6 Famous Songs You Never Knew Got Weirdo Sequels
Songs don't need sequels. Your reaction on hearing a song end is supposed to be "I want to hear it again!" not "I wonder what happens next." But some songs do get sequels. They're never as famous as the original, and boy do they tend to get weird.
"Monster Mash" Was Followed By A Rap Halloween Song Called "Monster Rap"
Halloween always comes with the songs "Thriller," "Monster Mash," and possibly a few others if you're really creative. "Thriller" led to such horror-themed Michael Jackson follow-ups as "Is It Scary," "Ghosts," Michael's entire real life, etc., and as for "Monster Mash," singer Boris Pickett spent the rest of his career writing one Halloween song after another. Each time, the premise was "you liked 'Monster Mash,' so here's THIS!" and each time, the song was quickly buried, never to be heard again. Here's Boris doing a monster spin on that other '60s dance craze, the swim:
Next, here's Boris Picket doing a "Monster Mash" sequel called "Werewolf Watusi." That sounds like a Family Guy joke. A good joke, which would be ruined if they push it too far and actually record what that song would be like ... or if Boris pushes it too far and actually records what that song would be like:
Boris also tried to do a yuletide sequel for "Monster Mash," in which the monsters pull a Nightmare Before Christmas:
Maybe the most perplexing is "Me & My Mummy," which isn't styled after "Monster Mash" at all. It's just Boris doing a different song but once again stuck in the Halloween novelty genre:
However, all of those follow-ups came in the years immediately following the 1962 original. To really marvel at Boris Pickett trying to wring some life out of a corpse, you have to hear what he recorded in 1985. By the '80s, the fad known as the mash was long forgotten (its greatest legacy is in fact its role in inspiring "Monster Mash"). A new craze had emerged called "rap," and "rap" sounds kind of like "mash," so Boris clearly had to bring Igor and the scientist back to educate the monster on this new musical styling:
Still working in the lab, late these nights, my eyes grown used to eerie sights
I've created a monster who can dance and walk, but I couldn't teach him how to talk
My faithful assistant, that hunchback fool, who wastes his time in DJ school
Said, 'Master, get hip! Don't be a sap! Teach the creature to Monster Rap!'
Boris kind of raps these lines, because he was kind of rapping back in "Monster Mash" as well (even Vincent Price's verse in "Thriller" is referred to as rapping). But if you're really shivering in anticipation for the full-fledged "My name's Ben Franklin and I'm here to say"-style eye-rolling rap attempt, don't worry, that comes too. "I've given you a voice, now rap for Daddy," says Boris, and the monster goes:
I got bolts in my neck, a flattop head.
I'm eight feet tall and I'm back from the dead
You see I can break rappers down to tears.
'Cause I've been monster rappin' for a hundred years
They all light up the torches, chase me through the town.
They do everything to try to track me down
But they can't keep up; they can't compete
Cause I've got the rap with the monster beat.
His verse ignores the established story (he hasn't been rapping for a hundred years; Igor taught him to rap just minutes ago), and it should go without saying that the whole song is not very good. The self-evident fact that this song is lame is undermined only by you bopping in your chair to it right now, STOP THAT. Especially stop dancing to the "shock the body-body" part, what is wrong with you?
Stan's Little Brother Grew Up And Murdered Eminem
If we're going solely by consequences on 2020s pop culture vocabulary, Eminem's "Stan" is the most influential song of the 20th century. Less known is the 2013 sequel "Bad Guy." Maybe we should have seen it coming. It was on an album called The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the sequel to the Marshall Mathers LP that gave us "Stan." Sequel albums are totally a thing, and sequel songs are only to be expected on them.
The song starts with the singer digging a grave and planning to murder someone. Sounds like Em's killing his wife again, you assume. He tells her about how songs on the radio remind him of her, how she ruined his family, and how she's now cut him off. There are also references to some unspecified him Eminem refuses to forget. Judging by how much Eminem wants revenge, it sounds like this is some guy she cheated with.
Only halfway through the third verse does the truth become clear. The victim he's singing to isn't Eminem's wife. It's Eminem himself. And the song isn't being sung from Eminem's point-of-view -- it's from that of Matthew Mitchell, little brother to the dead crazed fan from "Stan." The him is Stan, the painful song the radio keeps playing is "Stan," and the family that got ruined wasn't Eminem's, it was Stan's. Matthew drives off a bridge with Eminem in the trunk, recreating the ending of "Stan" (which itself referenced an earlier song and its prequel, which really were about Eminem killing his wife). Matthew's last words are "Now say you hate homos again" -- maybe in addition to everything else, he's gay and is punishing Eminem for his antigay lyrics.
"But wait," say those of you very concerned about plot holes. "If Eminem died, how can he sing the rest of this album?!" Verse four answers that. It reveals that, wait, neither Stan nor Matthew ever really existed. They're both just metaphors for Eminem's relationship with fame and fears of becoming irrelevant. So having listened to the song twice already for two interpretations, you're now supposed to listen a third time and see if its holds up with this third layer of meaning.
