Because the world is already scary enough, here are some not-scary, uplifting songs for Halloween 2017
Just living in the current American political climate is scary enough, here are some songs that help forget that we’re all potentially going to get wiped out by Nuclear War/Climate Change/White Supremacists/Mass shooters/etc
When things get too scary for me I turn to the stage and screen and the songs that make them shine. I grew up in musical theater, so I understand better than most that the truest way to solve a problem is to sings about it. These are the songs I find myself turning to when the world gets a little too much to handle.
“Everything Is Awesome” – Tegan and Sara, The LEGO Movie
This song is an inherent lie, but it is great to sing to yourself when you keep hearing that the legislative branch of your government basically wants to kill you. Also, it won an Academy Award.
“Lucky Day”- Aileen Quinn, The Frog Prince
I’ve been humming or singing this to myself since I was four years old. This 1986 TV classic might not be the best Jodie Foster movie in the world, but the soundtrack is damned inspiring.
“You’re Welcome” – Dwayne Johnson, Moana
When I got my hands on the soundtrack to this modern Disney classic it consumed my world for a solid month. The former WWF champ does wonders with this Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned gem; it is by far the best tune in a more-or-less perfect songbook. Once my wife threatened to quit speaking to me I decided to put this song down for a minute, but it was my decision.
“Everything’s Alright” – Yvonne Elliman and Ian Gillan, Jesus Christ Superstar
Even Jesus Christ needed a break, and Mary Magdalene and the disciples do their best to invoke a chill pill. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have written some pretty sweet stage musicals, but Jesus Christ Superstar is by far my favorite and this is the melatonin your weary head desires when it’s time to just go the fuck to sleep.
People are Good – Daniel Norgren – I’m gonna like any song that’s titled “people are good” and then goes ahead and starts with the line “people are bad” – that’s the kinda guy I’ve become lately. Someone called Daniel Norgren “Sweden’s Jeff Buckley” but here here speaking to some kind of other deep truth. There’s just something so clearly earnest and honest about this song. It gives me hope.
Koala – Damien Jurardo – I saw Damien Jurardo at a little church in St Paul this weekend. I’ve always loved this song, and it struck me as he was playing it that I think it’s a wistful & sad song about being a dad. I’m a dad, and this song speaks to something weird and wild about how you hope your kid will see how much you love them, someday.
“Rise Above” by Black Flag
From the opening moments of static-y, squealing feedback and the oompa-pa-pa drum kick off (complete with the secondary jingling of Robo’s male jewelry) into Rollins’s raspy bark “Rise Above” is an anthem to lift the hairs on your neck. The Flag didn’t often trade in heroic sing-a-longs and really they don’t here either. “Laugh at us behind our backs/I find satisfaction in what they lack” and “Society’s arms of control” are hardly bog-standard sloganeering. The lyrics in particular swing in an awkward way, the counter-intuitive work of someone who lacks the tools attempting to communicate. Not that it diminishes any of the impact. The band pounds, Rollins yowls and all of us are climbing up over the wall in spite of ourselves.
Every time I hear this song I’m ready to lower my shoulder and lift whatever impossible weight is set in front of me. You probably have never heard Pete Biasi singing this at the top of his lungs at 3 o’clock in the morning while you try and push a dead van up a freeway off-ramp but I bet if you had you would recognizing the galvanizing power of shouting “Rise above! Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!” when the chips are down. I’m not saying that the van suddenly became weightless and flew up the ramp and we were all out of immediate danger just because of some song we were singing.
But that is exactly what happened.
Peelender Z – “Mad Tiger”
Peelander Z is the opposite of fear.
OutKast – “Player’s Ball”
Though “Git Up, Git Out” might be the more constructive alternative from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, “Player’s Ball” feels more escapist.
Lee Dorsey – Everything I Do Gon’ Be Funky
Lee, I wish I believed that everything was going to be funky from now on but I have a feeling things will get worse before they get better
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Bellbottoms
Fuck yeah, bell bottoms. Everything’s gonna be fine, right? Right?
“Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space” By Spiritualized
My go-to “pretty” song, even if it is a bit morose. “All I want in life is a little bit of love to take the pain away.” Indeed.
“It’s Not the End of the World” by Super Furry Animals
I was going to pick “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” by the same band, but decided that might run counter to the “not depressing” theme, so went with this gem.
“Get By (Remix) Ft. Mos Def, Jay-Z, Kanye West, & Busta Rhymes” by Talib Kweli
One of my favorite songs of all time featuring the warm, aspirational beat and an array of the biggest stars of the last decade rapping about getting through tough times. Open the windows and crank this song on a warm fall day and try not to get a boost.
“The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” by Liars
One of the most crushing-yet-beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. “If you need me, I can always be found.” Good reminder during these scary times to be there for each other.