Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.
A few days ago I read that Halloween has become the second biggest commercial holiday in America (can you guess the first??). Total American spending on the holiday is estimated to hit $6.86 billion this year. But unlike the number one most commercial holiday ever, Halloween has always missed the one crucial piece that should make any party-centric holiday complete: music.
For years, people have tried to craft Halloween playlists, only to wind up with a host of spooky-sounding shoehorns (I’m looking at you, “Devil with a Blue Dress”) and multiple plays of “Monster Mash.” But could the continuous rise of Halloween lead to an increase in commercialized music?
After a quick Google search, I came across two songs that came out this year, “Haunt You” by The Pack a.d. and “I’m a Goner” by Matt and Kim, Soulja Boy and Andrew W.K. The former appears to be a horrible attempt at cashing in on the slick, macabre styles of today’s “scene” kids, while the latter is Converse’s continued attempt to cash in on the rock, hip/hop and indie scenes simultaneously.
While “I’m a Goner” is admittedly not much of a Halloween song (the lyrics, “Believe me I said I’m a goner / I’ve known all my life I’m a goner,” are just pessimistic), Converse has made a zombie-like morgue dance party video, in what seems like just an effort to get in on those Halloween dollars. But isn’t that what really matters anyway?
“Santa Baby” wasn’t just a fun ditty somebody wrote to honor Christmas and I’d be willing to wager a pot full of clams that Bing Crosby didn’t record “White Christmas” out of his sheer joy in the holiday season. But if Halloween is so popular these days, why haven’t more corporations and record companies taken the opportunity to make some money?
It might just have something to do with Halloweeen itself. Christmas is highly commercialized, but that commercialization is based on centuries-old tradition. It doesn’t hurt that the holiday also already comes with dozens of religious songs to cover year after year (although if I hear another “Little Drummer Boy” cover I’m leaving the planet, I swear).
Halloween, on the other hand, has some semblance of Pagan celebrations thrown in with some Catholic and Celtic holidays, all wrapped up in the traditions of Irish and Scottish immigrants. It’s sort of a hodge-podge of every autumn tradition ever, and it doesn’t really come with ready-made tunes.
So artists (and professional song writers) are forced to write their own songs about the holiday. But unlike Christmas, Halloween today is about 100 percent commercialized, meaning there’s nothing remotely deeper to write about. What we end up with are songs about dying and joke rap tracks about trick-or-treating and candy corn. Still, it seems like there might be a concerted effort to finally try to capitalize on Halloween music, especially with a Hot Topic-obsessed youth aplenty in our society.
And you know, I don’t think I would really mind. A commercial Halloween music trend might just lead to an indie offshoot, which could, in turn, produce a few good Halloween tracks every few years. And sure, we already have songs like “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” and “Do They Know It’s Halowe’en?” and even Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll,” but when you want a true Halloween song, one that really captures the essence of the holiday, you just end up with “Monster Mash.” I love “Monster Mash” as much as the next guy, Music Industry, but let’s get an update already! Bring Bing back if you have to–he’ll know what to do.