We have made it to Halloween. Despite everything, I am still standing here surrounded by the microbial corpses of my coronavirus enemies like a badass anime character; sword drawn, just barely out of breath (and that’s purely from the battle, not the disease), ready to make a cool, wry comment to the great beast now standing before me as it stares at my awesomeness in wonderment upon realizing that I have not yet unleashed even a fraction of my full power.
So, how has your year been? Awful? I bet. I am starting to regret a joke I made on New Year’s Day where I wrote: “To 2020; the Year 1! Hail Adrian! 👹” with a .gif of Mia Farrow reacting with horror at the evil abomination lying in the bassinet that she had given birth to in Rosemary’s Baby. I made this happen. I did not know that Adrian was real and that he was watching my private Facebook profile. I am sorry.
As the undoubtedly depressing holiday season arrives amidst all of… this, I am reminded of the music that comes with those now formerly happy times. What that means, of course, is that I went back and reread Festive Filth from last year and decided: “You know what the world needs, a horrible Halloween carol!”
And boy have I got a treat for you! You see, Christmas has all the luck; it has candy and presents. Costumes still abound but only if you are content with dressing as an elf, reindeer or the big guy himself; Frosty the Snowman! There are large meals and pies after each one of them. Halloween just gets one night of fun and then it’s quickly swept away to make room for Santa Claus. Christmas decorations get left up for weeks after it’s over with colourful lights glowing in that bleak midwinter well into January. Jack-o-lanterns, fog machines, homemade headstones and various body parts hanging from the trees all have to be put away by the 2nd of November at the latest. What a bummer!
Halloween music is equally mistreated. Nearly the entire holiday’s library is dominated by parodies of Christmas carols or novelty songs from yesteryear. I do not want to listen to “The Monster Mash” when there is a perfectly good “Dragula” that could be played instead. Then there’s the constant use of J.S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” or Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” that have nothing to do with Halloween. If you are very lucky, you might get Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre” which actually does have something to do with Halloween, but good luck convincing a crappy filmmaker or novelty act to utilize that piece.
Of all the shitty novelties out there, one stands out from the rest, and it’s not The Shagg’s “Halloween.” (Don’t worry, I will get to Philosophy of the World soon enough. Your time is coming.) Last year during Festive Filth we encountered a bit of a recurring character towards the end of that list. Well, here to make your Halloween as spooktastic as possible, I once again present you with:
Jan Terri: Get Down Goblin
Ah yes. Jan Terri, that lovable songstress from Chicago, has blessed us with the definitive Halloween carol to take its rightful place on every radio station when they are not wasting our time with “Purple People Eater” or “Do the Freddy.” In a musical equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space, “Get Down Goblin” is another display of festive wretchedness the likes of which have not been seen since “Rock ‘n Roll Santa.” Let us sit back and enjoy this video in its entirety.
The video opens with a foreboding view of a castle while, sigh, Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” plays its opening motif, welcoming us into a world of clichés as far as the month of October is concerned. The howls of wolves and other trivial “spooky” sounds are right alongside the organ introduction as though ripped from one of those ambient CDs that were found all over the checkout aisles at Walmart in the 1990s that “edgy” dads would play on the front porch from a boombox next to a bowl of candy with a “Please Take One!” note sticking out from underneath.
Oh goodness! A ghost! Nope, just a backup dancer on her way to the basement because all basements and attics are haunted and you cannot convince me otherwise.
A Nosferatu reference closes the door on us as a coffin opens to reveal…
An anticlimactic transition. This is when the toccata finally stops and we are greeted with an aural assault of the whitest funk ever created. This is what Wonder Bread sounds like if you were to hold it up to your ear.
The chorus is in full force with nothing but the title repeated over, and over. And over some more. At least the dancers seem to be having a blast.
Jan Terri then emerges from the crypt to join the fun fronting the band and dancing with a bass guitar that her right hand never seems to actually touch.
It was a clown casket all along!
