I love witches. Some of the greatest kid’s books and movies were about witches, Angelica Houston as a witch that hates children and wants to turn them into mice? Genius.
So, because apparently, wizards are so much hotter with the young kids nowadays, I decided to pit them against each other in a gigantic song show-off. Let’s go.
1. Blog Party – Hunting for Witches
Oh Christianity, the wonders you brought to our civilisation, like the hunting of women to deal with problems like plagues, adultery and sickness. It’s awesome to blame a witch for shagging the neighbour’s wife (she totally made you do it!) or washing yourself clean of the assumption that a plague might be a punishment from God (medical science wasn’t a thing back then) because no one sinned in those pious settlements except the WITCH. Good times.
2. Queens of the Stone Age – Burn the Witch
You could make a whole horror movie soundtrack out of Qotsa songs, especially their second and fourth albums have certain songs that are sinister to the bone. It’s a shame that “witch hunt” has been adopted by the conservative right-wing media whenever they say something outrageous and hateful and actually get slack for it but I still like to think that the original phrase is a good reminder how alienation, paranoia (and quite often oppression) can turn every group of people into a hateful fork-swinging mob. Oh, those were the golden days.
3. Biffy Clyro – Some Kind of Wizard
I have a friend who is crazy about Biffy Clyro. Me? Not so much, though I was totally in love with their weird side-project Marmaduke Duke. But they do pretty solid rock and given that there never can be enough songs about wizards (as a thousand metal bands in the 70s and 80s taught us), I give them a pass.
4. Kate Bush – Waking the Witch
This is one of my favourite Kate Bush-songs, the beginning was actually my alarm-clock-sound for quite some time. I love Kate’s low-key songs but this one is one of the reasons why she is a lot more than just the typical songwriter. She goes all out to create this weird sense of chaos that is unsettling but draws you in at the same time. She is also the greatest dancer.
5. Bat for Lashes – The Wizard
It’s obvious that Natasha Khan loves Kate Bush (as many of today’s interesting songwriters) and her debut has the sort of magical undertone that Bush somehow created even with songs that thematically were working-class hymns. Khan, however, has a very mystical approach to most of her songwriting and weaves those themes into the music as well. She is also one heck of a showman…erm, -woman.
6. Melvins – Blood Witch
You know what’s outrageous? There is no horror movie called “Blood Witch”. In times when things like “Gingerdead Man” exist, I expected a solid low budget trash-fest with a witch that just vomits blood all over everyone and thereby turns them into pumpkins. Get it together, film makers and make it so! And then you can use this epic song for the soundtrack. I am pretty sure, the Melvins would love to give it to you.
7. The Decemberists – The Queen’s Rebuke
Thank goodness for “The Hazards of Love” which is not only one of my favourite concept-albums ever but also introduced me to the almighty Shara Worden who sings circles around everyone on this record. I love the whole idea of an evil forest-witch, although I always assumed that forest witches were kind of neutral because nature is neutral. But hey, I take it if it gives me a lovely fairy tale.
8. Frank Zappa – Drowning Witch
You know, you have to respect the audacity of the church back in the days combined with the stupidity of the people. I mean, their tests whether someone was a witch or not were absolutely beautifully Catch 22. Get thrown in the water and drown – congrats, you’re not a witch and although you’re dead, at least you’re not going to hell (well, unless you did something sinful which was pretty much everything back then). Get thrown in the water and miraculously survive – gee, sorry, you’re a witch and we’re going to torture and kill you (and yes, you will go to hell).
9. Mogway – Wizard Motor
My favourite wizard is quite possibly Merlin in “The Sword in the Stone”. Sorry Harry Potter and even sorry Gandalf but that dude was the coolest wizard ever, he even wore bermudas! Why do I think of him when talking about a song called “Wizard Motor”? Because of all the fantastic machinery Merlin had in his house, there were some lines about future technology being the modern magic that were pretty genius if you look at it from a pedagogic perspective (in contrast to Potter, who never even once talked about the greatness of mini-fans, sandwich-makers and freaking space-travel!).
