Way Back 2019

October 8, 2019 - Is Bobby (Boris) Pickett Really the Only "Halloween Artist" Achieving Noteworthy Music Sales?

The Billboard singles charts are more chaotic than ever, as the magazine struggles to find a functional formula for combining airplay, sales and streaming data; until that happens, chart entires will continue making big upward and downward jumps, with songs moving on, off and back on. In trying to make sense of it all, many non-robotic users are baffled. But Billboard apparently has a better handle on compiling music charts than its competitors; PopVortex, the website that tracks iTunes downloads, features a current survey of the Top 100 Halloween Songs, which starts off with a logical pick for number one: the 57-year-old "Monster Mash" by Bobby (Boris) Pickett, which has become the most famous of all scary-season selections.

So if you're thinking the list will be loaded with other Halloween hits spanning the decades, think again. From number two on down, it appears music purchasers are going for generic fare, headed by The Knights of Midnight, a mysterious studio group doing remakes of well-known music available strictly as downloads. Favorites like "The Purple People Eater," "I Put a Spell on You," "Tubular Bells" and "Werewolves of London" made the ranking, but they're not the original versions by Sheb Wooley, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Mike Oldfield or Warren Zevon. The chart would have us believe the Knights' anemic remakes are the top-selling versions; the group's output takes up 22 slots, while eleven others are from Elvira's Gravest Hits, a compilation album featuring obscure tunes marketed using the image of the "Mistress of the Dark" horror show hostess. iTunes seems to have made very little effort with this chart; some tracks are nothing more than sound effects of the "Scary Sounds" variety.

The late Mr. Pickett's prominence appears to be without question as all 16 tracks from The Original Monster Mash (an expanded edition of Bobby's 1962 Garpax label LP) have separate rankings, including bonus single "Monsters' Holiday," his hybrid Christmas/Halloween top 40 hit! Another bona fide original can be found midway down the chart: "Season of the Witch," Donovan's 1966 album cut that has stood the test of time, comes as a surprise not due to its inclusion but by the omission of so many other Halloween classics (the 1967 hit "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" by The Electric Prunes made the cut as well...but, well, it just hasn't ever fit into the "Halloween" category). This chart feels like it's been cobbled together using track listings from several compilation albums. The result is rather pointless, interesting only as a brief curiosity.

Monster Mash