The drag queen of Halloween is back to her horror business. Sharon Needles, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race season four, has a covers EP just in time for Halloween. Entitled SPOOPY, the six-track offering sees Needles covering seminal Samhain hits in her own electro-rock styling. Her love of old Hollywood, classic horror, and camp is palpable throughout each track, and it makes for a fun record, even if the runtime barely passes the fifteen minute mark.
Kicking things off is "Monster Mash," as made famous by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. While I'm slightly disappointed that the "wah-ooh" sections are nowhere to be found, Sharon makes a great cover out of a classic, capping it off with her signature cackle. The music video is campy as all hell, with a special appearance by a Joan Crawford-impersonating Alaska Thunderfuck. Long story short, it's damn fun.
Next comes what could be the most contentious cover of the record, "Highway to Hell." The guitars sound a bit old-school, like the production values came from the 70s or early 80s. It's a change of pace for the more dance/New Wave oriented Needles, but after a couple of listens, this interpretation grew on me.
"Spooky" by Classics IV comes in third on the EP, and it is a fun track. Sharon's vocals go more for a crooning tone, and the flirty, sensual nature of the lyrics gets a boost as a result. As a fan of the old fashioned ways, Sharon does this number justice, and revamps it for a new generation.
Next is a version of Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater," and as someone who had never heard the original before, I now have an appreciation for its spot in pop culture. This is what helps set SPOOPY apart from a lot of other covers. The careful choices and the balance between well-known songs that are on any given Spotify Halloween playlist and those that are a bit more obscure sets this record apart.
"Devil with the Blue Dress On" by Mitch Ryder comes in rocking and rolling, continuing the vibe of the previous track. Another one that may be lesser known to the iGeneration, Sharon's vocals and the production breathe new life into this golden oldies era classic.
Closing out the disc is "Somebody's Watching Me," as made famous by Rockwell. With this track, the EP ends on a high note, as this may be the strongest cover, the most Sharon track that could have been chosen for this record. The vocals haunting, the production maintaining the vibe of the original, and the groove is up front.
Overall, the tracklist was intelligently chosen, a couple of risks were taken, and it all leads to a strong outing for what Needles herself calls "SN 3.5." The real question is, what will SN 4 bring for the Queen of Halloween?