It Would Be Cool If Wednesday Gave The Cramps Their Kate Bush Moment
This past summer, something remarkable happened. Kate Bush’s 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” appeared prominently in Stranger Things, becoming a plot point on the show, and the song suddenly became a hit among kids who weren’t born when it first came out. Thanks to Stranger Things, “Running Up That Hill” topped the UK singles chart, and it reached #3 in the US — a whole lot higher than any Kate Bush song had previously gone. Later that summer, something similar happened, on a smaller scale, with Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets.” Now, let’s all cross out fingers that another teen-oriented Netflix show will give some long-deserved shine to the Cramps.
Last week, Netflix released the first season of Wednesday, the new TV show that reboots The Addams Family as a kind of teen-detective series. Tim Burton directs four of the eight episodes. Jenna Ortega, from Ti West’s X and the most recent Scream sequel, plays Wednesday Addams, while Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in Barry Sonnenfeld’s ’90s Addams Family movies, plays a different character. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Morticia. Luis Guzmán is Gomez. The whole thing is pretty much Veronica Mars, except even more deadpan and now set at a boarding school for monster teenagers. My daughter and I mowed through the whole season over Thanksgiving, and there’s some bad CGI in there, but we had fun.
The highlight of first Wednesday season goes down at a school dance, and it has virtually nothing to do with the plot. It’s just Jenna Ortega doing a kind of face-frozen berzerker zombie frug to the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.” It’s got to be the best thing that Tim Burton’s directed since what? The part of Sleepy Hollow where Casper Van Dien gets murked? I’m not all caught up on recent Burton, and there’s a reason for that. But when Ortega wilds out to the Cramps, it’s like: Oh right, that guy directed Beetlejuice and Batman Returns.
Originally, “Goo Goo Muck” was an obscure 1962 single written and recorded by Ronnie Cook And The Gaylords. It belongs in the all-time canon of songs about being a horny teenage monster. The Cramps, the great rockabilly ghouls of the early New York punk scene, were always on the lookout for old songs about being horny teenage monsters. They covered “Goo Goo Muck” on their 1981 sophomore album Psychedelic Jungle, and they turned it into a classic. The Cramps were always a cult band, and they never got properly famous. They played their last live show in 2006, and frontman Lux Interior died of a sudden heart issue in 2009. They deserve to be remembered, and “Goo Goo Muck” deserves to be some kind of posthumous hit.
Thus far, I haven’t seen “Goo Goo Muck” shooting up any streaming charts. “Human Fly” and “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” remain the Cramps’ most-streamed songs by a significant margin. But Wednesday has been the #1 show on Netflix since its release, and there’s been a lot of talk about that dance scene. Jenna Ortega — who, it must be said, comes off as a total star on the show — choreographed that dance herself, and she and Burton chose “Goo Goo Muck” together. Ortega tells Vulture, “I just pulled inspiration from videos of goth kids dancing in clubs in the ’80s, Lene Lovich music videos, Siouxsie And The Banshees performances, and Fosse.”
She also talked about the Siouxsie inspiration in this interview clip.
She seems cool. I like her.
So let’s make this happen. Put some respect on the Cramps’ name, and put “Goo Goo Muck” on the Hot 100.