Top 10 Monster Songs
Classic-rock history is filled with monster bands, monster albums and monster hits, but what about songs written about actual, you know, monsters? That’s the question we asked ourselves — because we lead sad, sad lives — and then proceeded to research thoroughly, debate extensively, cross-reference carefully and finally sign off in triplicate — all for the purpose to bring you our list of the Top 10 Monster Songs.
“Eye of the Zombie”
We begin our troll through the Top 10 Monster Songs with this rather less-than-terrifying entry, courtesy of John Fogerty. Who knows what John was alluding to in this mid-’80’s solo single’s occult imagery (oh yeah, probably the owner of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s record label), but with the walking dead more popular than ever in today’s popular culture, “Eye of the Zombie” should fit right in.
We’re not entirely sure what sort of monster is being talked about here, but we’ll accept “Almost Human” purely on faith because, for one thing, the legendary rocker singing it did so while disguised behind his famous “Demon” makeup and, for another, we’re pretty sure ol’ Gene Simmons ain’t technically human either! Of course we jest — no one here wants to get on the bad side of Kiss’ God of Thunder.
“Feed My Frankenstein”
We move on with our Top 10 Monster Songs countdown with a master of the form, and the godfather of shock rock, Alice Cooper. Far be it for us to ignore the many nightmares Cooper has welcomed us into over the course of his remarkable four-decade-plus career, but this popular latter-day single does reference perhaps the most famous man-made monster of all time.
Alice Cooper’s first benefactor, Frank Zappa (he signed the fledgling future shock rocker to his first recording contract with his Straight Records), directed the bulk of his energy towards amusing and abusing listeners with his half-comic/half-caustic brand of avant-garde satire. But his allegorical testimonial to that big, scary ape, King Kong, gains him entry to our list on the strength of the six versions covering Uncle Meat’s fourth vinyl side.
“The Thing That Should Not Be”
Metallica were pretty much the world’s heaviest heavy metal band, circa 1986, so writing songs about just any old monster simply would not do. Instead, the Bay Area foursome dug deep beneath the earth’s crust (well, H.P. Lovecraft’s spine-shivering Cthulhu mythology, anyway) to unearth a cyclopean beast so mind-numbingly horrifying (part human, part octopus, part dragon) that simply seeing it could drive mere mortals insane. Such a monster would indeed be “The Thing That Should Not Be.”
“Scary Monsters’ (And Super Creeps)”
Has any artist in classic rock history worn as many different guises as David Bowie? From his formative flirtations with both astronauts and androgyny (but not androgynous astronauts), through to fully realized creations such as Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, Bowie has always delivered compelling visuals to back up his astonishing musical transformations. And while 1980’s Scary Monsters did not relate to any one specific character, its sinister vibe and enigmatic lyrics are monstrous enough for us.
“Bark at the Moon”
The interesting thing about Ozzy Osbourne is that, for years on end, he embodied the perception of rock and roll bogey man for scores of concerned parents, uptight clergymen, and right-wing conservatives – not to mention members of Tipper Gore’s book circle. And while Osbourne never shied away from gleefully exploiting such perceptions with classic heavy metal songs like “Mr. Crowley” and “Diary of a Madman”’ the monster we’re perhaps most fond of is his the ultra-shaggy werewolf gracing the cover of his third solo album.
Only in the ‘70s could an instrumental song built around nothing more than telepathic band musicianship and virtuosic (and, at the time, radically innovative) synthesizer runs get to No. 1 on the pop charts. Why, the very concept sounds as alien today as Edgar Winter’s band looked at the height of their ‘70s pseudo-glam glory. Needless to say, such a monstrous accomplishment makes the one and only “Frankenstein” eminently eligible for our list of Top 10 Monster Songs.
“Werewolves of London”
With the irresistible “Werewolves of London,” rock’s eternal prince of black humor, Warren Zevon, convinced everyone there’d be nothing as fun as hitting the town and howling at the moon with their friendly neighborhood lycanthrope. Indeed, no other furry critter ever benefited from such wit and wisdom in song. And how about the musical pedigree behind this song? Zevon on vocals and piano, Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass, session wunderkind (and co-songwriter) Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Jackson Browne producing.
Who says size doesn’t matter? With so many positively magnificent classic rock songs about monsters to choose from, the only reasonable strategy for picking No. 1 was going with the biggest – that being Blue Oyster Cult’s riff-heavy tribute to everyone’s favorite towering mutant lizard, erm, thing. We speak, of course, of the one and only “Godzilla,” a veritable behemoth that, last we checked, is the only monster on this list who’s stomped Tokyo to a pulp with its bare feet.