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The 5 Most Baffling Marketing Crossovers Ever Attempted

#2. Songs in the Key of X -- The Inexplicable X-Files Album

Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros. Records

Songs in the Key of X is the X-Files album released at the height of the show's popularity that didn't actually have anything to do with the show. This is made immediately apparent by the presence of what appears to be a leprechaun burrowing his way out of a tunnel beneath the Capital Building under the watchful eyes of a bunch of gargoyles on the album's cover art:

Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros. Records


The X-Files jumped many sharks, but to my memory this was not one of them.

At the time of the album's release, none of the songs on it had been featured in the show in any capacity (except for "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave, which is immediately disqualified because it showed up in just about everything filmed in the 1990s, including Dumb and Dumber and the Scream trilogy). None of the songs referenced any episodes or characters, playing the CD backward after midnight didn't turn you into a vampire or signal any orbiting UFOs, and neither Mulder nor Scully rapped on any of the tracks. Essentially, a room full of studio executives got together and said, "Let's make an album with a bunch of creepy songs on it and call it The X-Files so that people will buy it." Songs in the Key of X manages to succeed brilliantly at both of those mission statements, because it was on the Billboard top 200 for 10 weeks and it is easily the craziest goddamned thing ever recorded. A glance at the track listing confirms that everything you have ever believed is a lie:

Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros. Records
"Hey, let's make the track listing green on green!" -some fucking asshole

I know that's hard to read, so let me sum up the highlights, beginning with Sheryl Crow and Danzig. The only time Sheryl Crow and Glenn Danzig should be on the same list is if we are reading a census report, and yet they both provided songs for the X-Files album. And it's not like either one of them took a stylistic departure -- Sheryl Crow recorded a Sheryl Crow song, and Danzig recorded a song that can only be described as "motherfucking Danzig as fuck," and they were both placed on the same CD in a targeted effort to make listeners think their stereos were haunted.

Elvis Costello teamed up with Brian Eno to spin a jam that sounds like it was written specifically for werewolves in the 1980s. William S. Burroughs, legendary author of the Beat Generation, rambles out the lyrics of an R.E.M. song like he's performing an exorcism at Bonnaroo. And Rob Zombie, a man who legitimately seems incapable of contributing a bad song to a soundtrack, collaborated with Alice Cooper on a track that wound up being nominated for a Grammy and a Special Achievement Award for Most Improbable Sentence in History.

It is the daffiest compilation album ever constructed, and it has nothing to do with The X-Files beyond maintaining a general theme of skin-crawling unease. To meet that criterion, the album could've just been 60 minutes of unintelligible whispering.

Twentieth Century Fox
And a secret bonus track of whatever this guy has been screaming about since 1993.

#1. Batman Live: World Arena Tour Turns Batman into a Traveling Vegas Act

DC Comics/AKA Promotions Ltd

The Batman Live: World Arena Tour looks like Andrew Lloyd Webber really needed to masturbate and the only magazine handy was a Batman comic. It is what I imagine would happen if someone tried to re-enact Cats with a suitcase full of Batman toys in the back of Spencer's Gifts. There's no actual singing, but the trailer promises us plenty of glitter and muscle suits, and the website offers us reassuring tidbits such as "His symbol is the bat -- the ultimate creature of fear; from out of the darkness they soar with greatspeed (sic), instinct and agility" and "He's all action!" The aforementioned trailer, hilariously titled the "Sizzle Reel," also features a steady soundtrack of people applauding in a subtle attempt to convince us that we aren't watching the dumbest thing of all time.

DC Comics/AKA Promotions Ltd
Batman has selected shoulder pads that are bigger than his entire head, a tactical decision typically made
by futuristic cannibal outlaws and the Road Warriors Hawk and Animal.

The show, which is essentially a Batman cartoon as performed by Cirque du Soleil, involves the Penguin inviting the entirety of Gotham City's rogues' gallery to a villain's summit in his Iceberg Lounge hangout, where he currently has a smoke machine on loan from the Scorpions.

DC Comics/AKA Promotions Ltd

Evidently the conclusion they jointly arrive at is to assemble like one of the street gangs in West Side Story and march out of a giant fiberglass Joker head covered in black light paint in a clear homage to the directorial vision of legendary Batman filmmaker Joel Schumacher. Particularly excited about this initiative is the Riddler, who is sporting a trouser bulge like a Rolling Stones album cover. It looks like he's trying to smuggle a telescope through a TSA checkpoint.

DC Comics/AKA Promotions Ltd
That's no riddle.

The live show experience takes everything we love about Batman -- spending entirely too much money to sit in a loud, dark room for three hours -- and delivers it to us in the form of a choreographed extravaganza at a Las Vegas theme hotel, a sphere of entertainment normally reserved for juggernauts like Carrot Top and Celine Dion. It is undoubtedly a spectacle that Batman fans will never forget, but for exactly none of the reasons anyone intended.

DC Comics/AKA Promotions Ltd
"Prepare to be dazzled as Batman defeats the cast of Starlight Express to a chorus of boos!"

Tom just finished recording all of the rap songs for his upcoming cartoon show, which will begin the first leg of its arena tour next year. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

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