10. Sneaker Pimps – Small Town Witch
My idea of a small town witch is a bored teenager with too much make-up and the Smiths on her iPod. Back in the days, a lot of women that would eventually die due to witchhunts, those gals were actually the modern-day doctors because they knew about herbs and healthy berries and potions (not the ones with the green smoke-cloud that forms a skull) to help people with their ailments. However, when someone caught syphilis because they cheated on their husband or wife, and the herb-lady couldn’t help, they easily had someone weird and outlandish to blame instead of owning their infidelity (and rightly so, pilgrims were pretty hard on their penances).
11. Lady Danville – Tired Magician
Why would a magician ever be tired? All he does is fiddle with his wand and say some obviously bogus words to befuddle the onlookers. Now, witches have a lot of work to do, getting all their herbs and spices and whatnot to mix their teas and balms, running away from angry mobs or baking for three weeks straight to build a gingerbread-house. But maybe it’s the place in the spotlight, the awe of the people and all the groupies that tire even the most flashy wizard now and then…
12. Donovan – Season of the Witch
Oh Donovan. Not only are you Donovan and therefore responsible for quite a few horrendous songs but then Nicolas Cage comes along and turns one of your hits into a pretty shitty horror movie (even though Ron Perlman is in it, who strangely enough can pull off bad movies a lot better than Nicolas Cage). Apart from that – why would a witch have a season? Is that some sort of euphemism for her period?’Gee Linda, you’re awfully cranky today, must be the season of the witch, ey?’ Sorry…that was uncalled for.
13. Said the Whale – Camilo (The Magician)
I wonder whether magicians think about their names as bands do. I mean, “Harry Potter” is kind of a horrible name and it doesn’t help that it usually is being said in a contemptuous or fawning voice. “Camilo” sounds like a bad choice as well until you read the entries in the Urban Dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Camilo and they are all awesome. Well played, Camilo, well played.
14. Eels – Teenage Witch
Oh Sabrina. There’s a pretty awesome song by a post-core band that is called something like “Sabrina the little cunt”. Maybe I add it later on because it’s funny and a great song. I actually watched Sabrina, even though she was pretty much the counter-part to Teenage me. Teenage me was a lot more like Mr. E, so this song is a fair compromise.
By the way, I am well aware that there was an 80s movie called “Teenage Witch” and that that’s probably the reference for the song-name. But I am a 90s kid, so Sabrina it is.
Gotta love art-school video-projects….
15. Bondage Fairies – Jens and the Magician
Whoever reads the bandname plus the songtitle and is not worried about Jens: I commend you for your childlike wonder and innocence.
16. Surfer Blood – Blair Witch
Ok, naming your songs after popular movies is kind of a dick move but I loved that movie. I totally get why some people hate it and don’t find anything remotely scary about it but I am a sucker for leaving most of the horror to my imagination (because apparently, my imagination is a dark and disturbing place) and the ending still freaks me out.
17. Black Sabbath – The Wizard
Dang it, the wizards have a lot of awesome bands singing about them. Black Sabbath were a delight in their prime and are one of those bands whose reunion you really should ignore, like the last season of Scrubs or every Night Syhamalan-movie after “Sixth Sense”.
Sorry folks, couldn’t find a live-video older than 10 years…and you don’t want anything younger than at least 30 years.
18. Maps & Atlases – Witch
I am starting to wonder whether I have put too many songs on this list because I can’t think of anything else to write…You know, my first horror movie I was allowed to watch was “Warlock” with Julian Sands as a male witch (I must have been 10 or 11). I think I watched the edited version but the scene where he uses a kid’s fat to fly still haunts me. Because this was an actual belief that witches could fly with the help of fat. Who the hell made that shit up?
This band is an enigma to me. They sound pretty good on video and all but being in the same room and experiencing their show is a thousand times better because weirdly enough, their music doesn’t really translate through video. It’s so strange!
19. The Who – Pinball Wizard
Sure, my favourite rock opera still is “Quadrophenia” but the psychedelic weirdness of “Tommy” is so incredibly ambitious, diverse and ahead of its time that I would actually fight people who say that the Beatles were the best British band of that time. Pah!
SHIVERS! Fun fact: Elton John was really scared of moving in these shoes. No “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” for you then, Elton!
