9 Freddy Krueger Songs and the Stories Behind Them
- in Movie Lists
The A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise gave us one of the greatest cinematic slashers of all time. Its score is on par with the music and sound design in Halloween and the Friday the 13th series. But while Jason Vorhees was memorialized in Alice Cooper's "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)" from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and The Ramones famously sang about Pet Cemetery, no horror icon has been better immortalized in popular song than the Springwood Slasher himself, Frederick Charles "Freddy" Krueger.
Here we present 9 of the best Freddy Krueger themed songs to brighten your nightmares in hues of red and green. That screeching sound you hear? It's either Freddy dragging his finger knives across some metal in his spooky boiler room, or it's some neighborhood alley cats reacting to the high notes in Dream Warriors
In chronological order: one, two, here's some Freddy Krueger songs for you...
S.O.D. - "Freddy Krueger" (1985)
S.O.D. (Stormtroopers Of Death) was a side-project formed by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, Anthrax drummer and behind-the-scenes guitar slinging riff-master Charlie Benante, former Anthrax bassist Danny Lilker (later of Nuclear Assault and Brutal Truth) and friend/frenemy/roadie Billy Milano.
Speak English or Die is remembered as one of the first true "crossover" albums to combine heavy metal and hardcore punk, as well as a controversial if overtly comedic attack on the nascent idea of "political correctness."
A cult classic, the album eventually sold over 1 million copies around the world, despite only being supported by a handful of live performances, including the hilariously titled 1992 reunion gig, Live at Budokan (which was of course recorded in New York City vs. the famous Japanese concert hall where Cheap Trick made the real Live at Budokan in the late seventies).
Ian had sketched up a cartoon character called Sergeant D. while making Anthrax's second album, Spreading the Disease. S.O.D. gave voice to Sgt. D's Archie Bunker styled views on politics and social issues, in songs like "Speak English or Die."
They also had a song that paid tribute to another bad mannered miscreant of course, titled simply, "Freddy Krueger." After their initial short-lived tenure, S.O.D. would reunite and reform off-and-on until about ten years ago, producing two more studio albums: Bigger than the Devil in 1999 and Rise of the Infidels in 2007.
M.O.D. - "Man of Your Dreams" (1987)
After S.O.D.s original short-lived tenure, Milano formed the soundalike band M.O.D. (aka Method Of Destruction), who paid tribute to Krueger a second time on their debut album, U.S.A. for M.O.D., with the song "Man of Your Dreams."
Freddy's Greatest Hits by The Elm Street Group (1987)
New Line Cinema wasn't behind this but Robert Englund made several appearances on the recording and graces the cover in full makeup, as well. This novelty album mixes up new takes on classic dream-themed songs like Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour," the Everly Brothers' "All I Have to Do is Dream," with original tracks like "Down in the Boiler Room" and "Don't Sleep." We super fans often credit/blame (depending on your point of view) A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master with watering Krueger down to the less-than-scary hack-y comedian, but it's important to note this album was released a year before Renny Harlin put Freddy on the beach.
DOKKEN - "Dream Warriors" (1987)
Easily the song most associated with Freddy Krueger aside from the series' haunting theme and the ghostly children's lullaby all fans can recite by heart, "Dream Warriors" was written for the film of the same name, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which marked series creator Wes Craven's return to the franchise.
'Though Craven left the production over creative differences, it's considered the second best in the series, behind only the original entry. Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead) and Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Scorpion King) also worked on the script, with Russell directing.
Dream Warriors starred Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker, a girl with the ability to bring other people into her dreams. The movie brought back Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson and John Saxon as her father, Donald Thompson, from the original, and of course, Englund returning as Freddy. Laurence Fishburne has a small role and there were memorable cameos from Zsa Zsa Gabor and talk show host Dick Cavett.
"Dream Warriors" was written and recorded by the classic Dokken lineup of singer Don Dokken, guitar hero George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown, who reunited in 2016 for a series of Japanese shows and a single U.S. appearance. (Dokken and Brown still perform as Dokken with a different lineup).
The band interacts with Freddy in the music video, which received regular airplay on MTV.
DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE - "Nightmare On My Street" (1988)
As music industry legend has it, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince recorded this song for the soundtrack to A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and even filmed a music video for it. But New Line Cinema rejected the song and video.
In fact, "Jazz" (whose birth certificate reads Jeffrey Allen Townes) confirmed as much in answer to a fan on Twitter in 2015, declaring, "about 5 people on Earth has [sic] seen that video!!!" It's important to note that DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince weren't widely known at the time, to say nothing of the A-lister movie career that laid ahead for the Fresh Prince under his given name, Will Smith.
The duo changed the lyrics to remove any copyright infringing references to A Nightmare on Elm Street trademarks and released the song on their sophomore album instead. He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, the first double-album in hip-hop music, was released in 1988. The first single, "Brand New Funk," was not a hit.
But then came "Parents Just Don't Understand," which won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance and helped sell millions of copies of the album, which was certified triple-platinum in 1995. "A Nightmare on My Street" was released as the third single from the album, reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. LP pressings of the album came with a sticker that clarified the song "is not part of the soundtrack and is not authorized, licensed, or affiliated with the Nightmare on Elm Street films."
FAT BOYS - "Are You Ready for Freddy?" (1988)
Yes, it's true: when the Fat Boys recorded "Are You Ready for Freddy?" for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, they were much bigger rap stars than DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. The Fat Boys were also bigger movie stars than Will Smith. Not only had they appeared in Run-D.M.C.'s 1985 feature film, Krush Groove, but they had headlined their own comedy vehicle, 1987's Disorderlies, which presented the trio as Three Stooges-esque comedic actors for the hip-hop generation.
Those wacky and slapstick personas carried on in the music video for "Are You Ready for Freddy?", where the Fat Boys must survive a night in the Elm Street house in order to claim a big inheritance from an "Uncle Fredrick." In the early to mid '80s, Prince Markie Dee, Kook Rock-Ski, and Buff Love were early MTV stars and had hit singles with remakes of The Surfaris "Wipe Out" (featuring The Beach Boys) and "The Twist" (featuring Chubby Checker, who had first made it a hit in 1960).
After the group split, Prince Markie Dee went on to produce early singles for Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige.
Buff Love died of a heart attack in 1995.
VINNIE VINCENT INVASION - "Love Kills" (1988)
We aren't finished with The Dream Master yet! The franchise was eager to ride the momentum of the "Dream Warriors" video from Dokken, bankrolling the "Love Kills" music video from lesser-known hair metal act Vinnie Vincent Invasion.
Vinnie Vincent is best known as a former guitarist for KISS. 'Though Ace Frehley and later Bruce Kulick appeared on the album cover, Vinnie Vincent actually appeared on the 1982 album Creatures of the Night and subsequently toured as Ace's replacement in full makeup as the "Ankh Warrior" designed by Paul Stanley.
Vincent was with KISS when they famously shed the makeup in a televised interview with late OG MTV VJ JJ Jackson, writing and performing on 1983's Lick it Up.
Following his acrimonious split with KISS, he formed Vinnie Vincent Invasion, releasing two studio albums and playing with lineups that included two future members of the band Slaughter. The video for "Love Kills," a song also featured on the band's second album, sees Vincent in Freddy's hat and sweater, scraping the glove along the neck of his guitar before playfully teasing the camera with it.
Vincent actually co-wrote the songs "Unholy" and "I Just Wanna" with KISS for their 1992 album Revenge, their first Top 10 album since 1979's Dynasty. That reunion also proved to be short-lived. Vinnie Vincent has been a reclusive and mysterious figure more or less ever since, 'though organizers announced the 65 year old guitarist would make an appearance at the Atlanta Kiss Expo in January 2018.
GOO GOO DOLLS - "I'm Awake Now" (1991)
Seven years before "Iris" from the City of Angels soundtrack would spend a full YEAR on the Billboard charts, the Goo Goo Dolls paired their second single with another feature film, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, the purported "final" installment of the Elm Street franchise.
Of course, there'd eventually be Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) on the heels of the success of Scream, the long-awaited franchise crossover Freddy vs. Jason (2003), and the forgettable 2010 remake of the original, just as the Goo Goo Dolls would eventually achieve massive commercial success with albums like A Boy Named Goo and Dizzy Up the Girl.
The video for "I'm Awake Now" sees the trio flipping through the channels and falling asleep while watching Freddy on TV, which leads them to the dreamworld, where Freddy stalks them in an old theater. It's sort of hilarious that the song is called "I'm Awake Now," given that frontman Johnny Rzeznik looks like he's about to nod off during most of his performance.
FREDDY KRUEGER - "Flicka Da Wrist"
No list of Freddy Krueger songs would be complete without this, a parody of the debut single from rapper Chedda Da Connect of the same name.
The inescapably catchy club banger has gotten the remix treatment from Fetty Wap, 2 Chainz, Migos, Soulja Boy, T.I., and Rick Ross, among others, but our focus of course is on the take by this rapping "Freddy Krueger."
This music video, while the very definition of unofficial, has higher production values than anything else on this list, thanks to the more accessible and more advanced tools available to the people who made it. Clearly, everyone involved in the creative process for this Kruegeriffic take on "Flicka Da Wrist" were massive Elm Street fans, just like us.
There are also of course the various times Freddy himself rapped and rocked in the anthology TV series, Freddy's Nightmares, where Freddy played host and sometimes star.
We have to give an honorable mention to the 2016 concept album from indie rapper MC Chris, Mc Chris is Dreaming, which is all about Freddy Krueger. And when it comes to rap lyrics in general? Well the list is as endless as the screams from Freddy's chest of souls. Krueger has been name checked in songs by Big Daddy Kane, Tupac, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, Migos, Lupe Fiasco, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil' Wayne, Mac Miller, Young Thug, Redman, El-P, Ludacris, Riff Raff, Waka Flocka Flame, The Game, Ice-T, Geto Boys, Gucci Mane, and so many, many more.
"Weird Al" Yankovic even shouts him out in the song "The Night Santa Went Crazy."