The Untold Story of “Spooky Scary Skeletons”

Listen to this episode

S1: Welcome to the morning hovering. How?

S2: It sounds really, truly true.

S3: Hi, I’m Rachel Hampton

S4: and I’m Madison Malone

S3: Kircher, you’re listening to say, why am I in case you missed it?

S4: Slate’s podcast about internet culture Where are you talking? Because it’s Halloween and it goes with my costume.

S3: Oh, OK. Well, for the listeners who cannot see us, ask all of you. Our cameras are not on because we wanted to surprise each other with our costumes, which based on the fact that your method acting makes me feel like yours is a much more high concept than mine.


S4: All right, should we reveal we should? Three, two one go.

S3: Oh hello, I’m Elizabeth Holmes. Wow, this a red lipstick.

S4: Wow, are you little Red Riding Hood? I am wearing a red hoodie

S3: that’s I’m wearing a red rain jacket.

S4: Oh, sorry. It’s a little fuzzy on the zoom.

S3: While this lipstick is really it’s giving fringe clown.

S4: But the thing about Elizabeth Hall is her makeup always looks like shit. So that’s how, you know, she’s a real serious science lady.

S3: Yes, she’s too busy for makeup. Your costume is much more high concept than mine. You not only have the Miranda sings s red lip, but a black turtleneck. Your hair pulled back perfectly, a little severe, a little casual, and what looks like a vial?


S4: It’s a travel sized brown tint bottle.


S3: Wow. I thought it was the top part of a vape pin, and I was just like, the commitment you really did come in.

S4: I can’t say the same for you, but Rachel, will you tell us a little bit about? Tell us who you’re wearing.

S3: I believe this is actually London fog. I’m wearing a red rain jacket that I got from a thrift shop. It’s very cute, actually. It’s one of my favorite things I purchase and I have the hood up and I thought of this costume exactly two minutes before the Zoom because you reminded me that we were doing this stunt. And I would like to say this is not a lack of commitment to the pod. It’s a lack of commitment to Halloween. I told you before that my last Halloween costume was a green baseball hat and a orange sweater, and then I said I was a pumpkin. Sure. Again, my commitment is low to the concept of Halloween. In fact, so long, I’m going to take off this jacket because I’m already sweaty. Oh boy.


S4: Well, in case it’s not obvious from our incredible award winning costumes, it’s Spooky season.

S3: Speaking of Halloween, the other day I was online as I always am, and I saw the scariest thing I think I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I am almost

S4: afraid to ask, but I will take one for the team and say, Rachel, what

S3: did you see, Madison? She’s back. She’s risen from the dead. Chrissy Teigen’s back online.

S4: Michael Myers every Halloween. A real internet zombie.

S3: Well, that was our trick for the day. Now let’s get to the treats


S4: today on the show, we’ve actually got a pillowcase full of treats. Rachel, did you trick or treat with a pillowcase?


S3: I just use a grocery bag from the store because we love recycling. Yeah, that’s why

S4: pillowcase is a sort of recycle. Yeah, it’s up. It’s like it went back on my bed. Yeah.

S3: Well, it went back in. You’re OK.

S4: Well, after I washed it, it didn’t go back on my bed like full of all my joints where you

S3: weren’t sleeping on a pillow capable of melted.

S4: Just, I mean, eight year old me probably wanted to be sleeping on a pillowcase full of melted chocolate.

S3: So what do we have in our pillowcase slash? You know, Whole Foods plastic bag.

S4: Our bags are full of Spooky internet tricks and treats, courtesy of our listeners.


S3: We put out a call for Halloween means viral videos TikToks. And as always, y’all came through

S4: from finding the origins of the $40 haunted house meme. Spoiler alert we had to dig back like eight years to the surprisingly heartwarming Untold story behind the banger that is Spooky scary skeletons. We’ve got a lot of great stuff in our pillowcases today. Also, mine is filled with those tiny squat, single serving Twizzlers, which are the best Halloween candy. I rest my case.

S3: Your case is both rested and incorrect, but I am ready for the Spooky time, though we’re going to have together.

S4: Rachel, I hate that word so much. It’s like Halloween, this version of people who say Dog Go and whopper. And Hey, whoa, whoa. Didn’t think you were one of them?


