It’s once again October, and we all know what that means. Cold weather, fall-leaves, and most important of them all: Halloween! Ghouls, vampires, ghosts, zombies, superheroes, and supervillains everywhere. What is there not to like about Halloween. It’s just a really fun day where everyone can literally dress up as whatever they want and won’t be judged as strictly by others! There’s also really cool Halloween songs that are played, but my favorite one would have to be “This is Halloween” from the Disney movie, The Nightmare before Christmas by Tim Burton. We’ve all probably seen this movie or at least heard of it. I believe this song definitely has some Gothic aura to it.
First, let’s take a look at the visual aspect of this song. The song is first played in the very beginning of The Nightmare before Christmas after the introduction from the narrator. The movie perfectly provides the audience with the frightening setting this movie takes place in. In Halloween Town, where “pumpkins scream in the dead of night”, they introduce many of the horrifying monsters, such as the ghosts, a creature under the bed, zombies, vampires, demons, a werewolf, witches, Oogie Boogie, skeleton, and many other creepy creatures to emphasize the horror element of the movie. For example, Oogie Boogie sings “I am the shadow on the moon at night; filling your dreams to the brim with fright,” and the clown sings “I am the clown the tear-away face; here in a flash and gone without a trace.” Not only that, the orchestra and percussion accompanying the singers also play with an eerie tone. But what exactly does this mood have to do with Goth?
One of the most apparent things we notice from the song and the movie is that there is a very dark atmosphere. The primary colors used in the scene are black and white, which is the same colors associated with the Gothic subculture. Skeleton Jack, the main character of The Nightmare before Christmas, has a white, pale face because he is a skeleton and wears a black suit, and many Goths apply make-up to achieve a similar facial appearance and also wear black. Goths find beauty in the dark, and this song and scene portrays exactly that. I personally also found some beauty in the darkness from “This is Halloween”. For instance, I found the dead trees, tombstones, and Skeleton Jack frightening yet awesome. Honestly, I hate horror, creepy movies, but this movie provides something different. The creatures of Halloween Town enjoy scaring and surprising each other and includes an endless supply of dark imagery. Yup, I find this kind of darkness that Tim Burton brings really cool.
Believe it or not, Marilyn Manson made a cover of “This is Halloween”, and currently, it has over 22 million views on YouTube, about 20 million more than the original. I know, I know. Many of you guys would not consider Marilyn Manson’s music as Gothic but more as industrial rock/metal. However, just listen to his cover, and you’ll realize how closely it resembles to the Gothic culture. His voice, first of all, is almost demonic creating an even darker atmosphere than the original song. In the end is what really captures the darkness of his cover for me. Manson chants “La, la, la, la” in a very discordant and shrill voice imitating the corpses who were singing this in the original. Then, he ends the song with a hoarse yet terrifying, soft scream. This sent shivers down my spine. I don’t know how darker this song can get when he adds a totally different level of fear and eeriness to this song. Thus, I believe he had many more views than the original because he added an even darker element to the song with his piercing vocals.
Both versions portray the beauty in darkness well. Although watching and listening to the scene of “This is Halloween” portrays this concept better, listening to it is just fine. The creatures find beauty in something that may be very peculiar to a normal human being: scaring and surprising each other. Goths are similar in the way that they try not to seek approval from society. They are introspective and reject the status quo. The culture revolves around being different. So why listen to “This is Halloween” on Halloween? Although the song is from a Disney Movie, this soundtrack will definitely give chills to anyone especially if one listens to Manson’s version. Halloween is the only day that probably everyone seeks beauty in the darkness, and this song entails exactly this idea.