Apocalypse Mixtape Part VIII: Contagium
As Mark pointed out in a recent blog post, every single one of us here at Bloody Good Horror has a deep and abiding love for zombies that only grows stronger as sub-par zombie movies, comic books and video games keep flooding the market. It's in that spirit that Apocalypse Mixtape comes clawing out of its grave in a stained undershirt and tightie-whities with an installment dedicated entirely to zombie songs. Hopefully this will help to tide you all over until Diary of the Dead 2 hits cinemas... well, goes direct to DVD. Do they still make VHS?
Note: This time around to spare you all having to watch a “video” some kid's made in Windows Movie Maker with a Google image search and an episode of Dragonball Z, if I couldn't find a decent video of a song I've just gone with a streaming MP3. If you'd prefer to listen to the songs while watching a slow pan of a promo shot of Jason Schwartzman intercut with animated tentacle sodomy and you're brave enough to out yourself on the site as an complete freak let me know in the comments and I'll go back to the old format of all videos all the time.
Phantom Planet “The Living Dead”
|Phantom Planet - The Living Dead|
|Found at skreemr.com|
Phantom Planet is best known as the band that used to be best known as the band with that kid from Rushmore before they became best known as the band that does the theme song for “The OC”. This track, “The Living Dead”, is the kind of thing zombies probably put on to get pumped before a big brain-eating session. It was first released as the only original track on the “indie rockers play the oldies” soundtrack for the video game “Stubbs the Zombie”. The band gets bonus genre cred points for quoting the original tag line for “Dawn of the Dead” in the song as well as for the Spike Jonze-directed video for another song of theirs, “Big Brat”, which is essentially a 5 minute tribute to “Night of the Living Dead”.
Lord Jellicoe and His Calypso Monarchs “Zombie Jamboree”
|Lord Jellicoe & His Calypso Monarchs - Zombie Jamboree (Back to Back)|
|Found at skreemr.com|
These days everybody argues about “fast zombies” and “slow zombies”, completely forgetting that there's a third type of zombie that actually predates the Romero movies. In fact, an argument can be made (and I'm nerd enough to make it) that the creatures we commonly call “zombies” are actually ghouls. The originally Afro-Caribbean conception of a zombie wasn't a mindless reanimated brain-eater- it was a mindless reanimated servant. Just go watch any zombie movie pre-NOTLD. Or “Weekend at Bernies 2”.
Anyway, “Zombie Jamboree” is a Calypso standard that's been covered by artists like Harry Belafonte , the Kingston Trio, and former “Where in the World is Carmen Santiago?” house band/early 90's hair disasters Rockapella (check out the old clips, I dare you). Some versions of the song flirt with necrophilia (who says the Kingston Trio wasn't edgy?) but in this recording, by Lord Jellicoe and His Calypso Monarchs, the dead have risen neither to eat brains nor to toil at a sugar plantation. These zombies would rather drink rum and dance all over the tropical island of, erm, Manhattan.
Fela Kuti and Africa 70 “Zombie”
|Fela Kuti - Zombie|
|Found at skreemr.com|
Okay, so the zombies in this song are just a metaphor for the Nigerian military circa 1977, but as far as I'm concerned this is the greatest zombie song ever (sorry Cranberries). Bob Marley and Che Guevera might show up on more t-shirts and stickers affixed to bongs but Fela took the role of rebel/musician/revolutionary to the extreme. It takes major cajones (and more than just a smidgen of delusions of grandeur) to build a fortified compound/recording studio, surround it with armed guards and declare it an independent country, but Fela did just that, only to be raided by 1,000 armed soldiers who set fire to the compound, beat the inhabitants and threw Fela's mother through a window to her death.
“Zombie” is a long song and the lyrics don't kick in until about halfway through, but if you're not familiar with the afrobeat genre there's not a better place to start. As the song goes on and on, building into a frenzy it's easy to see how it could cause riots in Ghana which led to Fela being banned from entering the country.
Jonathon Coulton “Re:Your Brains”
For our last song we'll leave behind the roots of zombism and return to the modern-day zombie craze. Jonathon Coulton became a web celebrity with his song “Code Monkey” and his collaborations with writer/Daily Show Correspondent John Hodgeman. Earlier this year he went on to greater fame for his song “Still Alive” which was featured in the end credits of the video game “Portal”. “Re: Your Brains” is an impassioned and well-reasoned argument in favor of letting a corporate-speaking zombie and his cohorts eat your brains. It's a testament to Coulton's geek celebrity that he wasn't even involved the video featured above- it was actually made for DragonCon.