A Halloween conspiracy theory going viral on Twitter has social media users coming to a startling realization about Bobby Pickett’s beloved perennial hit “Monster Mash.”
The theory, which was shared by user cableknitjumper on Oct. 1, suggests that we have never truly heard the Monster Mash; we’ve only heard a song describing a monster party where the mash was played.
“Very troubling that the song ‘Monster Mash’ isn’t the Monster Mash,” the user wrote. “It’s a song about the Monster Mash, which is not itself heard on the track, and is fundamentally unknowable to us.”
Very troubling that the song "Monster Mash" isn't the Monster Mash — it's a song about the Monster Mash, which is not itself heard on the track, and is fundamentally unknowable to us.
— Amy S. Pumpkins (@cableknitjumper) October 1, 2020
The tweet, which has racked up 208K likes and over 31K retweets, is just the latest installation in a long-standing tradition of October viral posts expressing the same idea: We do not know the real Monster Mash — we only know Bobby Pickett’s 1962 eponymous classic, which, as the theory states, is merely an ode.
The concept is similar to how Tenacious D’s “Tribute” is not the greatest song in the world; it’s just, well, a tribute to it.
Guys. I'm here to red-pill you all.
You've never heard the actual Monster Mash. You've just heard a record *about* the Monster Mash.
— Lawrence Miles (@Lawrence_Miles) October 8, 2017
And, since Pickett died in 2007 without the chance to weigh in on the kooky theory — which seems to have sprung up on social media in the mid-2010s and gained steam in 2017 — we can’t exactly ask him if it holds any merit.
So, what exactly do we know about the Monster Mash based on Pickett’s lyrics and history, and what truths remain “unknowable” to us?
What we fundamentally do know
You can both do the mash and play the mash
In the first chorus of Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” a monster rose from his slab and “did” the Monster Mash. In the song’s third chorus, a band of monsters — including “Igor on chains,” “the coffin-bangers” and “The Crypt-Kicker Five” — “played” the mash.
This reveals to us that the true Monster Mash must be similar to the “Electric Slide” in that there is both a song and a dance component that share the same name.
The “Crypt-Kicker Five” is formally credited on the “Monster Mash”
Speaking of the “Crypt-Kicker Five,” or simply the “Crypt-Kickers,” they are actually formally credited on Pickett’s No. 1 record. That’s because the group is comprised of real, mortal musicians.
It was a graveyard smash
Not up for debate is the obvious fact that the Monster Mash was a graveyard smash — it’s right there in the lyrics.
The real song must patently slap if the narrator says it does in every chorus.
The mash replaced the ‘Transylvania Twist‘
As Dracula reveals to us in the song’s lyrics while shaking his fist, the Monster Mash was an apparent successor to his “Transylvania Twist,” which sounds like a spooky variant of the 1960’s dance craze, the Twist.
The Mashed Potato was a similarly popular dance craze of the 1960s — the same decade that the "Monster Mash” was released. It’s almost certain that the corresponding dance to the 1962 "Monster Mash" would have been molded by the Mashed Potato dance.
But again, this is assuming we exist on the same pop culture plane that monsters do, which the original Monster Mash Twitter theory clearly calls into question.
Pickett released several (mildly questionable) follow-up songs to the original Mash
Bobby Pickett was the true definition of a one-hit-wonder, although his one hit sure did hit big.
According to Billboard, his “Monster Mash” debuted on the Hot 100 the week of Sept. 8, 1962. Six weeks later, the novelty song knocked the Four Seasons’ “Sherry” from the top spot to begin a two-week reign that ended four days before Halloween.
Trying to capitalize on the song’s success, Pickett quickly released multiple unsuccessful follow-up tunes, including “Monster’s Holiday” and “Monster Motion” in 1962, “Monster Swim” in 1964, and “Monster Rap” in 1984.
In 2004, Pickett even released a mash parody titled “Monster Slash,” with lyrics critiquing then-president George W. Bush’s environmental policies.
Sadly, none of them were a graveyard smash.
What we fundamentally don’t know
When the original Monster Mash party took place
Contrary to popular belief, there is no hard evidence the party mentioned in Pickett’s “Monster Mash” takes place on Halloween.
Since the song was recorded in May 1962 and released on Aug. 25, 1962, the song has no inherent ties to Halloween. For all we know, it’s a summer monster anthem.
Anything else, really!
Sorry folks, I’m ruling in favor of the resistance party here. While all signs point to the fact that Pickett’s “Monster Mash” is the lone, true mash — meant to be danced to in a manner similar to this spooky version of the Mashed Potato — it’s more fun to keep the mystery alive.
Let people enjoy things — and Happy Halloween.
If you enjoyed this article, check out the worst Halloween costumes of 2020 (so far).
More from In The Know: