Top 40 hit and dance club staple instantly upon its release five years ago.  Despite that (or maybe because of that), it has been relatively unacknowledged that this is a very good musical and lyrical portrayal of fear and dark self-doubt.  Much like Psycho Killer, Disturbia is sung from the perspective of a person who has begun to lose trust in their own mind.  The thumping, pulsating rhythm and dark tonality create a dreary, claustrophobic urban setting for this internal conflict.  The lyrics reference creeping, unseen insanity throughout, and the call-and-response delivery greatly accentuates the consuming paranoia.  The creepy vibe that is injected into this undeniably catchy single makes it worthy of joining Stevie and MJ as dance/pop representatives on my Halloween playlist.  

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