The majority of this video will either be Jan oscillating her body in the haunted cellar, or shots of stairs. I cannot stress enough just how many stairs you are going to see throughout this video. If you suffer from bathmophobia, this is your warning to turn back now.
The choreography here is unbelievable. Swaying back and forth in a basement and swaying back and forth at a piano with some Macarena gestures? And this woman still has not been nominated for a Tony? Please! Just look at this and prove me wrong, Broadway!
This dancing continues even as there is a significant chord change to a bridge section that would suggest the video cut to a new scene, but nope! This just keeps going on until the dancers’ routine is complete. No need for flow or continuity here, folks.
Jan looking menacing at an organ for no reason and without any payoff.
It just would not be a Jan Terri video without clips “borrowed” from other sources. Much like the ending of “Rock 'n Roll Santa,” where an entire clip from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is played. Yes, this is still “Get Down Goblin.” I did not change the channel to Turner Classic Movies.
I still, years later, cannot figure out if she is singing “woofie” or “wolfie” when we see the Wolfman clip. Does it matter, though? The train has already derailed and we’re just being tossed about at his point.
Jan is showing off her chops as a slap bassist. She’s so slick and fast that her hand never touches a string! I must remind everyone that, despite what we are seeing, there isn’t a single note of slap bass in this entire recording.
It’s just a fright a minute in this video! Ghosts, basements, coffins, and now candelabras? It’s too much!
The stairs are back! Oh sweet heavens, not the stairs! That flammable hairdo and all the ghostly dust sure could make this terrifying if she were to have a slight misstep. (Those candles would have to be lit though.)
We’re back! Still swinging away in the basement like it’s the Fourth of July Ball, 1921!
Now everything is blurry for no apparent reason. LSD is amazing!
This guy got down. He got down so hard, he’s six feet down! Take that, goblin!
This part is amazing. First we see Jan at the organ, getting ready to rip a solo, but as soon as we hear Bach’s “Toccata” again, she’s suddenly at a piano instead. Nobody will know the difference!
For how many times we have heard “get down goblin” at this point, I am beginning to think that there was not enough funding for a goblin costume.
Heavens no! Not the stairs again! It was too much the last several times! This is sending a shiver through the spines of elderly ladies everywhere who are about to fall and be unable to get back up! No!
The unplaying bass and the ghostly dancers everyone! Give them a hand!
The bridge returns and brings us to the cellar one last time. Dracula and Wolfman get a shout-out but there’s no copyright infringement this time around. That makes me sad. At least one more stolen clip would have just been delightful.
And, of course, we take a stroll through the old boneyard before fading away into ghosts, knowing that each and every one of us will get our place there one day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the resting place for Jan’s music career as that was reanimated a few years ago with the release of Wild One. I don’t know which part of this paragraph is more frightening.
As a professional musician and composer, this time of year tends to nag on my nerves a little more than it would for your average person. Not only am I forced to listen to abysmal songs or absolutely dreadful arrangements of traditional holiday tunes, but I also have the privilege of playing all of them at various office parties and functions for mouldy peanuts to a bunch of ungrateful suits who are too busy committing a drunken sexual assault on their coworkers to pay attention to my work or, you know, common decency and law.
In the spirit of the holidays, I want to offer my take on what I consider to be the worst Christmas music ever created. I am sure that you all will have your own opinions on this, but that’s okay.
It’s perfectly okay to be wrong.
While most list-based articles will focus on the overplayed or overly obnoxious songs that used to be piped into the malls when there were still malls, I have taken the time to search for hidden little turds of holiday spirit that have mostly gone unnoticed, and for good reason.
What I have uncovered is a massive, steaming pit of demonic cow manure, and you and I are all going to have to take a dip in it. I figured that I’d start off slow and easy, going into this feet first so the absolute evil that resides within won’t overcome us and steal our souls away in a Krampus sack. Now, to be fair, I have included some famous recordings that personally hit me as significantly terrible, but have intentionally kept them low on the list for that reason.
So, stoke your fire, marshmallow your cocoa, and be prepared for the twelve worst Christmas songs ever made! But first, a word from our sponsors.