S3: Don’t insult me like that. OK? To be fair to me, I love Spooky because it annoys people more than I love the word like it’s somewhat of an ironic use. Do you know what


S4: I blame Spooky season on?

S3: I mean, I blame it on Tumblr, but who do you blame it on? OK, I have

S4: no evidence to prove this point, but I blame. Chanel. I don’t know that she ever said the word Spooky, but spiritually. New Girl Robert Spooky.

S3: You know, I believe that the word Spooky does give me like a blunt bang and around eyeglass moment, you know, like I can see it.

S4: Thank you. And not to burst your bubble. But Spooky season is a capitalist ploy. Many, many years ago, in the year 2009, someone uploaded a picture to Flickr of some Halloween decorations that spelled Spooky O. And that was the beginning of the end.


S3: Was it a mistake? And we’ve all just accepted it.

S4: It appears to be a photo from a store of some kind, so I’m going to go ahead and say, Yes, this was a mistake.

S3: I love that. And then we all just ran with it to annoy our friends

S4: while we’re on the topic of things that drive me nuts this time of year. Twitter display names can’t stand.

S3: Oh! I mean Madison. I mean, that’s not to put you on the spot, but I kind of feel that you feel that way because there’s no way to make a good Halloween display name with your name. I’m sorry.


S4: Yeah, exactly. This is a challenge if you’re listening. Madison Malone Kircher Havat. If you can come up with something Spooky. Well, what

S3: about what about Madison Malone?

S4: Sounds pretty

S3: well. Halloween is famously a haunted time of the year. Hold on. I’m going to think of something. No, I it’s escaping me, huh?


S4: Let’s see, let’s see. Rachel Hampton, Rachel Hampton. OK, so you can also hit them with me because our names do not immediately lend themselves to fun puns.

S3: Yeah. Honestly, I hate most things on Twitter, but I feel like this is a good thing that we can unite on. We’re good to go to the sack full of candy that y’all have given us. First up, at spitter only on Twitter wants us to explain what the heck is up with the $40 haunted houses.


S4: This is true. Spinner only did ask what is up with the 40 dollar haunted house. They also included a nice little video of them scrolling through a Twitter search for the phrase $40 haunted house. And it’s true a lot of people are tweeting about $40. Haunted houses.

S3: Where did this originate? Spinner O’Neil wants to know. Madison, you did some digging. And what do you like to presidential terms in the past? Like what? I didn’t realize how long this trend was going.

S4: Yeah, this trend actually originated from a tweet in 2013 that I forget about annually until someone resurfaces it to my timeline. And then I laugh. In 2013 at Hodges Boy, 15, tweeted, If I pay $40 for a haunted house, I better die. I feel like forty dollars


S3: is pretty cheap for euthanasia, and

S4: we attempted several times to get in touch with Hodges Boy, 15, but we were unsuccessful. Although Hodges was 15, why do we not accept my Snapchat friend request? Please, I just want to talk.

S3: Did you have to redownload Snapchat for this?

S4: Yes, absolutely. Never say I’m not committed to this podcast.

S3: I mean, I’m looking at your face right now, and I know you’re committed to this podcast. But so Hodgins, boy, 15, isn’t the only person in the world who’s had this thought. Either that or he inspired this thought because they are now so many variations on this tweet.


S4: My personal favorite one is why pay forty dollars for a haunted house when I could just go for a night run? Which damn, if that’s true.

S3: I feel like this is where I have to disclose that I have actually paid $40 for a haunted house before, and clearly I didn’t die, so I didn’t get my money’s worth. I was very scared.

S4: Do you enjoy the fright?

S3: I mean, adrenaline is fun. Did I think I was going to die at some point? Yes. Did I know?

S4: So ultimately not worth it?

S3: No, I honestly wouldn’t recommend.

S4: Next up, Abby Bowerman sent us a vine that I had completely forgotten about until now. We’re going to play it for you. Look at its fucking backs. I love Halloween. This is a four second video of what appears to be like a little three year old in front of a wall with some paper bats on it. And, well, it’s freaking bats. I love Halloween. I don’t know what else there is to tell you.

S3: Well, important. She’s holding her phone and what I describe as the mom pose where you only see, like the top third of her face. Yeah, yeah. So she’s she’s an old soul.

S4: Where is that little girl now? We thought you might ask her name is Ava Ryan. She’s now 11, and she’s kind of an influencer.

