We’ve had to sit through months of sexist Ghostbusters fanboys in a full-blown outrage woody because the new Ghostbusters is comprised of four very capable, very funny women instead of men. The mommy-fear was palpable there, and perhaps a plant, because even despite Missy Elliott, the real thing Ghostbusters fans have to be mad about is the absolute shit theme song remake.
Cover songs can be a perfectly fine affair—in the tradition of the American Songbook, even, as many contemporary songs become so beloved they evolve into de facto standards. “Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid),” the 1984 Ghostbusters theme song by Ray Parker, Jr., is unequivocally one of those songs, a jingle so pervasive it’s become part of our cultural fabric. But covers of 30-year-old songs, like remakes of 30-year-old films, are meant to be reworked; we want an updated spin on a classic for our time with the new players infusing it with their individual flavor, rather than, say, a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho.
In this arena, we can’t fault Fall Out Boy; they put their personal take on “Ghostbusters,” even rounding up the genius Missy Elliott for a cameo in the long and hallowed tradition of the cross-genre trendsetting Judgment Night soundtrack. The problem here isn’t the method, it’s the execution.
The personal take is bad. Somewhere between translating the synth-funk of the original into a song from a post-Nine Inch Nails epoch, Fall Out Boy decided its spookiness should sound like a deranged clown carnival. (In fact, I would more like to hear an Insane Clown Posse version of this.) How this baroque mess ever left the engineering room is the true fright of it all, with some sort of overly echo’d “eh-eh-eh-eh” synth preset taking tiny pigeon shits all over solos from a guitar made of aluminum.
I will admit that Fall Out Boy is already not my thing—I WILL GIVE YOU THAT—but this is an abomination, a song not likely to be played willingly outside of the end credits, which is unfortunate since Ray Parker’s original had its own life outside the film. The most unfortunate aspect, though, is that poor Missy Elliott got roped into it, dropping a typically fun (if literal) verse that gets lost inside the sweaty frat party of its surroundings.
We deserve better! Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy and them deserve better!