October’s breeze whistles through dangling hazels, nature’s wind chime alerting everyone to fall’s embrace. Autumn is now in full swing. Orange trees and the smell of pumpkin create a serenity this time of year is defined by. That peace is only short lived, for with every passing day, we are one step closer to fearful and spooky Halloween night, one of my favorite holidays.
One of Halloween’s most popular traits is how malleable its definition can be. If you fancy yourself a thrill seeker, Halloween can be the day you spend all night terrifying yourself with scary movies. It can be an opportunity to impress family and friends with the handiwork of a good costume, or just an excuse to eat lots of candy. I like to dabble in all of these styles of Halloween expression over the course of the month, but eating candy will always be what I look forward to most.
Right now, however, is still just the beginning of the month, so I’ve been keeping the celebration low-key, mostly just watching some old Goosebumps episodes and skimming through spooky YouTube videos with my sister. It’s a sort of lighthearted, cartoonish introduction to the season for us. One video that exemplifies that sort of cheesy Halloween theme is “Goosebumps” by the band Lemon Demon, a stage name for artist Neil Cicierega.
This short article is honestly just an excuse to talk about Neil Cicierega, one of the most interesting and eventful content creators in the history of the medium, and his YouTube channel. Most widely known for his “Potter Puppet Pals” skits that rose to internet fame over a decade ago, Cicierega has stayed active on YouTube, randomly dropping creative masterpieces that are some of the best of what the entire website has to offer. From his aforementioned shorts based on Harry Potter, to short comedic skits like With Flare, to the outright strange like Guide to Tom Hanks and Ariel Needs Legs, Cicierega’s creative output is as amazingly unpredictable as his release schedule. Through his many years of production, he’s developed a repertoire of classics that are some of the best short videos I have ever seen. He has plenty more spooky, comedic shorts to pick from that are more appropriate for the times, a few of which I’ve included in this post.
He is also, as mentioned before, a musician. He is a musician in the traditional sense as seen with Lemon Demon, but also in another more unique, Cicieregian way. Over the course of the past six or seven years, Cicierega has whipped up an entire discography revolving around the concept of throwing the most popular pop songs into the cauldron and concocting an entirely new musical experience. Each project contains entire generations worth of pop songs transformed into a Frankenstein’s monster sort of audio experience, all titled under the “Mouth” moniker. As if by divine ordinance, Neil shakes these hits down to their foundations and pieces them all together in a jumbled fashion that is right in all the wrong ways. Of course, it is only fitting that these mashups frequently sound better than the original classics sound on their own, as if they were always broken and it took until Neil’s prowess to lift the curtain and reveal to us musical truth. Combining “Tubthumping,” “Two Princes,” and “Semi-Charmed Life” into a song about…piss...is an achievement in and of itself, but turning “Best of You,” “You’re the Best,” and the Folgers Coffee Jingle into an actually good song? Amazing. Neil Cicierega is a musical genius, and the Hot 100 is his canvas.
In fact, just a few days ago, Cicierega released the fourth “Mouth” album, Mouth Dreams. This is the first “Mouth” album in over three years, and I have been listening to it while writing this piece. I strongly recommend giving it a spin if you’re curious as to what all this lyrical wizardry actually sounds like.
This doesn’t even include all of his artistic expressions. Cicierega has also created a Twitter account that auto-generates titles for fake Goosebumps books (because of course he did) and CREATED A VIDEO GAME WHERE YOU BREED MONSTERS THAT YOU CAN PLAY ON YOUR BROWSER RIGHT NOW. As diverse as his creations are, Neil does seem to have an affinity for the spine-chilling and macabre perfect for this time of year.
In a ballet act few thought possible, some of his videos combine all of these talents simultaneously to create a fever dream of a performance. Shorts like Aaron and Mister Basement are a display of his best efforts, and they pass in flying colors.
Then, as mentioned before, there is no deficiency of the short and strange.
Throughout this article and below, I’ve embedded several of my personal favorites. I could’ve easily picked anything else from his YouTube channel or SoundCloud, seeing as everything is magnificent. Watch whatever seems interesting, or browse through his channel on your own, I promise you won’t regret it. Feel free to check him out, or not, because it’s Saturday night, and you know how it is on Saturday night. Bend but don’t break some of the rules in the comments.
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