Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Videos #1 - The Vampire

Despite a profusion of idiots trying to call it Satan's Holiday, today's celebrations of Halloween are actually more closely related to the Christian practice of "souling," which originated in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe in the late medieval era. The poor would go door-to-door on Hallowmas (the "Mass of the Saints" or All Saints Day, November 1) collecting "soul cakes" (basically small spice cakes, about the size of biscuits or small muffins), in return for offering up prayers to the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). And it simply migrated to the evening before All Saints Day ("All Hallows Eve," or Hallowe'en) sometime in the intervening five centuries.

See? It's Christian. Now go away.

Some "High Church" sects keep trying to make it Reformation Day, celebrating the Protestant Reformation. But somehow, dressing as Martin Luther, nailing epistles to the neighbors door and running off doesn't sound like a lot of fun. (Especially because running in robes is a tricky business, as any Catholic altar boy will tell you.) Neither does dressing as Calvin, shrugging at passers-by and saying "Well, you're damned regardless."

Now, the costumes? Yeah, the Celts used to wear them to ward off evil spirits during Samhain. But unless you also douse all the fires in your house, set up a bonfire in the middle of the street where you toss the bones of cattle slaughtered as food for the winter, and then everybody lights their hearth from the bonfire (making a spiritual bond between you and your neighbors), you aren't really following Celtic practices, are you?

The supernatural associations of ghosts to All Souls Day (and eventually Halloween) provide an obvious link to other supernatural creatures, which have also become associated with Halloween celebrations. And many of the more famous monsters have become burned into the American consciousness with the passing of time, and have migrated into all manner of cultural media, including the music video.

But no monster in music videodom (is that a word?) has gotten more attention than the vampire.

(Wow. Had to go through some rhetorical hoops to keep this from being a total non sequitur. I think I made it, though.)

Eddie Money actually had a hell of a career in the 80s and early 90s - 11 studio albums, a buttload of singles in the charts - all based around a voice that sounded like he was so congested he could barely breath.

Meanwhile, in 1982, he released a single from the album No Control called "Think I'm In Love." (He apparently misplaced the initial pronoun in the title on his way to the studio. It was a tragic loss.)

Meanwhile, five years later, on the other side of the Pond, and treading in more techno/dance waters, the Pet Shop Boys released their last #1 single, "Heart."

(And in case you're curious, that is indeed Sir Ian McKellen in full Nosferatu regalia.)

And five years after that (and, in fact, five years before it became universally reviled for its use in A Night At the Roxbury), a Trinidadian-American singer named Haddaway had his first (and arguably biggest) hit with "What is Love?"

At the time of its initial release, this song hit #1 in thirteen countries throughout Europe and Asia (it only reached #11 on the US charts), and this video was on heavy rotation on MTV Europe. If you're reading this in the US, it's quite possible that you've never seen it.

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