20. Uriah Heep – The Wizard
There are a few classic rock bands that I know but don’t really get. I guess Uriah Heep are one of those, there is too much of what would become bad 80s hair metal and even though the mystical Led Zeppelin lyrics weren’t masterpieces either, there was still some sort of artistry to them. This song’s lyrics…not so much. But still, I guess some teenagers were really into it back in the 70s.
I am awaiting wizardrous shitstorms by Uriah Heep-fans, so don’t disappoint me, you nerds!
21. The Walkmen – The Witch
Ok, let me introduce the following theme of songs: uninspired song-titles! Did you know that in Russian fairy tales, the witch Babajaga was usually played by a dude? There are some Russian fairy-tales that really only make sense somehow if you’ve grown up with them because they are bat-shit crazy. Babajaga had a house that stood on a chicken leg. And if you passed it, you always had to make sure the door was on the other side because otherwise Babajaga would get you.
Also, I really like this song.
22. The Rattles – The Witch
Here is a question: There is this tale that witches can’t step on holy ground aka churches and cemeteries and stuff (as shown in another awesome scene of “Warlock”). But I wonder if that applies to witches of all cultures (because most cultures have them). I mean, would a Hindu witch be able to step into a christian church? I am being silly here, of course, but come on, this holy-stuff (just as with vampires and crosses but we’ll come to that in a week or so) is so ridiculous because it turns the symbolic into some magic crap (just like holy water).
Is it me or were roughly 80% of all rock music videos of the 70s recorded in the woods?
23. The Sonics – The Witch
I actually heard this song the first time consciously when the Arctic Monkeys played it on some radio show. I love the mix of soul music and garage punk. I am always flabbergasted when I hear music from the 50s and 60s that is so ahead. This could have been easily from the 70s.
Raquel Welch, Ladies and Gentlemen.
24. Clinic – The Witch
Apparently, the 60s sound fits well to witches. I wonder why? Was that the time when Roald Dahl released his gorgeously gory book “The Witches”? Let’s give it up to Roald Dahl who may or may have not influenced dozens of witch-related songs! Also, the band is pretty awesome, they wear surgical masks and scrubs during their shows but if they play outdoors, they wear surgical masks and hawaii-shirts. A part of me finds that incredibly brilliant.
I am detecting hawaii-shirts, so it must be very hot or outside. One mini-rant: audience members dancing on stage during the show are like me talking through the movie in the cinema – probably very entertaining for me but the wildly annoying for most other people. But hey, I am just a boring old nerd.
25. Redbone – The Witch Queen of New Orleans
You know, this is actually one of the few witch-related songs that actually sounds like it. You have some funkey-blues-style there, some creepy theremin (?) in the background and the disco-violins…ok, so witches are hardly ever disco but who could not imagine some sexy witch queen in platform shoes, a purple overall and hair styled up to the ceiling, poisoning men with her dangerous kiss and some enchanted dancemoves? Just as I thought.
Oh hey, from when is that video? Well, let’s see…weird moustaches, weird background and a million tussles…must be the 70s.
26. David Seville – Witch Doctor
Ok, this song is the kind of knocked-off gimmicky song that equals to today’s “Gangnam Style” – hot for one summer and then…good lord, it’s still being played? Why? It’s horrible! But hey, it’s a classic, so it has to be good…? It’s also pretty racist and steals from a thousand other songs. I only included it to say that and be done with it. Oh god, it’s only two minutes long and I already want to smash my laptop. Also: Aaaaaalviiiiin!
Even the video makes me angry.
27. C.W. Stoneking – Don’t go dancin
If you are lucky and see C.W. live and if you are even luckier and he feels chatty, then he will tell some awesome stories about his time in New Orleans that possibly but hopefully aren’t a great fib. Apparently, he worked for a hoodoo doctor which is some sort of witch. He has some great stories about people being abducted and put into women’s clothes under a spell, about horrible love-potions and other hoodoo. He is one of the best entertainers on stage I’ve ever encountered and his music is pretty awesome too. One of a kind, I tell ya, one of a kind.
As you can hear, he is from Australia.
What what? You thought I would forget this sweet little number? Oh no, I just had to save it up for last and add the version that is most epic in epicness because it is so over the top, weird and ridiculous that no one can escape it. It’s Bette Middler.
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