What fears Eminem expressed with this song were eventually surely realized when someone who wasn't even born when "Stan" came out later released her own song with the title "Bad Guy," to much more success. Alternatively, the fears were much more directly realized this past April, when someone who was six when "Stan" came out -- the same age Matthew Mitchell was then -- broke into Eminem's home to kill him just like in the sequel song.
The murderous intruder's name? Matthew, of course.
The Devil Went Down To Georgia Again, Maybe With A Secret Plan
Every story you've ever heard about musicians jamming against the devil -- from Futurama to Guitar Hero III to "Tribute" by Tenacious D -- is based on the Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." It sounds like some ancient myth that's been told a hundred different ways, but no myth inspired the band. Instead, for their tenth album, they just realized they were missing a fiddle song, so they wrote this one. At first, it was going to be about a normal county fiddle contest like the ones Charlie had beat as a boy, but they decided to raise the stakes slightly and make it a duel against Satan instead.
So, that's the song that you hopefully knew about already. But then in 1993, Daniels wrote a second song about the devil's Georgian holidays. Charlie Daniels did not do the vocals on the sequel. Instead, we guess they pulled in whatever session musician happened to be in the studio at the time -- they went with some dude named Johnny Cash.
It's been ten years since he lost to Johnny, and now the devil wants to give it another go:
In the darkest pits of hell the devil hatched an evil plan
To tempt the fiddle player, for he's just a mortal man.
"The sin of pride," the devil cried, "is what will do you in.
I thought we had this settled. I'm the best that's ever been!"
He visits Georgia and immediately takes back the golden fiddle Johnny won the last time they met. So, instead of offering a deal like the devil has done for time immemorial, he just straight-up robs the guy, which isn't very sportsmanlike. Johnny must beat him again to get the fiddle back. The real surprise here though is that Johnny still has the golden fiddle all these years later. We always thought the plan was to sell it and then buy a bunch of chicken in a bread pan, because gold is worth a lot but isn't really a good material in terms of string acoustics.
The song ends with Johnny once again making his old fiddle sing and everyone cheering about him being the best. But this time, we don't have a conclusion where the devil admits defeat, and this raises a troubling possibility. See, the devil said that the sin of pride would be Johnny's undoing. And the punishment for sinning is hell, regardless of whether you lose or keep your soul in an unrelated fiddle contest. Pride isn't a sin because it's unjustified; it's just a sin because those are the rules. So even if Johnny can play music better than the devil, he's still sinning by calling himself the best, and so when he dies, we guess he ends up going to hell after all as punishment.
And in hell he stays. Until this past July, when Charlie Daniels died at the age of 83. Charlie then descended in the hell for three days, during which he fiddled Satan into defeat once and for all, defeating death and opening the gates of heaven permanently.
The First 'Response' To "Baby It's Cold Outside" Is As Old As The Song Itself
Duets between a man and a woman are always fun to perform, whether it's "Doin' It" by LL Cool J or "All I Have" by LL Cool J. And if there's one thing more fun than putting on a performance of perennial holiday favorite "Baby It's Cold Outside," it's rewriting the song to deconstruct the original. For example, you've got a redone version to be all about advocating consent (or, depending on how you think, it can sound like it's making fun of people advocating consent). Or you'll get Jimmy Fallon on SNL singing a version about how much he wants his date to leave.
But the original twist version of the song came, oh, roughly one hour after the original did. Both appeared in the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter, for which "Baby It's Cold Outside" won the Best Song Oscar. Early on, we get the version we all know, played out by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban:
If you ever insisted before now that oversensitive people today are wrongly maligning this wholesome song, well, watching it in context doesn't help your argument. The date trying to flee didn't even like the guy before this evening -- she only agreed to come because of complicated rom-com shenanigans. The choreography involves him repeatedly pulling off her hat and coat, her drink was clearly alcoholic from the start (meaning, her "what's-in-this-drink" fear is more sinister than just detecting booze), and oh yeah, it turns out he's lying about the storm. It's not really cold outside!
The plot progresses, like so many '40s films do, with both male leads getting kidnapped to throw the results of a South American polo match. Then at the end, a different couple, Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, reprise the song:
Here, it's the man wanting to cut the date the short and the woman wanting to seduce him. But that's not the only twist. After singing a verse, he remembers that, hold on, it's actually his place, so he pulls off the woman's coat he mistakenly donned and switches to trying in vain to kick her out. So, "baby it's cold outside" becomes the plea of a woman not wanting to get thrown out, not a line seducing someone to stay.
Of course, it's not actually less rapey to flip the genders, even if that's the conceit of the movie's joke. It fact, this version is more rapey: It ends with the woman pinning the guy down, pulling covers over them, and turning off the light with him still resisting. This in 1949, under the censor-happy Hay's Code (everyone gets married afterward, so evidently all's good). Incidentally, "Baby it's Cold Outside" was a late addition to the movie -- originally they were going to have a song called "(I'd Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China." The censors cut it because they figured the title meant "(I'd Like to Bang You on a) Slow Boat to China."
