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Weekend Earworms: Danny Elfman’s Creepy Contributions to Monstrous Music

Weekend Earworms: Danny Elfman’s Creepy Contributions to Monstrous Music

An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!

Well, it’s that time of year again: #Nerdoween here at Nerdist means it’s time to celebrate everything spooky, scary, and downright weird. When it comes to earworms, I figured I’d take the opportunity to share some music that just feels right around this time of year. I covered some of this last year with my irrational fear of puppets and obscure Canadian cartoons, but will likely make this whole month about the catchy music that still, to some degree, scares the ever-living crap out of me. I can’t think of a better way to start the month off with than a song that most Nerdist readers are at least somewhat familiar with.

“This Is Halloween”

I’m pretty sure the audience of this site is well aware of this song and its composer; Danny Elfman. These days, The Nightmare Before Christmas is absolutely unforgettable as a Halloween staple. Yet, I am man enough to admit that this song (and the movie it belongs to) still sort of scares me and probably always will. Want a flimsy, irrational reason? Well, I’ve got one. You see, I was 10 years old when The Nightmare Before Christmas was released and at that time in my life, I hated anything related to horror. There’s not one particular reason why Halloween stuff bothered me so much but it definitely had something to do with having three older brothers who listed “torment little brother” as one of their favorite things to do. So, how do you maximize your brother’s scaredy-catness on an October weekend your parents are out of town? You manage to make sure your little brother sees the same movie two nights in a row.

Well the joke’s on them, because I only slightly pee my pants at the sight of Oogie Boogie these days and The Nightmare Before Christmas eventually lead to my love of any music Danny Elfman created. Even if it still makes me a little uncomfortable. Especially Oingo Boingo.

“Dead Man’s Party”

As much as I’d like to dive deep into the early “Mystic Knights of” years of Oingo Boingo and recognize the weird genius of Danny’s brother Richard Elfman, those familiar with that work will likely understand why I’d stray away wanting to keep this article as safe-for-work as possible. However, should you be so inclined, I urge the curious readers to seek out the awesomely strange things like The Forbidden Zone. The latter years of Oingo Boingo, fronted by Danny Elfman, produced some earworms that are (on some level) incredibly creepy. It’s fairly obvious why “Dead Man’s Party” fits in this time of year, even though most might know it from the comedy classic Back To School. However, you can’t argue that this scene with Rodney Dangerfield isn’t one of the most horrifying in all of cinema.

“Nothing Bad Ever Happens To Me”

To my knowledge, there isn’t another band from the same era that made such consistently weird videos. Each featured the iconic intense stares from Elfman and some of the strangest visuals in music video history. I’ll never get used to seeing creepy faces embedded inside walls (don’t get me started on the cave episode of Punky Brewster) and disembodied heads on a platters. Even the close camera angles make each moment undeniably uncomfortable.

“Weird Science”

How could I not include this song in an article that basically serves as a way to secretly push my pro-’80s/ska agenda? I’m just disappointed I couldn’t figure out a way to share “Who Do You Want To Be Today.” Oh wait. I just did! Sharing a song like “Weird Science” is quintessentially ’80s but most viewers, in my experience anyway, seem to forget it was a modern take on Frankenstein’s Monster. Albeit a version of Frankenstein with substantially more ’80s movie toplessness, biker gangs, and one of the most horrifying puppet monsters ever committed to film.


Shit. It always has to come back to how puppets scare me. Why do I do this to myself?

What are you favorite Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo songs? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Featured Image: Walt Disney Pictures
Awful, evil, kill-it-with-fire Chet Snot Monster from Weird Science image: Universal Pictures

Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)

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