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Smackdown: Vampires vs. Zombies

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's been a big year for the undead. Vampires are sucking blood on TV shows like True Blood and Vampire Diaries and in the upcoming film New Moon. Zombies are stumbling through movies starring Woody Harrelson (Zombieland) and books by zombie-loving scribe Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks). In a special Halloween edition of Soundcheck Smackdown, we debate whether vampires or zombies have inspired better music. We're joined by Tom Moon, author of the spookily titled book 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, and Jason Rekulak of Quirk Books, publisher of the Jane Austen satire Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Tell us: Which has inspired better music -- vampires or zombies? Why do you think vampires and zombies are a big part of pop culture right now?


Tom Moon and Jason Rekulak

Comments [90]

Leba C. from Brooklyn

I can't believe no one has mentioned witches in the comments-"Black Magic Women" or even the "Harry Potter" soundtracks, anyone?

Vampires have more to explore in literature than zombies do, seeing as they have "lives" but the Cranberries' Zombie makes a great musical argument. Where can I see the two guest's lists?

Oct. 28 2009 12:33 AM
Laura from CT

No one mentioned Zombie Nation?

Oct. 27 2009 10:54 PM
Sharon from NYC

We have a "Twilight" - vampire themed singer scheduled to sing for our vampire cruise in January - please see for details. It's a Twilight - True Blood - Vampire Diaries, Dracula, etc. cruise for fans and for writers/aspiring writers/screenwriters, hosted by Hollywood screenwriter Judy Burns (of "Star Trek" fame).

Oct. 27 2009 10:50 PM
Henry Hernandez II from Astoria, NY

Song: Christian Zombie Vampire
Band: My Life w/ the Thrill Kill Cult

Great song and combines Vampires, Zombies and the scariest of them all, Christians

Oct. 27 2009 10:48 PM
Isabel from NYC

I am a teenage girl and dick cheny is not a vampire, he is a zombie, a mindless zombie

Oct. 27 2009 10:25 PM
Will from SF

Oh no I guess I missed the show! My brother was listening and frantically texted me the topic. I used to be in a band called, "DraculaZombieUSA." Ha! I think we were among the worst band names of 2006 in the Onion or something.

Oct. 27 2009 05:31 PM
CJ from NY

It's not that deep, James.

Oct. 27 2009 02:57 PM
Rachel from Brooklyn

Zombies can have love songs, too - not just vampires. "My Body's a Zombie for You" by Dead Man's Bones, the musical project with Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields, is great.

Oct. 27 2009 02:55 PM
James from Brooklyn

The question of "better music" is tricky resolve, since it's hard to evaluate art. That said, if beauty is truth, and truth beauty, we can perhaps claim that great art points to something true, while things that are not great art--porn, romance novels, etc.--do not necessarily represent anything true, bur rather represent fictions designed to appeal to our baser instincts.

As such, we can give vampires two truths: the truth of the attraction of things that are dangerous, and the various truths of the various exploitations that are referenced by the metaphors in vampire songs.

Unfortunately, neither of these truths is as deep or significant as the truth referenced by zombie songs, namely the importance of individuals over the masses. This emphasis on individuals rather than communities is at the heart of the renaissance, of human rights, of artistic expression itself. It's the Declaration of Independence, it's Fight Club, and it's Fight the Power.

Indeed, the truth of exploitation referenced by vampire art only has meaning because of the moral framework implied by the truth of individual significance referenced by zombie art.

Oct. 27 2009 02:53 PM
Ron Mwangaguhunga from Williamsburg, NY

Blackblackblackblack Number 1!!

" loving the dead"

Oct. 27 2009 02:51 PM
Ted in Atlanta from Design dept.

Obviously vampires win, but you need the zombies for the yin/yang big lovable stupid side of life.

Another point for zombies: I was recently surprised to find out the brilliant pop retro artist SHAG, known for mid-century cocktail and tiki themed imagery, played in kitschy California band Swamp Zombies back in the day.

Oct. 27 2009 02:46 PM
Carol from Brooklyn

In the pop culture, until the recent vampire craze, vampires are 19th century and zombies 20th century.

