two spooky beats to every halloween bar

in my itunes recently added folder right now is harry belafonte‘s greatest hits. it’s ACERS and perfect for halloween because…

i can’t help thinking that there’s something slightly sinister about calypso – whether it’s the lyrics, or it’s origins in the slavetrade. or maybe it has something to do with winona ryder (slightly spooky in a nice way) dancing to calypso/calypso-influenced music in films?

first she floats up the stair-rail to the tune of ‘jump in the line (shake senora)’ in beetlejuice (genius, tim burton). then a couple of years later she plays a slightly creepy teen with an obsession with nuns and does a kitchen dance-off with her mum (cher) and christina ricci in mermaids to ‘if you wanna be happy’. both a pure pleasure to watch, as well as listen to. but still – with a sinister vignette.

creepiness aside this got me thinking how good-for-disco all this syncopated rhythms and call-and-response stuff is. when the creeps played mr belafonte’s ‘jump in the line (shake senora)’ at one of our discos last year, we looked up and saw the dancefloor had turned into a mass conga. surreal, brilliant and a wee bit spooky.

so, in honour of the musical power of calypso and halloween on sunday, here are my favourite ten calypso/afrobeat/sounds like it could be calypso-influenced songs. in no particular order:

  • “if you wanna be happy” jimmy soul/roaring lion
  • “surprise hotel” fool’s gold
  • “feeling hot hot hot” arrow
  • “right by your side” eurythmics
  • “jump in the line (shake senora)” henry belafonte/lord kitchener
  • “white sky” vampire weekend
  • “banana boat song” henry belafonte
  • “on the wings of a dove” – madness
  • “graceland” – paul simon
  • “the lion sleeps tonight” – the tokens/solomon linda

i should add that the last song on this list was covered in 1982 by a band called tight fit, who in doing so somehow managed to bottle everything bad about the 80s in one small youtube clip. well done them:

srsly? leopard skin camel toes, jungle drums and safari helmets?

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