The Long, Strange Afterlife of the Monster Mash

Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 10:20 AM

(Garpax Records)

Happy Halloween! It’s the best holiday we’ve got. Zero familial or religious obligations, free candy, and the nighttime air is filled with spooky menace. The only downside is that unlike, say, Christmas, there are less holiday-specific Halloween songs than there ought to be.

The most famous one, of course, is "Monster Mash," recorded by Bobby Pickett in 1962. It is, inarguably, a perfect song. But did you know that Pickett wrote hilarious follow-ups to it again and again in the decades afterwards?

In December 1962, there was the Christmas version, "Monster’s Holiday," which is almost an exact recreation of "Monster Mash." Same rhythm, same melody, but with added sleigh bells and slightly modified lyrics.

That formula, of nearly-exactly copying the original, would persist throughout Pickett’s reanimations of his hit. In the 1980’s, there was "Monster Rap," which perfectly rides the line between bad and enjoyably bad.  

Shock the body, shock the body body

I’ve given you a voice, now rap for Daddy.

RAPPING FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER:

Well they shot a million volts into my brain

Now I’m ready to rap like a runaway train

If you get in my way, we’re bound to clash

Cause I’m the same dude who did the Monster Mash

In the early 90’s, there was “It’s Alive,” a synth-y "Monster Mash" sequel that probably would’ve been more at home in the 80’s. Over keys and compressed horns, we meet the son of the original singer.

http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Its+Alive/r9YAA?src=5

It’s been thirty long years since I’ve walked these stairs

Down to my lab, no one cares

I’m no longer the Mad Scientist of Rock n Roll

It’s apparent to me time has taken its toll

My son’s taken over he’s quite the bright lad

Bringing life to the dead just like his old Dad

And finally, in the 2000s, "Monster Mash" was reanimated one last time, as a political protest song. Now it was “Monster Slash,” an anti-Bush, pro-rainforest protest song.

https://app.box.com/shared/j6hsucjapj

We were hiking in the forest late one night 

When our eyes beheld an eerie sight 

Our President appeared and began to frown 

Then he and his friends cut the forest down 

He did the slash 

They did the forest slash 

Usually, when you see stories about someone who had one big hit early in their music career, those stories are depressing. But by all accounts, Pickett seemed happy and unembittered about his novelty hit. And so I think there's something lovely about his frequent rejiggerings of his graveyard smash. Anyway, he died in 2007, so we're unlikely to get any more Monster Mashes, unless someone, somehow, finds a way to reanimate the man. 

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Comments [1]

Vince Hancock from Bear Lake, Michigan

If you hate the Monster Mash as much as I do, you'll enjoy the Monster Mash Bash, by contemporary horror host, Mr. Lobo: http://www.lobovision.tv/mediadetails.php?key=acff1de42011a63c14e8&title=MR.+LOBO%27S+MONSTER+MASH

Oct. 31 2013 01:55 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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