Top 10 Misfits Songs
Misfits are the very definition of a cult band. The horror-punk pioneers enjoyed little recognition during their original existence in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but became increasingly influential as more hard rock and heavy metal bands began covering their numbers, many of which make our list of the Top 10 Misfits Songs. Today, their brand is literally worth millions, but most of the principal players in the band’s long history — singer Glenn Danzig, bassist Jerry Only and his guitar-playing brother Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein — have spent more time in courtrooms than in rehearsal rooms, constantly fighting over who could tour under the band’s name, control their iconic visuals, etc. All of which proves that the Misfits legacy, and the Top 10 Misfits Songs, is ultimately bigger than any of the musicians who contributed to its development, and will most likely outlive them all.
“Teenagers From Mars”
Proof that the Misfits didn’t have to operate full-speed-ahead to get results, “Teenagers From Mars” (from 1979’s “Horror Business” single), locked into a monstrous mid-paced groove and never let go, giving Glenn Danzig ample room to make a case that teenagers are pretty much apathetic contrarians on any given planet (“Teenagers from Mars … and we don’t care!”).
Given Glenn Danzig’s penchant for lyrics based on movies, everyone naturally assumes that the Misfits’ perennial fan favorite “Halloween” is based on the classic 1978 horror film, but look closely at the words and you’ll find no evidence of Michael Myers or his killing spree. Still, given the nebulous origins of much of the Misfits’ early catalog, this is kind of a chicken or egg scenario here.
An underrated classic unearthed in time for 1985’s Legacy of Brutality compilation, “She” finds Glenn Danzig in peak Evil Elvis form, guitarist Franche Coma growling like a tiger and the rhythm section locked in like a padlock. Adding intrigue to the mix, the song’s lyrics were allegedly inspired by notorious heiress-turned-revolutionary Patty Hearst — just the sort of dangerous woman that appealed to a band like Misfits.
The Misfits’ inspirational debt to the Ramones was never more obvious than on this 1979 single, which included knuckle-scraping riffs and Glenn Danzig copying Joey Ramone’s distinctively punchy pronunciation. The minuscule lead guitar run near the end finally snaps the uncanny resemblance, but there’s no denying the two bands’ musical kinship on so many levels.
“Die, Die My Darling”
Another romantic death letter, very much in the Misfits inimitable tradition, “Die, Die My Darling” emerged as a single in 1984, several months after the band’s initial breakup. The song is based on a U.K. slasher film called Fanatic, which was renamed Die! Die! My Darling for U.S. release, and boasted a persistent attack backed by a paranoid pulsing effect — just like an ice pick to the forehead!
Taking its name from Kenneth Anger’s controversial book that dishes dirt on famous and infamous Hollywood folks, “Hollywood Babylon” became a hypnotic psychobilly low rider. Owing as much to rockabilly goths the Cramps as it did to The Munsters theme song, this rough nugget showed that Jerry Only and the boys could comfortably break away from punk basics when they wanted.
One of a handful of Misfits songs made famous by Metallica, “Green Hell” originally appeared on the horror punks’ second album, Earth A.D. / Wolf’s Blood. It wound down that album’s raging first half with an inexorable blast of thrashing fury, all of it inspired (of course) by a classic movie — this time a 1940 jungle adventure starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Vincent Price in search of Incan treasure.
“Where Eagles Dare”
Both Iron Maiden and the Misfits wrote songs inspired by the classic WWII epic Where Eagles Dare, starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, but only one exchanged the heroic script for thinly veiled allusions to prostitution, S&M and venereal disease. Famous for its repeated chorus of “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch,’ the song also boasts the lyrical nugget “An omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal.”
“Last Caress” is simultaneously the Misfits’ most offensive and singable ditty — and that’s saying something. No one but Glenn Danzig could make such dire threats against innocent babies and righteous mothers with such romantic delivery. Still, there’s no denying the morbid poetics in the chorus’ plea for “Sweet lovely death, I’m waiting for your breath … one last caress.”
“Attitude” dates from the Misfits’ earliest recording session in 1977, and it would have appeared on their debut album if any record label was ballsy enough to release it. The band had to take matters into its own hands by including the astonishing “Attitude” as part of the four-track “Bullet” single, which was issued independently in the summer of 1978. Years later, the song was covered by Guns N’ Roses on The Spaghetti Incident?