Worst of Music: Fall Out Boy – Ghostbusters

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. While the Worst of Music isn’t dead (it can’t given music today), I still have to bust it out for special occasions. And the good folks in Fall Out Boy were kind enough to give me a reason to officially christen something the Worst of Music with their new song for the Ghostbusters reboot. Ray Parker Jr. this most certainly ain’t.

I’m not entirely sure where to start with it. The whole song takes elements of the original song and covers them in a way that’s just irritating. It’s not like they were asked to make a new song at all but just do the Ghostbusters song. I don’t mind the guitar hook in the chorus but I don’t care for the constant screaming of “I’m not afraid.” I get it. You’re not afraid but of what? That was the point of “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.” It was a song about ghosts and those who bust them, not about yourselves but good luck getting a modern popular artists to set their ego aside for their art.

For better or worse, it sounds like your standard Fall Out Boy song. I guess I can’t complain too much about that without also complaining about every Linkin Park song commissioned by Michael Bay sounding like every other Linkin Park song… so I’ll complain about that too while I’m here. I get that these are probably well-paid gigs but you could put a little effort into it.

Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t mention the whole “feat. Missy Elliot” part of this song. That’s because Missy tries her absolute damnedest to salvage something from this song. She is easily the best part of this song and I’m certain if she was given the task of making a new song for the Ghostbusters, she would try to do something original rather than a Missy Elliot version of Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters.

Of course, an original would be completely missing the point of this new Ghostbusters movie. Very little of what they have shown in trailers has been original. It seems to be a mishmash of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 with new actresses in place of the old ones. They haven’t given us much to suggest that they’re new characters but just recast.

For a comparison, let’s look at The Force Awakens. A lot of people complained that they rebooted Star Wars by copying A New Hope. They kept a lot of the story themes and beats from the original films that worked. Rey was discovering powers. It was largely told from the lowest character’s perspective (BB-8). The mentor character in Phantom Menace, A New Hope and The Force Awakens follows a near identical path in each. There is some validity to the argument but it’s not a carbon copy. They updated it to work within the established canon while introducing and growing new characters and using that to introduce beloved characters and concepts to new fans. Introducing new locations and elements to the universe gave everyone that shared sense of wonder that we all had watching Star Wars for the first time.

That’s not to say that the same couldn’t have happened with Ghostbusters (2016). Dan Aykroyd actually talked about bringing in a female cast and passing the torch in one of the many plans for Ghostbusters 3. It’s effectively what they did in The Force Awakens. At least Abrams changed up the superweapon a little bit. Nearly thirty years later and we still have the same Mr. Stay Puft.

For now, besides the re-casting and combining story elements from 1 & 2, Ghostbusters’ trailers seem to drop the smart humour that appealed to the older crowd and focuses on the original’s slapstick for all ages. There’s nothing wrong with slapstick-ish humour but that’s not all that Ghostbusters was.

This seems to be the case with this song. It’s as if they thought Ray Parker Jr’s song boiled down to “who you gonna call” and “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” so they boiled down the song to that on repeat while re-casting the singer with Fall Out Boy. It’s ignoring a lot else about the song that fans loved. Everybody recognizes the synth music from the original version. Find a memorable hook in this one. You can’t.

So congrats Fall Out Boy. You’ve won the prestigious and infamous Worst of Music award for this week.

Have someone else worthy of a WoM? Drop your suggestion in the comments.

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