S3: I’m sorry. What?

S4: Well, her mom’s old

S3: enough to qualify for an Instagram

S4: account. No, technically no. Her mom has an Instagram account where she has a half a million Instagram followers and still posts Ava content on the regular.


S3: I’m assuming that they had to repost the bad stuff this month.

S4: Oh, absolutely. And yes, they are selling Frickin Batz merch. And yes, this is the most unsurprising in 2020. One conclusion to this story possible.

S3: Honestly, it’s kind of scary. Next up, we’ve got at Hello, Kiki. Currently, Spooky, which is Madison. How do you pretty good? OK, good. OK, there we go. Who also since has an excellent vine? Thank you all for using this time of year to bring back the most important app to ever exist, which is Vine.

S4: We’re going to play this for you, but it’s just music. It’s a play on the October 31st versus November 1st meme, which is when you make the hard and possibly, maybe too early pivot to Christmas. The minute Halloween, the month of October is over.

S2: So you should.

S4: This vine is a scene from, I believe, Project Runway very confusing, because Carson from Queer Eye and RuPaul are both on the judges panel, which really fucking up my reality TV knowledge. No, I was just like,

S3: where what crossover is this

S4: the most iconic crossover event in history? But the model is coming down the stage in this like full on black sequin outfit, while Spooky scary skeletons is playing. And then the minute it switches to the it’s the lyric Give a fuck, it’s Christmas. The minute it switches to the Christmas song, the outfit like comes untied and becomes sparkly red plaid. Because now it’s Christmas time that Vine

S3: is actually kind of a perfect segue way into our final submission, which comes from Show Hasa, they write as a Tumblr veteran hello comrade who still goes on there at least once a day now no longer multiple. My staple is always the Spooky Scary Skeletons remix, and we could not agree more.


S4: It is my professional opinion as a owner of a blood lab that that song is a bop I can’t take, you see. Whip out, boys,

S3: and it’s so hard to describe just how fucked this lipstick is.

S4: All right, I’ll go back to my own voice after the break. We are going deep on Spooky scary skeletons. We’re going to be talking with Victoria Gold, whose father Andrew Gold wrote the song as part of a children’s album for Victoria and her two sisters in the early 90s. Victoria rediscovered the song on Tik Tok, where she has since gone viral herself this Spooky season.

S3: When we originally set out to learn absolutely everything we could about Spooky scary skeletons, we didn’t expect, though what we find would be incredibly wholesome and heartwarming. But it was.

S4: We’ll be sharing the joy with you when we come back.

S1: Spooky scary. Scary to send shivers down your spine.

S3: Don’t quit your day job

S2: such a you. You’ll be surprised when you hear these.

S4: All right, we are back. So, Rachel, you know, the song Spooky scary skeletons, right?

S3: I think it’s impossible to be on the internet and not know the song Spooky scary skeletons. It’s a bop.

S4: It is, and I thought I knew all there was to know about it, which is just that it’s bop. Until the other day I was lying in bed, as one does scrolling through TikToks, and I came across a video from at the Victoria Gold, and it’s her facing the camera. The song is playing in the background, and the caption on screen says that time of year where my late dad’s song is all over the internet from a Halloween album, he wrote, for my sisters and me when we were kids. Rachel had questions. I had questions, so we called up Victoria and we asked them my dad.


S5: His name was Andrew Gold, and he wrote this whole Halloween album called Halloween Howls in nineteen ninety six, and that’s when it came out. I was five years old, my older sister was seven and my little sister was about one. So he wrote this whole album for us, and that’s the first time I heard it when he was writing it in our at home studio.

S1: We’re so sorry.

S2: Skelton’s is so misunderstood. You only

S1: want to socialise,

S2: but I don’t think we should Spooky school

S1: to shout start. Please really screams.

S4: Was it the kind of thing where you would like test out the lyrics on you and your sisters?

S5: Honestly, I can’t remember that, but I do remember that he brought us in for a few songs, and I have vivid memories of recording songs with one of my best friends in his studio. I’m sure at the time I was just slightly embarrassed by my dad. You know, dads are embarrassing. I didn’t think much of it.

S4: He was nailing it.

S5: Yeah, exactly. He was being such a dad.

S3: Was Halloween a big deal in your house?

