Apocalypse Mixtape Part I
For me, the horror genre and music are the chocolate and peanut butter of pop culture. People have been telling spooky stories and playing music around campfires from our earliest prehistory and the two have been intertwined from the beginning. In that spirit, I'm starting an ongoing series in this space I call Apocalypse Mixtape where I'll look at some songs that touch on the same themes as the movies this site's dedicated to.
The whole idea for this project came from Ween's song "Object" off their latest album La Cucaracha. Ween is a bunch of talented smartasses who have made a career out of doing a eerily good job of aping just about any genre of music and adding in a healthy dose of twisted and often dark humor.
"Object" is no exception. On the surface, the song sounds like a sappy romantic ballad but from the first line it's obvious that something sinister is going on. It's essentially a love song from the point of view of a serial killer to his victim. I'd be hard-pressed to name another song that walks the fine line between disturbing and funny so well. Props to the youtube user who made this video that cuts together some of our favorite movie serial killers.
In the early 90's there was a short-lived microgenre in the hip-hop scene called "Horrorcore", that replaced the Scarface influenced fantasy violence of gangsta rap with the graphic imagery of horror movies. It never really amounted to much and can be directly blamed for the rise of Insane Clown Posse, but it did produce one classic hip-hop supergroup. Gravediggaz featured the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA (the RZArector), superproducer Prince Paul (the Undertaker), Stetsasonic member Frukwan (the Gatekeeper) and rapper Too Poetic (the Grym Reaper). The combination of two of hip-hop's best producers at the top of their game, lyrical matter the rappers spit with demented joy and the novelty of the form made their first album Six Feet Deep a bona fide hip-hop classic. Here's possibly the definitive Gravediggaz track "Diary of a Madman".
These days Blue Oyster Cult is probably better known for their cowbell than their actual music, but they are one of the most underappreciated rock bands of the 70's, especially for genre fans. They wrote literate rock songs about Godzilla, Canadian Mounties and Veterans of Psychic Wars, all of which avoid the Ronnie James Dio-style cheese of other sci-fi/fantasy/B-movie influenced bands of the time because most of their lyrics were written by an actual writer, rock critic Richard Meltzer. They also invented the heavy metal umlaut, which alone should secure their place in history.
Their 1981 album, Fire of Unknown Origin would prove to be their last with the original lineup and was the end of BOC's glory days. One standout track on a solid album is "Joan Collins". Written in the wake of Mommie Dearest mania, it depicted a post-apocalyptic world of junkies and Catholic schoolgirls where the future drag queen icon rises from her grave and terrorizes mankind (presumably for using wire coathangers). The pre-Mtv video also reminds us of a day when ugly guys could be in a successful rock band and the pool in your manager's backyard was considered a good location to shoot a video.