Ghostbusters theme song: In defense of Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott
With a new Ghostbusters movie comes a new take on the Ghostbusters theme song, and judging from the outrage over the track, you’d think the studio had remade the beloved tune with all women or something. If only we had been so lucky.
Instead, Fall Out Boy give the theme a dark, stadium-rock makeover that strips away some of the fun of Ray Parker Jr.’s chart-topping original. Words the internet has used to describe it include “absolute sh–,” “from the gates of hell,” “disastrously overproduced,” “ghastly quasi-dub step,” “[full of] repetitive screeching,” and “not very good.”
But before you dismiss it as a hot, steaming pile of ectoplasm, consider its redeeming quality: Missy Elliott. Her verse here isn’t one of her finest guest appearances to date, but new Missy is still new Missy — sometimes even old Missy is still new Missy when it comes to soundtracks — and a meh contribution from her is still better than what a lot of other featured rappers could have done. There’s also something endearing about her sincerity: Missy Elliott is literally rapping about being scared of ghosts. It’s the only part of the song that feels as goofy as the original did. And in the “Work From Home” era, where glaring sex metaphors are lurking around every corner, having one of hip-hop’s most important minds spit rhymes about the supernatural without shoe-horning in some double-entendres feels refreshing. What fan would say no to an entire sci-fi concept album about Missy Elliott conquering her fears of ghouls and poltergeists if that’s what it took to get her to put out another record?
The most head-scratching thing about this song, though, is its rejection of the 1984 original’s ‘80s synth-pop feel — why throw guitars all over this new version when that throwback sound couldn’t be more in right now? One of the biggest pop stars in the world named her album after the year 1989 and included a song inspired by the New Romantics. Bands like Tegan and Sara and St. Lucia have basically written love letters to the decade with their new albums. One of the biggest songs of 1984 was Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” a track with a legacy that lives on in one particular singer who knows a thing or two about covering old theme songs — and who probably would have done a better job updating the song for 2016 while still doing the original justice.
So, who you gonna call? Carly Rae Jepsen, maybe.