S5: It was my it, especially for my dad and I. We always just shared this love for Spooky witchy things, and we would get so excited in the fall and it started to get a little colder and it felt like there was magic in the air. And he loved it to put on a scary mask on Halloween and scare trick or treaters. That was his favourite thing to do, so I would say it was a pretty big deal for us.

S1: We’ll show them with a new monster mash mash called Yeah, single


S4: on this CD. I’m now realizing like, Oh, this was for sure what played in like my elementary school Halloween parties like this monster mash cover? Familiar.

S5: Yes. Honestly, the most people tell me about it is that their teachers used to play it for them in school, back in, like the late 90s. So that checks out.

S1: I was working in the lab late one night with my eyes filled. An eerie sight for my monster from the slab began to rise

S2: and suddenly, to my surprise, the Marsh hit the Malone.

S4: When did you discover it’s Second Life as a remix? Because there’s the original, which is sort of a sweet children’s song. And then it got an internet remix where the beat goes a little harder. And perhaps you’re doing a little more than eating candy corn and drinking apple cider with your five-year-old friends. Yeah, it’s full on rave and

S5: shivers down your spine. I would say it was definitely. It was like late 2019. We’re visiting my fiancee’s family for the holidays for Christmas 2019, and one of my soon to be nephews was being really shy. And his dad was like, Just ask her, ask her, it’s OK. And I was like, Oh, what? And he was like, Is your dad singing Spooky scary skeletons? And I was like, First of all, how do you know that song? And then he showed me his Tik Tok when doing the whole dance to it that I don’t, I can’t even do. And that was when I first heard it. And then, of course, I wasn’t on TikTok at the time. But as a lot of millennials did an early quarantine, we joined TikTok and Drag Victoria.


S4: Yeah, I know

S5: it was kind of a joke and then we all became addicted to it. So now of course, I hear it all the time.

S3: So you were kind of totally unaware of the Second Life as a remix until your nephew showed you that video. What was it like seeing that video?

S5: I was kind of in disbelief, like, who made this and how did they find this song? It’s just so obscure. But I also didn’t really understand that it had gotten as big as a guy, and I just thought, you know, it was just a couple of people knew this remix and a few people were doing a dance to it. I didn’t realize it was such a phenomenon, and I honestly didn’t realize it was such a phenomenon until I started hearing it in TV commercials and merchandise. And then I, you know, I made a take talk about it, and I just did not expect it to. Blow up, and that was a really shocking to me, but also pretty cool.

S4: What made you decide to post about the song on Tik Tok?

S5: Honestly, it was so random spur of the moment I take a bath every night. I just got in on the bath and I was sitting on my bed with a towel on like you do for scrolling for an

S4: hour or so. You’re describing every single night of my body, right?

S5: And I was just like, Oh, I heard the song. So I was like, Oh, I’ll just post like, Oh, that time of year again, where my dad’s song is all over the internet. And I just post it like I was literally sitting with a towel on to not think anything of it. I had worked so hard and so many other TikToks that got literally like 11 views. So the fact that I didn’t think about this one and then posted it didn’t think about it. And then the next day I was driving upstate to Napa. I’m actually I’m a wedding photographer, so I was driving up to photograph a wedding, and one of my brides texted me and was like, You’re on my for you page. And I was like, Oh haha, cool thinking. Like, what video is on her for you page? And then I opened it up, and at the time I had two hundred thousand views, which I was like, Oh my gosh, I turned to my mom like, Oh my gosh, I’m going viral. But you know, now it’s gotten a lot more than that. Last time I checked, it was, I think, three point eight million. Oh, yeah. Just a


S4: few. Yeah, just a few of you. What’s been the most surprising response so far to the Tik Tok and subsequent TikToks?

S5: I think for me, the most surprising response is just how many people actually knew who my dad was. Even outside of Spooky scary skeletons because he was a musician all his life, and he wrote a lot of songs, but nothing, you know, two crazy big. And sometimes I would mention his name many people and they have no idea who I’m talking about. So the fact that so many people reached out who were fans was really cool to see.

S4: OK, I’m going to hype your dad a little more here because thank you for being a friend. The Golden Girls theme song, A Banger of Ball is going to

S3: say, You can’t say there aren’t big hits with that. Absolute bop is everywhere like that?

