Listen. Children. Night. Music. Make.

October 7, 2014 — We’re still figuring out the Halloween carol (for lack of a better term). We just don’t have a long tradition of Halloween music. So far, the cannon seems to be exactly "Monster Mash," "Thriller," "This Is Halloween," and "Werewolves of London." Sure, we’re trying other things—spooky ambient music, horror movie theme songs, goth rock, any pop song with the word “monster” in the lyrics, but most of the time I’d take one of those Halloween soundtracks of werewolf howls, creaking doors, and witch cackles over the average Halloween party mix.

But I’m happy to tell you I’ve solved the problem with one CD. This CD.

Just kidding. I’m not going to do that extremely Internet thing where I pretend something silly is a gigantic deal. At least not this time. But this CD means…something…to me.

See, I didn’t get this CD off eBay or at a yard sale. It’s not something I picked up just to turn into website fodder. This thing is part of my personal Halloween history, and a real survivor at that.

It’s called "Rhythm and Boos," and on it are 9 tracks meant to give your [kids’] ears something to do during the season between the 5,000 cover versions of "I Put a Spell on You" that are out there. But what sets this CD apart from a grocery store rack of Halloween harmonies is what’s printed on its silver surface: the General Mills Monsters—Count Chocula, Frankeberry, and Boo Berry.

I got this CD one Fall morning from a box of General Mills monster cereals in, according to the date on the CD, 2001. Somehow, I’ve held onto this thing. Held onto it despite the MP3-ification of music and enormous media libraries that fit in pockets and large streaming music catalogs, as well as four different moves covering three states. I honestly don’t know how.

Especially since I remember the CD being terrible.

But before I get to that, it must, must, must be mentioned that this CD isn’t merely an artifact of cereal promos long past, it’s also an artifact of Halloween TV long past. See, the disc was a cross-promotion with the Fox Family Channel and its 13 Days of Halloween. The 13 Days of Halloween first aired in 1998 and was an incremental part of the mainstreaming of a long Halloween Season. Today, the annual television event is still around, but the channel was sold years back and is now the ABC Family channel and is now called the 13 Nights of Halloween.

I haven’t listened to this CD since I first got it over a decade ago, so here are my responses to each track now, in this 2014 OTIS Halloween Season, 13 years of jadedness later. Click on each link to hear or download the track yourself.

Track 1: Count Chocula Intro

An extremely promising beginning to the CD, with 40 seconds of Count Chocula himself, backed by an atmospheric thunderstorm, pushing all three monster cereals like a good mascot, encouraging us to eat it while listening to the CD. If the Count hosted this CD rather than just introduced it, I’d dig it a lot more.

Track 2: Fox Family Halloween Countdown Theme

This electro-dance-whatever tune is kind of hard to listen to, but seems like it needs to be here if it is indeed the Fox Family Halloween Countdown Theme. I poked around on YouTube to see if I could verify that and found a 1999 promo for the event that did use a version of the song, a much better version that skipped the lyrics and the incessant beat and opted for a more eerie sound that is something I might in fact listen to while shoveling dyed bits of soggy oats and marshmallows in my mouth.

Track 3: It’s Spooky in Here

“It’s Halloween ya’ll. Halloween in the Digi-world.” That phrase was the only part of the CD that I remembered. To this day, I think of that phrase every time someone says, “It’s Halloween.” And since it’s the Baha Men performing the song, it brings back memories. Terrible, terrible memories. Memories of a time when nobody knew who let dogs out and people thought it was the best lyric since “I’m too sexy for this shirt” and then realized it was silly but kept using it in an ironic way, inadvertently perpetuating the phrase. Obviously, this is also a commercial for the Digimon cartoon. Other than that, I could see this on the soundtrack of a made-for-TV comedy horror movie.

Track 4: I’m Gonna Scare You

This song is about the titular character of the cartoon Angela Anaconda and her plan-aconda to scare her nemesis Nanette Manoir. This was never really a cartoon I watched, and I find Angela Anaconda’s voice annoying. That bothers me. When you’re annoyed by a cartoon voice it means one of one things: 1) You’re old.

Track 5: Big Wolf on Campus Opening Theme

OK. Finally. Huge nostalgia rush. I watched this Canadian comedy about a high school werewolf religiously. It felt like one of those shows that I was the only one watching. I actually used this song myself three Halloween Seasons ago when I visited the grave of the first movie werewolf. The track is only 31 seconds, and leaves off the werewolf howl at the end for some reason. As soon as I heard this, I paused the CD and watched half a dozen episodes on YouTube. Like this one with the late Corey Haim:

Still a funny show, mostly thanks to actor Danny Smith (who played sidekick Merton Dingle), who also happened to write and perform the theme song.

Track 6: The Haunt of Room 402

A monster-mash style song with Dracula and Igor voices about a monster on the loose at a school. The Kids from Room 402 is another cartoon I’ve never seen, but I’d watch a Halloween cartoon special that featured this song.

Track 7: It’s Spooky in Here (Junkanoo Mix)

A remix of track 3. Once upon a time, kids, musicians would do this to fill out the track numbers of a thin album to make it seem worth buying. One thing about the death of the album that I don’t miss.

Track 8: Halloween Overture

One of the better tracks on the CD, but I’m not sure if it was specially made for it or used on the 13 Nights of Halloween promo spots. Kind of like the Beetlejuice theme…with banjos.

Track 9: The Sounds of Halloween

Speaking of filler, here is 17 minutes of spooky sounds, which is acceptable on a Halloween disc. However, this one sounds less like a haunted house and more like a haunted jungle. Like they took a nighttime animals soundtrack and threw a few wails and creaks over top of it. Weird.

Regardless of the quality of the CD overall, it’s a great, great idea that they should have followed up annually, like Kids Bop or Now That’s What I Call Music, even if it’d never get us any closer to a Halloween music cannon.

At least we’ll always have this gem from the Bing Crosby of the Halloween carol: