It’s now 200 years since the teenage Mary Shelley experienced her “waking dream” about a “pale student of the unhallowed arts” building and animating “the hideous phantasm of a man”, subsequently worked into her first novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Her story, themes and characters have echoed powerfully and iconically down the centuries, inspiring the entire Gothic, science fiction and horror genres and spinning off into countless remakes and rip-offs, as well as these top 10 Frankentunes.
ALICE COOPER – Teenage Frankenstein
There’s no doubting Alice Cooper’s devotion to the theme. Where 1988’s Feed My Frankenstein interpreted the evergreen monster with adolescent sexual metaphors (“furry teacup” indeed), this 1986 Friday The 13th Part VI soundtrack anthem used it as an analogy for the alienation experienced by the unattractive, uncoordinated teenager.
THE EDGAR WINTER GROUP – Frankenstein
Suggested by drummer Chuck Ruff, the title of this all-time classic rock instrumental chart-topper was inspired by the process of splicing together bits of tape, to edit the song down from a sprawling jam to a three-minute single. Winter approved of the comparison, further citing the tune’s “monster-like, lumbering beat”.
METALLICA – Some Kind Of Monster
Metallica frontman James Hetfield reputedly described this song’s lyrics to producer Bob Rock as concerning ‘a Frankenstein creature’. The vagueness of the title is justified by the opaque lyrics, a waffly stream of consciousness listing this creature’s multiple harrowing attributes in a poetic form reminiscent of Sad But True.
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HELLOWEEN – Dr Stein
A crazy-fun single from the German power metallers’ breakthrough album. The first line makes clear Dr Stein is our Dr Victor Frankenstein, presumably rebadging himself after his initial disaster. Helloween pick up the story from Shelley, asserting “Dr Stein grows funny creatures” who “become great rock musicians”. Although at least one online song analysis thinks it’s about Jesus.
WARFARE – Baron Frankenstein
This shambolic NWOBHM power trio didn’t think their 1990 Hammer Horror album was a worthy enough tribute to the beloved film company, so they re-recorded the whole thing three years later, even sourcing affectionate liner notes from Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, warmly paying tribute to “a rock band of the stature of Warfare”.
CLUTCH – Frankenstein
“How would you like to dine a la Frankenstein?” asks Clutch frontman Neil Fallon, and our first instinct is to wonder whether he means the doctor or the monster. However, the reference to “an apple the shape of a fish” suggests the song’s target is genetically modified ‘Frankenstein food’, a big news issue at the time.
ROB ZOMBIE – Jesus Frankenstein
In 1999, this Frankenstein fanboy released Rob Zombie Presents The Words & Music Of Frankenstein, an LP of hand-picked excerpts from 1930s movie soundtracks, and Rob Zombie readily admits he’s longing to direct a remake. Until then, he’ll concern himself with this peculiar monstrous/messianical mish-mash.
MISFITS – Ghost Of Frankenstein
Although Jerry Only’s brother had been Misfits’ guitarist under the name Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (whose solo project was named Gorgeous Frankenstein), this was the horror-punks’ first unambiguous musical homage to the wayward doctor, sharing its title and story with a 1942 movie, the fourth Frankenstein film made by Universal Studios.
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT – The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria
It was Hammer Films who turned Shelley’s obsessive scientist into an aristocratic psychopathic. That’s the Frankenstein Blue Öyster Cult serenade with this hard-rocking cut from 1988’s bonkers sci-fi concept album Imaginos (originally intended as a trilogy of double-albums), Imaginos appearing in the form of Peter Cushing’s Baron to introduce fearsome new technologies to the world.
RAMMSTEIN – Mutter
The German lyrics to Rammstein’s mournful 2001 title track suggest the perspective of an artificially constructed human, attacking its “mother” for bringing it into the world as a cruel experiment. It feeds into the fundamental principles of Shelley’s original Frankenstein concept, the sensitive, unloved monster lamenting its own existence, rebelling against its creator.