Oct. 27 2009 02:46 PM
Mark from Iowa

The Toadies - “Possum Kingdom”

Oct. 27 2009 02:40 PM
Mark Grannon from Ridgewood, NJ

Although I am not a fan of the genre - What about the werewolf? One of the best soundtracks I know of is from "An American Werewolf in London".

Oct. 27 2009 02:40 PM
Freddy Jenkins

62 comments in and someone mentions the Cramps???? They should've been mentioned within the first TEN!

Oct. 27 2009 02:40 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

Yeah, werewolves are underrated! If they had been part of the debate, I would have thrown down for them.

That conversation was so fun!

Oct. 27 2009 02:39 PM
Sebastiaan from Brooklyn

Son of dracula

Oct. 27 2009 02:39 PM
Alison from Brooklyn

Also, fun Roky Erickson song, "I Walked with Zombies."

Oct. 27 2009 02:38 PM
Victoria from Jersey Shore


Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is the BEST vampire song around!!! Don't forget it!


Oct. 27 2009 02:37 PM
Marcio from Boston

The Brazilian Singer Caetano Veloso sings a song called Vampiro...which is simply AMAZING!!!!

Oct. 27 2009 02:36 PM
Marco from Brooklyn

Definitive zombie song: "I walked with a zombie by thirteenth floor elevators

Zombie= cerebral (they eat brains)
vampires= sensual

Oct. 27 2009 02:36 PM
michael from brooklyn

the band the godrays had a song called "vampire's suck" which was more about break ups i think.

Oct. 27 2009 02:33 PM
Don from Dumbo

Enough of the dreary stuff! Zombies have more fun -- see Zombie Jamboree by Harry Belafonte (and maybe earlier in Trinidad.)

Oct. 27 2009 02:33 PM
Ken from New Jersey

What about the Zombies (the British Invasion band) vs. Vampire Weekend?

Oct. 27 2009 02:33 PM
Aubrey from nyc

What about werewolves?

TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me" is amazing, and could apply to vampires, zombies, and werewolves.

Oct. 27 2009 02:32 PM
Joan Shimabukuro from Astoria

Vampires! so much sexier.
I think Lakme would be a great song for contrast and creepy serenity as they pursue and catch their prey.

Oct. 27 2009 02:32 PM
Melissa from Brooklyn

You're reminding me of one of my favorite a cappella songs: "Zombie Jamboree" sung by Rockapella. It's a "cute" zombie song. Please play it!

Oct. 27 2009 02:32 PM
Don B from Dumbo

Enough of the dreary stuff. Zombies have more fun. see Zombie Jamboree (Back to Back. Belly to Belly, in a New York Cemetery.) thats Harry Belafonte of course and maybe earlier in Trinidad.

Oct. 27 2009 02:31 PM
John Bracken from Long Island City


Lots of songs about the undead but "Zombie Dance" might take the cake. It also lends weight to the arguement that zombie = punk.

Oct. 27 2009 02:31 PM
Aubrey from nyc

What about werewolves???

TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me" is an amazing song...could apply to vampires, werewolves, and zombies.

Oct. 27 2009 02:31 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

There's a band called Dracula Zombie USA. I believe they supported both zombies and vampires equally.

Oct. 27 2009 02:31 PM
CJ from NY

She's right. Vampires are about people who drain the life force out of you. Not sexy!

Oct. 27 2009 02:31 PM
Ron Mwangaguhunga from Williamsburg, NY

Zombies, particularly, tend to rise on the pop-cultural radar at moments of great governmental debt. The late 80s, during Reagan's second administration, was the golden age of zombie films. One might even go so far as to argue that necrified zombies are the archetypal symbols of public debt.

Oct. 27 2009 02:30 PM
j from chelsea

the pearl in the beard has a great song about zombies! ask them to play it!

Oct. 27 2009 02:30 PM
Jen from Chatham, NJ

Dracula songs are more about a dangerous individual, whereas zombies are more about the ills of society. But think about it, zombie movies are more about the people who have to get rid of the zombies, not the zombies themselves. And along those lines, some zombies have gotten quicker (28 Days Later, I Am Legend), so I would imagine zombie songs must have to reflect that! Vampires have gotten sexier and more complex, so maybe the songs reflect that as well.

