Halloween should be filled with the most terrifying creatures and haunting tales of the afterlife. But I would argue the most horrifying part of Halloween is the lack of themed songs for the season. The short list of Halloween themed tunes consists of the “Monster Mash” (duh), the infamous Glee mashup of “Thriller/Heads Will Roll”, Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” (mostly for the funky piano parts), the hip-hip slay of “A Nightmare On My Street”, and the iconic “Spooky Scary Skeletons”. Google will try to argue that songs like “Werewolves of London”, “Highway to Hell”, “Creep”, “She Wolf”, and “Disturbia” are all classified as “Halloween Anthems” but I do not agree that a slight reference to serial killers, death, or animals immediately makes a song fit for the haunting season. I believe that a true Halloween Anthem should elicit fear, include a spunky auto-tuning, reference at least 7 monsters in the music video, and is sung by a 13 year-old Disney channel star.
The ONLY song that fits these few requirements is “Calling all the Monsters” by China Anne McClain. From a surface level analysis of the song, Ms. McClain was setting the scene that the listener was being hunted by a group of monsters that were being summoned by the singer (Ms. McClain herself!). When I was younger, the music video creeped me OUT with all the impressive make-up, costumes, and dancing. But now that I am many years older, this song has taken on a new meaning.
On a deeper analysis of the song, I realize that Ms. McClain was the villain of her own story. She was summoning the monsters into her own dreams, thus creating nightmares. In the music video, China Anne is seemingly enjoying her Halloween night with her two sisters but as they approach a Haunted House, China Anne is the only sister daring enough to enter. China Anne is willing to enter this haunted house because it symbolizes her own mind, a creepy abyss filled with sleeping monsters.
Once she enters the haunted house of her mind, she begins to move her body erratically. I believe this is supposed to be her dancing, but she starred on A.N.T Farm and not Shake it Up so it’s hard to tell this is choreography. As Ms.McClain begins to explore deeper into her mind, she finds a variety of monsters hiding within. As she reaches the second chorus of the song, the monsters begin following her around the house and mincing her erratic moves. This imitation symbolizes that these internal demons are one-in-the-same with China Anne McClain. Additionally, China Anne begins referring to the monsters and herself as “We” which proves that she is losing herself to the demons in her head.
As if we needed anymore evidence to prove that the haunted house is her mind, in the final bridge of the song China sings, “Gonna paint it read, get inside your head”. I mean, that’s pretty damning.
The music video ends with China Anne leaving the Haunted House and returning to her sisters. Once reunited Ms. McClain expresses that her sisters “were right, there’s nothing there [in the house]”. China Anne masks the horrors that she just saw within her own mind and carries about with her evening as if everything was fine. Pretending she was fine was the biggest scare of them all.
Through this song, China Anne brings awareness to the damaging effects of mental health illness. Additionally, she is breaking stereotypes by showing that even those who appear to be fine can be struggling. China Anne McClain was a trailblazer for mental health awareness and Halloween spirit.