Lola’s Musical Halloween Countdown: The Finale

Alright kids, it’s the third and final edition of Lola’s Musical Halloween Countdown, providing your spooky soundtrack for the month of October. Don’t be too sad, however! I’m trying to talk Madam Lola into a similar endeavor for the month of December!

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October 21: A bit of internet difficulty has prevented me from posting today’s entry until now. But, here, again, is a Who Knows? Wednesday! In my younger years I had quite the obsession with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Though the series could certainly get repetitive, the utterly unique atmosphere and combination of morose and harshly surreal and sarcastic narration were too fascinating, particularly when combined with a mystery that continued to unfold, never the entire way, but just enough to make you wonder if it ever would. Followers of my weekly column may be able to see how Snicket’s unique writing style was a definite influence in the development of my own. Well, did you know that number one villain of the series, Count Olaf, has an official villain song? It’s true! When it came time to bring the novels into the world of audiobooks, actual human Daniel Handler (known for being Snicket’s associate and representative, but in reality the man known as Snicket himself) talked to longtime friend Stephen Merritt, of band the Magnetic Fields, about getting each release to have a song written especially for it. All 14 songs (one was replaced with another in a later printing) plus an additional exclusive were eventually released in a standalone album titled The Tragic Treasury. Here is the song for the very first book, “The Bad Beginning”, featuring, as sometimes occurs in works by the Magnetic Fields, Lemony Snicket himself on the accordion.Yes, that’s actually him!

“People say, ‘Do these books have any messages for young people?’ And I say, ‘Of course, it’s one of the most important lessons in all literature. The lesson is: if you see Count Olaf, scream and run away. You don’t get that from CS Lewis’-Daniel Handler

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October 22: When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls…whenever candle lights flicker…where the air is deathly still! That is the time when GHOSTS ARE PRESENT! Practicing their TERROR with GHOULISH DELIGHT! WELCOME, FOOLISH MORTALS, TO YET ANOTHER DISNEY DONNERSTAG! I am your hostess…your ghost hostess…and if you didn’t already know this about me, my love for Disney’s the Haunted Mansion runs deeply enough to require psychoanalysis and the regular recommendation of a few more pills in the morning. But did you know that at Disneyland Paris, the Haunted Mansion’s story is different? Yes! Located in its own land, which combines the storylines for its version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and what it labels as ‘The Phantom Manor’, the delightfully creepy tour takes guests through the lush estate of a rich railroad baron whose daughter becomes engaged to a suitor he bares the utmost disapproval in. On their wedding day, the father murders them to prevent true love from ever conquering all. All the mourning spirit of the daughter can do is attempt to ferry you through safely lest her father take a bloodthirsty eye to your own lives…

Nope, I’m not making this up at all. It’s gorgeous, it’s creepy, it features narration by the one and only Vincent Price doing what he does best. Some day, I will go. For now, I can enjoy this gorgeous, officially-sanctioned suite of the attraction’s music. Those familiar enough with the Grim Grinning Ghosts motif of the original Haunted Mansion will be delighted to hear this unique spin on the work.

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October 23: Egads! Another Fearful Friday! Perhaps it’s a sign of the apocalypse! This popular and classic tune, notably used in everything from The Walking Dead to An American Werewolf in London, speaks of the end times without succumbing to the cliche of one horse devouring another. If that wasn’t enough, it’s catchy! Happy Wednesday! WATCH YOUR BACK.

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October 24: We’ve reached the penultimate Storytelling Saturday, and as I expect you’ll be so busy on Hallowe’en itself that you won’t give a thought to the countdown, I’ve saved the best for second-to-last. What you are about to experience is the most spooky, the most suspenseful, the most unabashedly intense, and, by far, the most important story you will hear this entire month. Listen, so that you might one day save yourself from a particularly gruesome fate…..Happy one week left, listeners.

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October 25: Our final Soundscape Sunday. Danny Elfman is generally regarded as a master of the weird when it comes to his film scores. His general ties to Tim Burton expound this further, and for so many, it really just isn’t Hallowe’en without a trip into “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” But many are unaware that he was once asked to write music purely for music’s sake…no film attached! His journey into concert music, the wonderfully titled “Serenada Schizophrana,” begins with the following track. And, what luck! Youtuber kattemallo has every single piece in the work uploaded, just keep clicking when you’re done with the piece! Though not written for use with a film, it ended up being added to one anyway, IMAX’s Deep Blue Sea. One more fact—a later track, which has Spanish lyrics, is about a person having a thought and then completely losing it, and then searching everywhere for it. Elfman has said in many interviews that a lot of his writing process takes inspiration from the everyday sounds around him, such as a car passing by or air conditioning unit going off. This, however, means that he can lose ideas just as easily as he gains them, a true sense of frustration for him.

