So first off, has anyone told you to vote yet? Yes? That’s literally all you’ve heard for over a month? Good. Well, do that, if only so turnout is so high we don’t have to deal with the nagging again in a couple years. Drop the ballot off at a dropbox by hand. Or else.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way: It’s Halloween! The greatest holiday of them all!
I’m assuming, of course, that Trump hasn’t declared himself Holy Emperor and outlawed Halloween for violating the anti-blasphemy laws he instituted after canceling the election and dissolving the House of Representatives. I’m writing this in advance so forgive me if I missed any major catastrophes. Assuming the entire country isn’t the town from “Footloose,” here are my last five advanced-level Halloween songs of the year to round out the Spotify playlist.
But seriously, vote Biden, you jerks.
Smashing Pumpkin — “We Only Come Out At Night”
Do you remember last week, when I tried to keep the songs upbeat and party-appropriate? I’m not doing that this week. You shouldn’t be having a party and, as of this writing, the President of the United States seemed pretty confident that the U.S. Supreme Court would just hand him a win by not counting millions of ballots. The scariest Halloween in recent history doesn’t deserve to be all cheerful.
What was I saying? Oh yeah, this song is slow and ominous. But it is not, in fact, a cover, nor was it written for the soundtrack of a vampire movie. In fact, if you wore too much black in the mid-’90s, you probably owned a copy; this song was a deep cut from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, also known as the album with “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” on it. It was on Disc Two, aka the one nobody actually listened to even though it had two of the five singles.
Mercyful Fate — “Curse of the Pharaohs”
It’s just not Halloween without Mercyful Fate. That’s why I’m adding them to the playlist for the second year in a row.
From the objectively and unashamedly evil imagery to King Diamond’s four-octave vocal range, everything about them is Halloween. And they’re so good at it that they helped inspire the black metal bands for which Scandinavia is known. I guess they’ve also got other stuff going on. Snow. Fjords. Hamlet. Whatever was going on in “Midsommar.”
Actually, if the plague ever subsides and holidays are still a thing, remind me to hold a Midsommar-themed Halloween party. Our esteemed editor Roman Gokhman can be in the bear suit. [Gokhman note: I know Willis, and perhaps you, expect me to reply to this. But I cannot. I didn’t watch it. I’ve got two kids. I expect movie plot lines to be easily digestible or I will fall asleep].
Iron Maiden — “Number of the Beast”
I think the reason behind its inclusion is obvious so let’s get right to the obligatory trivia.
First, if the intro sounds like Best Value Vincent Price, that’s because that’s literally what it is. The narration is by some dude named Barry Clayton who went on to do a passable Vincent Price impression as the narrator in a cartoon called “Count Duckula,” which I’m pretty sure nobody remembers. They asked the actual Vincent Price but he wanted too much money.
Second, it was not inspired by anything impressive. In fact it was inspired by something markedly unimpressive: the sequel to “The Omen.” While “The Omen” was directed by Richard Donner, its sequel had none of the original actors and was directed by the guy who directed a version of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” that didn’t have Marlon Brando in a floppy hat. This song is its primary contribution to society.
Motorhead — “Hellraiser”
This song was cowritten by Lemmy, Zakk Wylde and Ozzy Osbourne. Both Motorhead and Ozzy released versions of it, but I never pass up a chance to include Lemmy in anything, and the video for this version includes Lemmy playing cards with Pinhead.
As far as I can tell, this wasn’t actually written for a “Hellraiser” movie, though it was obviously on the soundtrack for “Hellraiser III” since they did the whole video. That’s why it didn’t appear in my songs-from-scary-movies column, it’s debatable whether it was written for a scary movie or if it was just in a scary movie because it happened to have the same name. But this week there are no rules so you get some Lemmy in your life.
White Zombie — “Godslayer”
You may have noticed these are all metal. Well-spotted! Turns out I love metal, and it’s been a long month even by the standards of this long year, so I’m eschewing my normal attempt to hit multiple genres and just going with songs I like. For all I know, by the time this runs Trump may indefinitely postpone the election by signing an executive order banning the passage of time.
I apologize to the future if that was inadvertently too close to home.
The reason I bring this up is that I already did a Rob Zombie song last year, so White Zombie is technically cheating. But they’re a zombie-themed band, like Manson, the Misfits and Mercyful Fate. You can’t ignore them on Halloween. This is their entire deal! You might as well try to ignore the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Christmas.
Also, this is early White Zombie. Back in the late ’80s they were an unintentionally low-fi garage rock band with punk and metal influences. It was way, way before Rob Zombie found his current vibe as a groove-metal ZZ Top cover band that also directs movies of… let’s say varying quality.
Happy Halloween, happy election and may God have mercy on our souls.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.