BTW, great music zombie scene is from Shaun of the Dead when they tried to kill zombies by flinging vinyl records at them.

Oct. 27 2009 02:30 PM
Jessica from Queens, NY

Vampires are sex so it's pretty easy to be a fan. But zombies are simply awesome and have so many facets to their personality. You've got everything from your rabid, fleshy-hungry beasts from the Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later to your sad, romantically-challenged Zombie-American, portrayed by Ed Helms.

Oct. 27 2009 02:29 PM

Vampire Weekend's name seemed largely incidental, but the video for "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" has the band transformed by the light of the full moon into...goths?

Oct. 27 2009 02:29 PM
allison from manhattan

i am thinking vampires have won this battle....

outkast's "dracula's wedding"
slint's "nosferatu man"
xiu xiu's "brian the vampire"
radiohead's "we suck young blood"
et cetera

all zombies have going for them is grunge yuck

Oct. 27 2009 02:28 PM
uncle monsterface from dino skeleton island

check out uncle monsterface's mashed potato vs vampire. classic. (from an album that features another song about vampires and one about giant zombies taking over the world). double irony - jocelyn from pearl and the beard sings on that album. well.

i think vampire beats zombie in a fight. unless overwhelmed by numbers (or unfair fast zombies). songs are a draw, but if it was a band full of actual zombies, that would be more fun to watch.

the real question is, where the hell are the songs about vampires by vampire weekend?!

Oct. 27 2009 02:27 PM
Catherine Mouttet from manhattan

Bauhaus's Bela Lagosi is Dead. Best Vampire song ever.

Oct. 27 2009 02:27 PM
Tom from NJ

Thriller is great as is the Zombie Jamboree so I'd have to give my vote to the zombies in music although in movies I've always preffered vampires.

Oct. 27 2009 02:27 PM
kira from brooklyn

Duh! Bela Lugosi's Dead...Bauhaus. best song ever. vampires win.

Oct. 27 2009 02:26 PM
Jim Macnie from brooklyn

agree with Mr Moon on the SEX issue of today's subject. don't forget Philly Joe Jones' "Blues for Dracula"

i think half japanese would land on the zombie side of thinks, though Jad has worn a black cape once or twice.

here a list to consider:

Oct. 27 2009 02:25 PM
Annie from NYC

Buffy Ste. Marie did a great vampire song that is seductive, atmospheric and line:
Oh my little rosary, never used it very well, now I never will...

Vampires rule

Oct. 27 2009 02:25 PM
Sam I Am from Morningside heights

What about Philip Glass' Dracula? The music is absolutely beautiful, and you hear the naked, scratchy sound of a violin bow on a string all the way through. The most sophisticated vampire piece around.

Oct. 27 2009 02:25 PM
Marshall from Ridgewood NJ

Zombies of course....
The Zombies!!!!!
Time of the Season

Oct. 27 2009 02:24 PM
Ciesse from Manhattan

There are also at least two legit operas about vampires -- Heinrich Marschner's Der Vampyr and a 20th-c. work based on 'Dracula' staged at the Houston Opera in the '90s (can't remember composer right now). Zombies simply haven't existed in the cultural imagination for long enough a time -- at least not in any consistent form -- to make significant impact or to have much mileage.

Oct. 27 2009 02:24 PM
Robert Lyon from New Jersey

There is a psychological theory that the zombie is constructed to contain our fear of each other. After bears, the greatest threats we face are from our fellow men, who look just like us. Since the "monsters" among us don't look like monsters, folktales and storytellers create monstrous versions of humans so that we can psychologically cope and identify the monsters.
Zombies are great because, while threatening, they are even more vulnerable than we are, move slowly, and are easily decapitated.

Oct. 27 2009 02:24 PM
Vivian Tong from Brooklyn

Forget about Vampires. My favourite music video has a werewolf --- "It's A Wonderful Night"!! But, I'm also in love with Rockapella's "Zombie Jamboree".

