[Mourning Jams] Day 30: “What’s A Girl To Do?”

October 2019 is a celebration of horror and musicThis October, Daily Grindhouse is celebrating the collision between music and horror with a series of posts under the banner of Rocktoberfest 2019. There will be daily features, recurring bits, and some special posts around the subject.

Mourning Jams is your daily kick off every morning with a different music video that has some horror elements to it. Crossing genres, decades, and more, it’s a good way to get in the spooky mood this Halloween month.

“What’s A Girl To Do?”

Evidently take the music business by storm.

Straight off her 2006 debut album, Fur And Gold, Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) was met with mountains of acclaim and success. The English singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist brought her haunting voice and inventive arrangements to deliver wistful and emotive songs that felt like dark B-sides to go-go music; like the specter of Charles Manson creeping around The Mamas and the Papas, it’s at once off putting and familiar, dissonant yet pleasant. Her single “What’s A Girl To Do?” was a big hit, especially as the record was re-released and exploded when the music video debuted in 2007.

Directed by Dougal Wilson—an English filmmaker has made many advertisements, short films, along with music videos for Basement Jaxx, Jarvis Cocker, Coldplay, LCD Soundsystem, and more—”What’s A Girl To Do?” was inspired by DONNIE DARKO (hence the hoodies, bikes, animal masks, mechanical wrecks, ghosts…basically the whole content of the music video) and touted as done in a single shot. It most likely wasn’t as there seems to be small discrepancies the pedantic viewer can pick out at least a couple of times that would suggest a change—but dare to dream! “What’s A Girl To Do?” is very emblematic of Bats for Lashes—it is askew and wrong in a way that’s hard to explicitly point out, which imbues it with this spooky quality even though, by all measures, it appears rather tranquil.

Also, through the DONNIE DARKO references, “What’s A Girl To Do?” reflects how Bat for Lashes, in her songwriting, can take elements from something previously known, but then mix them up in such a way to create a new synthesis that remains recognizable of precursory works. The video would win a few awards and seems to have really held a grip on those who saw it over a decade ago. It doesn’t have graphic violence, chilling narrative, or conventional horror imagery—but “What’s A Girl To Do?” has its own frightening place as this bizarre rural nightmare that seems to be happening just outside the edge of town.

Tune in tomorrow for the final music video of Rocktoberfest and start the day on the fright foot on Halloween.

Rob Dean
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