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October 26: My greatest regret with this countdown is that I had the category of Mundane Monday, but thankfully, this is the final one. Seriously, though… What’s so scary about this cover? After all, it’s the same lyrics as always!

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October 27: Our our last excursion into TV land unearths the following fanmade gem….a villain song for a horde of fruit bats from a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode. Oddly, they aren’t even really villains–they’re a hungry pest that the mane characters decide to try and settle with mind control and violence. Good stuff! Eurobeat Brony, creator of this wonderfully fun piece, also concocted the original version of “Discord!”, which, as I stated here in a previous rant, is the victim of less press than its popular cover, as well as a great deal of unfair negative comparisons. If somehow you haven’t heard it already, I’ll post it below. It’s definitely a favorite.

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October 28: Who Knows? Wednesday is at its end, but what a finale! Did you know that that that terrifying spider you saw this morning as you were putting on your bra has a theme song? You know the spider I’m talking about. The one that shows up right when you’ve gotten comfy with your hot chocolate and are cuddled up on the couch. The one that scuttles across your math textbook confusedly, minding its own business like the demon spawn it is. What’s that? You want to know why I didn’t just put THIS in Mundane Monday? C-C’mon, man…spiders are serious business….I’m not overreacting at all!

Fun Fact: This song is noted for being possibly the first appearance of the death metal growl in music—even though it’s not even death metal!

Pun Fact: Look at the band. Now look at the day of the week. Now groan.

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*blows a kiss* It’s October 29, darlings. Our final foray into the Disney Vault. This is going to require a particularly forceful spell…

…FIGITUS…ATENCIO!

Ah! This is from an invigoratingly forbidden tome…Commonly translated as ‘The Emperor’s New Groove,’ a closer meaning to the old tongue would be….’The Kingdom of the Sun.’ Yes, Disney’s goofy South American buddy comedy was originally a much darker tale—certainly much more serious. The transition from its initial creative vision to what we got instead was not a happy process, particularly for the artist Sting, who had been hired to write the music. This is perhaps the most notable artifact salvaged from the wreckage…the villain song for Yzma, who was not, in fact, a mad scientist, but instead a dark sorceress. Wonderfully, Ertha Kitt herself did in fact record the piece before it was scrapped. I’ll let the plot here surprise you with its own words, and perhaps, if we all believe hard enough, some of that old magic will be rekindled—–and Hallowe’en will last forever. Best listen a few times extra just in case

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October 30: It’s okay. There’s no need for words now. I understand. Let me do all the talking, okay? For a Fearful Friday Finale, here’s a little something you know, but a little different than you remember it. Happy All Hallow’s Eve’s Eve.

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October 31: I’m rather sad to see this project go, but let us put away our sadness and embrace the manic joy and fear of the day! Here’s one more Story Saturday to sate your Hallowe’en lust, just in time for you to head to the festivities the evening will bring. And though this story is ending, another is beginning…..I am pleased, if also terrified, to announce that I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year, and unlike the last time, when, despite my great proclamation of participation, I barely made it a few days in, I am contractually obligated to complete the challenge this year—it is essentially a senior project for my health class, my graduation depends upon my forcing myself to write every day as an outlet for my mental health. But let’s not worry about that for now! Let’s worry about bats, skeletons, houses (and bays) that you should never ever enter, alone or otherwise. Let’s worry about laughter and tears and memories we will never forget, even if we want to. Let’s make memories worth remembering. On the most morbidly-curious day of the year, allow us our memento mori. For if we remember how fragile this existence is, how easily we can lose our money, our jobs, our homes, our loved ones, our lives….if we remember all of this, perhaps, somewhere deep in the shroud that we have spent so much time suffocating in—perhaps somewhere in that darkness we can remember a sound. A smell. And we can grope our way towards somewhere slightly less damp. Maybe with windows just thin enough for light to poke through their marbled blue stained glass, casting upon the path in front of us images of truths we had forgotten. Perhaps, when we eventually die in the catacombs we’ve been exploring, it will be with a hand at our side. Or a plaque on our wall. Or even just a secretive, sly smile—a smile that need not have any meaning for anyone but ourselves, but holds as much meaning as anything a museum could possibly ever acquire. I hope you find what you’re looking for in that darkness. More than that, however, I hope whatever awaits in that darkness finds YOU. You have my blessing, listeners. Madame Lola Cloudburst, signing out one last time. Happy Hallowe’en!

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