In the before times, October was celebrated as the heart of decorative gourd season. A time when all things seemed so innocent that a little nip in the air led us to don our favorite "Autumn Sweater." The most controversial opinions were over love-hate feelings for pumpkin spice lattes on social media and which slasher film is the best.
I swear once we are out of this I will not take for granted strolling the Halloween aisles at Target, stopping to play with all those noisy decorations that I wish existed when I was a kid and trying on silly masks. Even the idea of gorging on way too many fun-sized candy bars while binging something scary on Netflix late at night during this time just sounds so lonely. And remember raucous Halloween weekends and dressing up in a costume and going to concerts? It especially feels like a lifetime ago. Am I a jaded quarantine years old?!?
Seven months into lockdown and October 2020 feels like society is trapped in a never-ending episode of Black Mirror. I find myself constantly reflecting on how life used to be and wonder about the reality and uncertainty of when we will overcome the pandemic and what the aftermath will be on our country and the world.
Real-life horrors aside, I have not abandoned my yearly love letter to spooky music videos ranging from campy horror comedy to apocalyptic dread. Here are my faves -- no tricks, just treats.
Sad13 - "Hysterical"
Sadie Dupuis released her sophomore album "Haunted Painting" under her moniker Sad13 this fall. After interviewing her recently and writing about this song for NPR Music, I learned she is a horror film aficionado who playfully brings her belief of ghosts and love of spooky themes to life through her art. Of her three horror music videos, "Hysterical" is cleverly frightening and an homage to the 2014 film "Unfriended."
King Krule - "Comet Face"
There's a lot of layers in King Krule's "Comet Face" music video. First of all, the song is an interesting collage with a menacing bass line, a noir film-like saxophone, and a subtle sample of Carla Thomas' line "Tramp" in the Otis Redding song of the same name being looped throughout. King Krule is Archy Marshall and his unconventional, gruff voice glues it all together. The video can also be seen as a collage of iconic film references like "A Clockwork Orange" and "An American Werewolf in London."
Phoebe Bridgers - "I Know The End"
Like some songs on the new Phoebe Bridgers album, "Punisher," the song "I Know The End" is about a breakup. Known for her soft delivery, the song takes a turn at the end and goes straight up metal and the video does too! Make sure to watch all the way to the end!
Wolf Parade - "Under Glass"
Wolf Parade dropped their new album "Thin Mind" before the pandemic hit, but their music video for "Under Glass" fits perfectly into this time. Made for the dark side of where our mind can go during quarantine, does the band predict our future in this video or is it just a fun sci-fi post-human romp?
Kaytranada - "The Worst In Me" Featuring Tinashe
Kaytranada's gorgeous music video for "The Worst In Me" featuring Tinashe is worth the payoff at the end to see if the protagonist finds love at first or last ... BITE!
Man Man - "Future Peg"
Man Man's delightfully frenzied music video for "Future Peg" takes us inside the head of frontman Honus Honus. He has long been writing technicolor pop songs for the apocalypse and dropping new album "Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between" this past spring seems on brand for 2020. The music video dances through fantastical vignettes ranging from men in werewolf masks, an alien hanging out with a farmer, to a skeleton clad in a fur coat that are just as nonsensically entertaining as its song lyrics.
And how's this for predicting a quarantined lifestyle, the eerie video for "Cloud Nein" that dropped weeks before lockdown has an air of kenopsia around it, which makes me wonder if Honus Honus is a lyrical shaman or maybe just a wizard?! (Kenopsia is defined as the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that's usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.)
Shame - "Alphabet"
Shame's in-your-face new single "Alphabet" explores what it takes to be fully satisfied. Band leader Charlie Steen says, "I was experiencing a series of surreal dreams where a manic subconscious was bleeding out of me and seeping into the lyrics. All the unsettling and distressing imagery I faced in my sleep have taken on their own form in the video.” Watch if you're ready to see how the hallucination plays out!
Anderson .Paak - "Lockdown"
Anderson .Paak's emotional protest song "Lockdown" was born out of the real-life horror of George Floyd being murdered by a police officer on May 25, 2020. The song's lyrics touch on systemic racism, the pandemic, and civil unrest and the video beautifully captures a day in life of protesting, from arrival to the recovery of it -- blood-dripping wounds and all.
slowthai - "feel away" Featuring James Blake, Mount Kimbie
The music video for "feel away" by grimey British rapper slowthai shows the artist at his most vulnerable. He wrote it for his little brother. This video is intelligent and haunting; both things I did not expect as the rapper gives birth in this ultimate role-reversal. In a heartfelt Instagram post he said this song is “about the doubts we have, whether it be within friendships, your partner or with our family. It’s about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes so you have a better understanding of the situation.”
Tune-Yards - "nowhere, man"
A nod to The Beatles song of the same name, Tune-Yards' "nowhere, man" is melancholy with dark themes. The video has equal parts Kate Bush and Charlie Chaplin vibes. Merrill Garbus conveyed her feelings behind the song and video saying it was created “under conditions of feeling squeezed and pushed to the brink—relatively, of course. I wanted to ask, ‘How loudly do I have to shout and sing before I’m heard?’ And the video asks, too, ‘What am I not hearing?’ We hope the music brings energy and a strong wind of encouragement to those who are shouting and singing loudly for justice right now.”
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