Today is Halloween and this might be the most appropriate song. Released in 1993, it became an instant classic. It’s not quite as ubiquitous as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Bobby Picket’s “Monster Mash” but it fit’s the occasion like a spooky glove.
“Danny Elfman, who has scored many of Tim Burton’s imaginative films (Edward Scissorhands, his two Batman films, etc.), is a perfect musical partner for the somewhat macabre director, and never more so than here, where, Elfman gets to play the main character. The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated movie musical about the abduction of Christmas by the denizens of Halloween land, and Elfman sings the part of Jack, the Pumpkin King.” (allmusic, edited)
“This song certainly did not begin it’s life intended for Halloween. The lyrics even mention summertime. Nevertheless, the obvious connection between Halloween and candy has made the song slowly find its way into Halloween mixes. It is now considered a standard include by DJs worldwide. We probably need more songs about candy.
Most of our readers will remember the New Wave version that came out in 1982. The band was called Bow Wow Wow. The single hit No 9 in the UK and 22 in the USA.
The song was originally written from the male perspective. The narrator is talking about a woman named Candy. In the Bow Wow Wow version, Candy is now a male but it feels like it’s secretly woman to woman in this listener’s mind. The subtle lesbian-code did not register with the mainstream audience at the time.
But of course the story does not end there. The song was first made famous in 1965 by The Strangeloves. The band used a type of syncopation called The Bo Diddly Beat on the track. Some footage has unearthed of the band performing on TV. It is thought to be from a show called Shindig. Tony Basil might be one of the dancers in this video, though that has not been verified. See if you can spot her.
Since then a number of other artists have performed or recorded this song. A British group called Candy Girls charted with the song in 1996. Aaron Carter performed the vocal modulation for auto-tune back in 2000. I won’t ask you to listen to Charlie XCX murder the tune live but you can find that on YouTube.
You know you’ve made it as an artist if your song gets covered by The Kidz Bop franchise. Looks like The Strangeloves and Bow Wow Wow have really hit the big time now. The Kidz Bop version appears on the 2012 release Halloween Hits.
It’s hard to call a song by Devo a favorite because I have like 20 of them. This one is from the very early times of the band. The music video is delightful. The sounds and music are weird. This track and many other classics can be found on the album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!.
The unofficial “part two” of The Major Tom Saga, this song was written and first made popular by Peter Shilling in 1983. You may have heard the 2009 version by Shiny Toy Guns. Shatner released this version in 2011 as part of his Seaking Major Tom album, which also features of cover of the original “Space Oddity”, by David Bowie.
Since then Bill Shatner has actually taken a rocket to space and then returned to the planet surface safely. Of all the artists to cover this song, Shatner is the only one to actually live it out both on screen and in real life. Bill IS Major Tom.
The photo above is a still frame from Star Trek The Original Series.
Here we have the ever-present B52s in their prime. The entire concert was captured on what appeared to be Black and White 16mm film. Hardcore fans have already seen this. The typical fan may not have. I can’t think of better way to celebrate National Quiche Lorraine Day, which is today!
The song appeared on their second major label release, Wild Planet.
I got a chance to see them a few years ago. They had a kick ass back up band. The three remaining members Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson held down the vocals like they were still in their 30s. It was like a celebration.
Sadly they are on their farewell tour now. If you get a chance to see them this year, take it.