Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings
America’s favorite zombie soap opera The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, and we’re also just a few weeks from Halloween, which, of course means zombies and post-apocalyptic imagery are creeping their way into pop culture (and every party store TV ad). With that in mind, we’ve decided not to fight the zombies and instead create this list of some of the best music videos to feature undead imagery. You’ll notice we left Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” off this list. After 29 years, it’s still the one to beat. So consider these contenders for the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for Excellence in Zombieosity.
1. Phantom Planet, “Big Brat”
For this Spike Jonze-directed vid, the alt-rockers hired Tony Gardner, who provided makeup effects for “Thriller,” to make their zombies look especially goopy in a process that took about two hours. Stick it through to the end for a romantic twist.
2. Kanye West (ft. Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver), “Monster”
For some reason, Rick Ross enjoys having a smoke in a room with dead bodies hanging all around him. This proves a bad lifestyle choice, as zombies come, clamber at the gate and grope (but don’t scratch) at, Kanye, who likes the attention. Zombies dine on bloodfeasts, Nicki Minaj seems genuinely terrifying with a sword and the only real zombie rapper seems to be Jay-Z, who delivers his lines mostly unfazed.
3. Misfits, “Scream”
Although this song hails from one of Misfits’ later, post-Danzig releases, the band was able to use the cachet of its name to sign on none other than George A. Romero — director of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc. — to helm a better video than the song deserves. In it, the ’Fits are delivered to a hospital ER, the skin having fallen off their faces, and they rise from the dead to attack their caregivers. Black-and-white mayhem ensues until the band “comes to life” for a literal twist ending that’s not quite as good as what came before it.
4. Aesop Rock with John Darnielle, “Coffee”
This 2007 Aesop Rock clip, seated as a “Thriller”-type movie titled “The Bloodletting” within the video, is all atmosphere, owing a debt to fuzzy VHS horror movies, as arms raise from graves and Carrie-like women look shocked to be covered in blood. Everything is awash in light and focused in a voyeuristic circle, and, while corny, the color saturation makes it unsettling enough to make you not want to eat anytime soon, especially after seeing the underside of John Darnielle’s nose for the final part of the video.
5. Deicide, “Homage for Satan”
There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about Deicide’s 2006 ode to the Dark Lord — they really seem to mean this, especially since vocalist-bassist Glen Benton has continued to burn an inverted cross into his forehead two decades into his career. The plot half of the video seems just as sincere, as it follows zombies working their way through city streets, devouring whomever they can…especially a wily priest who escapes their grasp for much of the video. By the end of the video, he takes on the church. Literally.