S5: Yeah, that’s true. I’m glad you guys said it because I always feel like a weird, you know, hype in my own dad. But yeah,

S3: so your dad passed in 2011,

S4: right? Yes.

S3: How do you think he would react to, like, how lasting this song is?

S5: Oh my gosh. He would have loved it. It’s a struggle for a lot of like older musicians to kind of feel like they’re not relevant anymore, and I think it was a struggle for him. And the fact that he’s so relevant right now to so many generations, I think, is just he would have loved that he would not have expected it to be for this song, that’s for sure.

S4: It’s sort of like your ticktock, you know, all that time and effort and Spooky scary skeletons turn out to be the thing. There you go. Is there anything that people misunderstand about Spooky scary skeletons?


S5: I think that it’s just kind of heartwarming to know that the whole album in Spooky scary skeletons. Of course, being on that album was really written for his three daughters being one, five, seven years old. So there is a lot of love behind it, and it really is just to make people smile.

S4: You’re gonna make me cry. It was interesting. Something I learned watching your TikToks is that the song is not actually linked to that cartoon of the black and white dancing skeletons. In my mind, it had come from some like cartoon, which is not true, right?

S5: So many people were arguing with me in the comments. That’s how I knew I made it because people were arguing in the comments

S4: and they were

S5: telling me that. So I even started questioning if it was the original one because there are some covers on the album and there are only three covers and everything else is original. So when I saw that cartoon, I was like, Oh my gosh, should I just make this TikTok? And I’m completely wrong? But I double checked all good. That was that old Disney cartoon from the Forties. And then someone put his song the original song over it or the remix over or something much later.

S4: Victoria, do you get a little sentimental every Halloween thinking about this song in those early years with your dad?

S5: I do, especially now that I’ve been hearing it a lot more the last couple of years, but there was another song on the album that I was on as like a four year old called Creature from the tub. You can hear my four year old voice on it, so I always like listening to that because it’s just really, really cute. So I think that from that standpoint, yeah, I get a little nostalgic and sentimental listening to them.


S4: Creature from the tub. You mean like the tub you crawled out of to post this Tik Tok? It’s all coming together.

S5: This guy really played the long game when I was four years old. I thought about that

S4: and I thought, You

S5: know, I’m twenty five years from now. One day

S3: there’s. Going to be an app called tick tock.

S4: Yes, exactly. We’ll all be trapped at home. Exactly. Victoria this was an absolute blast. Thank you so much for talking with us and telling us all about your dad. It’s been. I can’t come up with any sort of skeleton pine, Rachel. You’re off the hook. It’s been great. No bones about it.

S5: Thank you so much. It was so nice to meet you both. I feel like I’ve just been talking to two friends, so it was a pleasure.

S1: It must have tentacles.

S4: Like once again, that was Victoria Gold. And if you listen carefully, this is creature from the top and you can hear little Victoria the creature herself.

S1: It likes to swirl around, well, these scrubs. Watch out for the creature from the tub stunning, yucky in here.

S3: All right. That is the show. We will be back in your fear on Wednesday, so definitely subscribe. As always, it’s free. A scary, good price of free. 99. And it’s the best way to never miss an episode. You can always leave us a rating and review an Apple Podcasts. You can also always tell your friends about us. You can also always follow us on Twitter at I See Why my underscore pod, which is also where you can email us your questions like spooky scary skeletons or $40. Haunted House. And you can also drop us those same questions that I say, Why am I at Who knows? We might have you on the show

S4: for a fun drinking game. Do a shot every time, Rachel said. Also in that outro,

S3: you might die spookily.

S4: The haunted house will not kill you, but that might. I see why my is produced by Daniel Schroeder and Samira Tazari, our supervising producer is Derek John Forrest Wickman and Allegra Frank are our editors, and Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate Podcast. See You Online

S3: or at a $40 Haunted House. Have you seen the gospel remix of, you know? Oh my God.

S5: Look it up. Yes.

S2: You will be ready. Oh yes, yes.

S4: OK, so we’re starting from the bottom now we’re here to oh yeah. Come on, we got to get them on the show. Yeah. Well, this is amazing. You knew the bad guys. OK.

S2: No big. Oh, yeah.

S1: Oh, hallelujah. OK.

S4: Yes, oh my gosh. My daughter will love. OK, we’re going again. No. Oh my God. Oh my God, I loved that he would

S5: have loved that. So cool.