I picked up Freddy’s Greatest Hits nearly a decade ago, and I’ve been listening to it constantly ever since. Sure, I originally bought it for the “novelty” potential, and admit that the first time I heard it, I cackled over the complete ridiculousness of a Freddy Krueger pop album with a vague doo wop motif.
But after listening to it a few more times, something changed. This wasn’t just some gag for me to parade around as an audible oddity. It was a really, really great album. I mean it.
Released in 1987, Freddy already had three movies under his belt, and a fourth on the way. Even by then, he was a veritable pop icon, as Americana as hot dogs. It would be incorrect to say that the Elm Street movies weren’t “mainstream,” but even if you do want to argue that, there’s no denying that Freddy Krueger was mainstream. If I told you that he was earmarked for a Saturday morning cartoon series, I’d be lying, but you’d probably believe it.
Freddy’s popularity would see many peaks and valleys in the years to follow, but in 1987, he still had the Midas touch. Hell, nobody ever put Robert Englund on a “most bankable” actor list, but so long as he was in the latex, it was absolutely true. People of all ages were nuts for the character, and though I don’t mean to overstate his popularity, Freddy certainly had enough fans to warrant lots and lots of merchandise.
Beyond the costumes and suction-cupped window dolls was this album. This beautiful album, aimed at God knows who. I doubt it sold more than a few thousand copies, but then, maybe no more than a few thousand copies were produced to begin with.
It’s a bizarre thing with no clear audience. Too sophisticated for kids, too stupid for adults. Too much like show tunes for the horror crowd, too much like scary bloody horror for anyone else. It takes a perfect storm to find a customer for something like this. Apparently, my life was that storm.
Give it a listen, and then we’ll talk about it:
(If you can’t see the player, it’s because you’re viewing the site on something that won’t allow Flash. Sucks to be you.)
A mix of covers and original songs, Freddy Krueger is all over the album, but only rarely does he actually “sing.” Usually, he just tacks one-liners onto the verses. The actual music-making was done by the “Elm Street Group,” who I’m guessing were regular studio musicians gathered to make two months’ rent with the weirdest work they’d ever do.
In songs like “Do The Freddy,” the album is closer to what you’d expect. Over-the-top, with a lot of Freddy Krueger. But then you get songs like “Obsession,” that are real actual good songs even in spite of Freddy Krueger yelling all over them. You have to admit that even the most asinine tracks are pretty darn catchy.
And then there’s “Elm Street Dreams,” a dark, brooding instrumental that I just love to death. If you’ve ever been in an “alone and loving it” mood, that is your new totem song.
As mentioned, I’ve been listening to this constantly for years now. It was on my iPod, on my iTouch, and then when that broke, I put the MP3s right on my phone. God forbid there be a day when I don’t at least have the option to hear Freddy’s Greatest Hits. I guess this post, if nothing else, is just another way for me to have easy access.
I can connect these songs to so many memories. Memories of trips to great places, memories of past Halloweens, even memories of those boring morning commutes, where I did everything in my power to shield my iPod screen from the stranger sitting next to me. I wasn’t ashamed, but I wasn’t proud.
Give it a chance, and maybe you’ll “get it” too. No worries if you don’t. Even I’d never claim that a Freddy Krueger record album is for everyone, but I love this thing in a way that’s so much more sincere than I’m used to feeling.
Also, is it just me, or does Freddy sound a lot like Hulk Hogan during a few of these songs?