35 Years After "September," Earth, Wind & Fire Were Back With ... "December"
A couple years ago, Taylor Swift recorded a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "September." People treated this as blasphemy. How DARE she do a soulless version of such a classic! And she randomly changed the most holy date of "21st night of September" to "28th night of September" for no good reason, to make it about some personal anniversary of hers! The selfish, thieving crone! This is the worst banjo-related assault since Deliverance!
The actual members of Earth, Wind & Fire were somewhat less distraught. Yes, Earth, Wind & Fire are still very much around to comment on things, as we know every 9/21 when they pop their heads out of the ground:
While they said the Taylor Swift cover was "as lethargic as a drunk turtle dozing under a sunflower after ingesting a bottle of Valium," they also said it was nothing to get mad about. Old songs aren't sacred. You can't hurt them by recording something new. Which is also why they're fine with, say, releasing a remix of "September" this past year, or redoing the song with Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick for the Trolls movie.
Then there was the Christmas album Earth, Wind & Fire released in 2014, Holiday. Along with songs like "Joy to the World" and "Winter Wonderland," they presented us with "December":
Do you remember the 25th night of December?
Love was changin' the minds of pretenders
While chasin' the clouds away
And you can guess how the rest of this goes. They're going to change the lyrics to be about Christmas. Probably references to kids sledding and waiting for Santa and exchanging presents ...
Our hearts were ringin' in the key that our souls were singin'
As we danced in the night, remember?
How the stars stole the night away
Wait, hold up. These are the exact same lyrics as "September." Did they ... did they really make that one change and then rerecord of the rest of the original song, exactly the same as it was?
Hey hey hey
Ba de ya, say do you remember?
Ba de ya, dancing in December
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day
They did. They really did. Okay, but what about that one line in the original that goes "Now December found the love that we shared in September"? At least they'll have to update that, right?
Now December found the love that we shared in September
Only blue talk and love, remember
The true love we share today
Huh. Guess not. Really, this is version is a huge troll, which means something coming from the band that, again, went on to redo their song for the movie Trolls. We want some effort put into our Christmas-themed songs, dammit. Where's Boris Pickett and "Monster's Holiday" when you need it?
The Weirdly Conservative "Return To Harper Valley"
"Harper Valley PTA" is the classic country-pop song about the time the PTA accused widowed Mrs. Johnson of sleeping around. She responds by showing up in a miniskirt to a meeting, where she reveals that everyone else there is also sleeping around. Or is a drunk. Or both; fans still debate whether the wife who "seems to use a lot of ice" is an alcoholic, is suffering from domestic abuse, or is screwing the ice man.
The very final lines of the song reveal that "Mrs. Johnson" was actually the singer's mother. Along with offering the sex-positive message of "my mamma was a hoe; it's no big deal," this reveals that, if you do the math, the whole thing must have happened ten years ago -- which meant something, since 1958 and the song's release year of 1968 were very different times in terms of American sexual attitudes. Supposedly, the story is based on something that really happened in songwriter Tom T. Hall's hometown growing up, which would actually date it somewhere in the '40s.
The song was huge, even inspiring a movie and a TV series. But as the years went by, singer Jeannie C. Riley stopped being the '60s go-go dancer you see in the above video, and she became a born-again Christian and a gospel singer. And so in 1984, she recorded another version of the song, to tell you about Harper Valley having changed a few years down the line.
"Return to Harper Valley" is sung from the point of view of Mrs. Johnson, a Mrs. Johnson who has now given up on miniskirts and men, what with her now being a grandma. And it seems that the other members of the PTA have also reformed. The husbands and wives are faithful to one another, and the one boss who was sleeping with his secretary has now married her. The drunks have died, and this is perhaps portrayed as justice served. Then Mrs. Johnson checks what's happening with the kids these days:
Then I saw a man who gave a cigarette to some small kid too young to smoke
He was a full-grown man and he was set up in the parkin' lot sellin' dope
Well, I walked around the place and saw the drummer sniffing powder up his nose
Then I walked out through the parking lot and saw these kids were takin' off their clothes
It's all a bit more extreme than a grown woman dating and wearing short skirts ever was, so Mrs. Johnson is shocked. She decides to fetch her gun and shoot the place up.
Okay, she doesn't actually go through with it. But just the fact that she even thinks for a second:
They were drinking beer and popping pills and acting like they were all having fun
I got so mad I thought at first I'd go back to the house and get a gun
... well, that's a bit troubling.
In the end, Mrs. Johnson doesn't commit mass murder. She turns to the Bible, thinks back to how much she "hurt" people with her own promiscuity years ago (no elaboration provided), and resolves to now use the PTA to save the children's souls, using God's love. Personally, we'd recommend instead winning the souls from Satan in a fiddle contest. It's much more fun, and it works every time.