Oct. 27 2009 02:24 PM
William from Long Island City

Zombies represent the worst element of Modern Society:
Janelle Monae asks:
"Are we really living or just walking dead now."
I know she's more sci-fi, but it's a repeated theme in many zombie movies

Oct. 27 2009 02:23 PM
Brian from NYC

"the world is a vampire.." - smashing pumpkins

Oct. 27 2009 02:23 PM
Steve from Morristown

What about Ozzys "Bark at the Moon"? Where are teh warewolves?!?

Oct. 27 2009 02:23 PM
Natalie from Ocean Grove, NJ

As far as music goes, neither wins... NOTHING beats werewolves!

Werewolves of London!!!!!

Oct. 27 2009 02:23 PM
Ted in Atlanta from Design dept.

But two of my all time favorites from childhood are for phantoms - the organ theme to "The Haunted Mansion" - or the wonderful and memorable "Headless Horseman" by Thurl Ravenscroft - both by Disney (Is that vampirism by association?)

Oct. 27 2009 02:23 PM
Heidi from brooklyn

Despite my love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and the vampire characters Spike and Angel, a favorite of mine is the John Coulton song "Re: Your Brains" about what happens when that annoying manager in your office becomes a zombie.

Oct. 27 2009 02:22 PM
Steve from Morristown

Twilight = sucks, no pun intended


The recent graphic novel "The Walking Dead", soon to be an AMC TV series, is amazing, more a study on social behavior than on how to best behead the walking dead.

Oct. 27 2009 02:22 PM
Michael Zullo from Budapest, Hungary

We prefer VAMPIRES.

We are in Budapest now on vacation for 2-weeks.

We are going to TRANSYLVANIA for the real thing on October 31.

Mike and Virginia Zullo
Upper Eastside, Manhattan

Oct. 27 2009 02:22 PM
Brian from Inwood

How about Dead Can Dance in the Vampire chic category? I seem to remember one of the band members actually bought a church and setup a home studio there.

Oct. 27 2009 02:21 PM
lina from Manhattan


Zombies are NJ

Oct. 27 2009 02:21 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

Let's not forget the classic episode of Buffy, "Once More With Feeling," in which vampires and their slayers burst into song, musical-theater style.

Oct. 27 2009 02:20 PM
Alaina from Brooklyn

I'm not going to argue either way, but the Cranberries' "Zombie" was one of the most important songs to me as a teenager. The idea that I was destined to take part in what I saw as a conforming adult world was very scary to me.

Oct. 27 2009 02:20 PM
Brian from NYC

nobody wants to be a zombie. being a vampire is hot, you wear black.

Oct. 27 2009 02:20 PM
mary p from downtowm

I'm with CJ on both and Werevolves have the best party singalong. But hey - what is the G Love Zombie song?

Oct. 27 2009 02:20 PM
Jay from Putnam

What about the Cranberries "Zombie" from 1994.

Yes, they use "Zombie" as a metaphor, but it rocks.

Oct. 27 2009 02:19 PM
Jim from Manhattan

Actually, your guest for the next part of the show, Pearl and the Beard, also have a great Zombie song in their repertoire!

Oct. 27 2009 02:19 PM
Ted in Atlanta from Design dept.

Awesome comment Cynthia! Vampires = waaay too overexposed right now. A brilliant, timeless world-weary yet electric sophistication seems to follow these legends... trending perhaps toward opera and mathrock. However zombies are the clods of monsterism, a fun-loving but simple bunch that might like, say, punk and country sentimentality. It's a tough call.

Oct. 27 2009 02:19 PM
Robots Need 2 Party from NYC

I'm voting for robots but that's a write in I guess.

That Concrete Blonde song seemed like it was both pro vampire and pro zombie...

"You were a vampire and I'm the walking dead"

Aren't zombies walking dead?

Oct. 27 2009 02:18 PM
Steve from Morristown

The mascot, Eddie, of one of the greatest bands ever, Iron Maiden, is a zombie!

Oct. 27 2009 02:18 PM
bob zombie from greenpoint

as you hinted at, it seems the rise of the Zombie coincided with the 25th anniversary of Thriller. With the death of MJ could the zombie thing be a public honoring of the king?

