Disney Goes Goth: The Mouse House's Five Spookiest Songs
Netflix recently added a ton of older Disney films to its streaming service, so me and the Kid With One F have been making our way through them. While I am enjoying it, I have discovered that many films I loved as a child myself are dark as hell. The Fox and the Hound is absolutely brutal, though I do like the message that if you support a racist agenda, you'll get hit by a train.
Butt that darkness on the edges of Disney movies is certainly to be expected. Have you ever read any of the early versions of some of these fairy tales? Cinderella's sisters mutilate their feet to try to fit into her slipper, and Rapunzel's Prince Charming is thrown out of the tower and blinded by the witch. One of my first questions after seeing Frozen was, "Where's the bit where the devil's magic mirror is permanantly embedded in some kid's eye?"
Maybe that's why it's not all that surprising to see goth bands take on the House of the Mouse. Here are five in particular.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Trust in Me" Any discussion of goth and Disney as to start with Siouxsie's amazing rendition of Kaa the snake's song from The Jungle Book. Within Disney's history, it's a seriously underrated villain tune, probably because when Sterling Holloway sang it, he used a silly lisp to make it more lighthearted and fun. Siouxsie brings the song exactly where you would expect a song about hypnotizing someone into wanting to be eaten alive should be.
Current 93, "The Fall of Christopher Robin" You could argue that Current 93 isn't goth so much as the stuff that goth is made of, and that would be a valid and interesting debate. Regardless, they've brought some wonderful spook into the world on the backs of weird, droning tape loops.
Right around the time Disney was doing The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh on Saturday mornings, Current 93 was taking Pooh's bright, uplifting world and completely destroying it. This track from Island is a grim parody of A.A. Milne's poem "Vespers," which featured the line "Christopher Robin is saying his prayers."
Funnily enough, Christopher Robin Milne's life was actually much darker and stranger than you would have ever thought. While he initially loved being known as the subject of his father's stories, cruel school taunting turned him quite bitter about it. His mother so disapproved of his marriage to his cousin Leslie that she broke all ties with him and didn't even let him visit her on her deathbed. His daughter was born with severe cerebral palsy, and when he died newspapers remarked he had been a dedicated atheist to the end of his days. So in essence, Current 93 got it more right than Disney did.
Tom Waits, "Heigh-Ho" I've always thought of Tom Waits as the American Nick Cave, in that you know he deserves the label "goth" but can't exactly put your finger on why. Everything he does is like some kind of nightmare, and I guess the only reason he doesn't get more play from the spooky set is because he looks like he sounds.
He did give us this really incredible version of "Heigh-Ho" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, though I think Snow might have been a little less willing to stay in the house if the dwarves sounded like Waits. On the other hand, her life was basically a series of strange men doing strange things to her, so maybe it would actually have been comforting.
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Robert Smith, "Very Good Advice" When Tim Burton's adaptation of Alice in Wonderland came out it was good, but honestly, who cares? Burton hasn't made a good, non-formulaic film since Big Fish and no matter how pretty Alice was, all it did was remind us why the original animated film is still a big hit.
Like a lot of films these days looking to cash in with pop fans, Alice had an accompanying album full of music "inspired by" the film. It was mostly as forgettable as the film itself, except for the fact that Robert Smith covered one of the more obscure songs from the 1951 original, "Very Good Advice." It's a pretty awesome, later-Cure-sounding track that feels like a b-side from Bloodflowers, and may honestly be the only worthwhile thing to come out of the whole Burton experiment.
Of course, Robert Smith loves him some Disney...
The Cure, "The Love Cats" The first time The Cure broke into the Top 10 was with "The Love Cats, which is without a doubt my favorite Cure video of all time. Robert Smith duped a real-estate agent out of his keys to film it, and it's by far the happiest thing in goth.
The song's origin has been the subject of some debate, not least because Smith admits he was very drunk when he wrote it. Though Smith has said the song was inspired by Patrick White's novel The Vivisector, in the book Ten Imaginary Years it's stated that the true inspiration was Disney's The Aristocats. Considering that Smith sometimes works bits of songs from The Aristocats into live performances of "The Love Cats," it seems the more likely explanation.
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