Oct. 27 2009 02:17 PM
CJ from NY

Dick Cheney = Satan

Oct. 27 2009 02:17 PM
Phineas from Manhattan

The one that tips it for zombies is The Zombies's classic album, Odyssey and Oracle...the sublime Time of the Season and the rest of it. And toss in Bowie's Scary Monsters for good measure.

Oct. 27 2009 02:17 PM
Sam I Am from Morningside heights

I'd vote for Vampires purely because they've got better film and TV scores: Elliott Goldenthal's Interview with the Vampire, Carter Burwell's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Annie Lenox's "Love Song for a Vampire"...

Oct. 27 2009 02:16 PM
Ciesse from Manhattan

All Goth music/style is implicitly vampiresque. Of course vampires have had much more influence in music and more prolific in spawning subcultures.

Oct. 27 2009 02:13 PM
Kelly Walsh from UES

Vampires. First- zombies cannot speak, much less carry a tune. Vampires do have the sex aspect, but more than that- they have a certain style which lends itself to the music industry- and many bands will agree that A&R people are closely related to the blood-sucking denizens of the night.

Oct. 27 2009 02:13 PM
Erica P. from NJ (in exsilium)

Vampires = Goth
Zombies = Punk

Oct. 27 2009 02:13 PM
cb from brooklyn

Vampires have more sex but zombies probably have more fun.

Oct. 27 2009 02:12 PM
Rich K from Union City

I'd go with vampires, especially as represented by Claudia Schmidt's "Vampyre (Forever Young)".

Oct. 27 2009 02:12 PM
Cynthia from long island

Poor zombies. Hey, It's not easy being sexy when your limbs are falling off!

Oct. 27 2009 02:12 PM
Patrick from NYC

Where's the Goth? Once again a highly influential genre is overlooked. One of the best Zombie songs of all time is "Now I'm feeling Zombified" by Alien Sex Fiend.

Oct. 27 2009 02:11 PM
mike from brooklyn

Nellie Mckay's "Zombie"!! go Zombies!!!

Oct. 27 2009 02:09 PM
CJ from NY

There's no Zombie Chic. That's just the way Rachel Zoe comes across because she's starving.

Oct. 27 2009 02:09 PM
cb from brooklyn

On the one hand, there's Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus with solid representation for the vampires. But on the other hand, I've got one of my personal favorites They Are Night Zombies by Sufjan Stevens.

I think I'd have to agree that Thriller is the trump card of all music monsterness

Oct. 27 2009 02:06 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I prefer zombies in movies (they're more sociopolitical) but I think the psychosexual element of vampires might lend itself better to music.

I just watched "The Hunger" the other day, and the opening scene was AWESOME: beautiful vampires David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve prowling for victims in New York City nightclubs while Bauhaus performs "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

Oct. 27 2009 02:04 PM

I love Fela Kuti's "Zombie" but it's a metaphor for Nigeria's military.

Oct. 27 2009 01:53 PM
Cynthia from long island


Oct. 27 2009 01:48 PM
Cynthia from long island

I like Monster Mash because it celebrates all monsters equally withour prejudice!

Oct. 27 2009 01:48 PM
Keith from Long Island

Well, on the side of Zombies, we have Thriller. Which can really, kind of carry the category on it's own, regardless of what other songs you might conjure up.

On the side of Vampires... there's what exactly? The Twilight and True Blood soundtracks?

Come on, this debate is just open and shut.

Oct. 27 2009 12:29 PM
jtt from jackson heights

Trueblood just keeps getting more and more stupid, but that song is so so good.

Oct. 27 2009 12:25 PM
John-Paul G from Elizabeth, NJ

Wouldn't the music industry be arguing that the real vampires are those darn kids and their internet downloading?

Thriller's the best selling album anyway, so dancing zombies have clearly won.

Oct. 27 2009 11:33 AM
CJ from NY

Some has to give some love to the were wolves and Warren Zevon. "Were wolves of London" is a great song, used in several films.

Oct. 27 2009 11:13 AM

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