January 16, 2019 / 6:17 AM

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'The Twilight Zone': Music Times Celebrates Rod Serling's Masterpiece with Michael Jackson, Rush, 2 Chainz and More



On this day during 1959, one of the greatest television shows in history made its debut (Editor's Note: This opinion is entirely, 100 percent in the mind of the writer): The Twilight Zone. Creator and narrator Rod Serling created a brand of terror that was so much more effective than the eye-rolling horror flicks of the time because it forced viewers to think, and think about what monsters lay subtle and dormant within themselves at that.

Unfortunately, the title didn't lend itself to any great music, or certainly not any music that can live up to the title. But here's five tracks that used The Twilight Zone as inspiration, for better or for worse.

"Twilight Zone" by Rush (1976)

There's no hiding that Rush and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart were hugely inspired by Serling and The Twilight Zone. However on an album that hosts the most famous of the prog rock band's conceptual journeys, "2112," why was the first single "The Twilight Zone" from the less memorable B-side? Peart has acknowledged the song is based on two sketches from the show in particular—"Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?" and "Stopover in A Quiet Town"—two great episodes that add up to one unusually boring Rush track. Serling's influence was put to better use apparently, as he is thanked in the liner notes for both Caress of Steel and A Farewell to Kings.

"Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring (1982)

Golden Earring wasn't a band based around paranormal activity but you wouldn't be able to tell after looking at its two biggest hits, the 1973 rumination on psychic booty calls ("Radar Love") and 1982's "Twilight Zone." The interesting thing is that, although referencing the title state, "Twilight Zone" isn't based on the sci-fi series at all: It's based on the book The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. If there's any doubt, check out the music video: Vocalist Barry Hay spends the whole bit on the run from the other members of the group who are attempting to nab him. So we suppose Golden Earring deserves points for being about 20 years ahead of Matt Damon's hit film series. Go for the extended version of the track that, like "Radar Love," is well worth the extra few minutes.

"Threatened" by Michael Jackson (2001)

Michael Jackson had a pretty solid record working with the voices of classic horror—after all, Vincent Price's narrative bridge for "Thriller" was a cherry on top of one of the greatest pop singles of all time. Unfortunately Serling had passed away before Jackson could tap him for any album after Music & Me (the TV icon died during 1975) so the pop star had to rely on a clip from The Twilight Zone when recording "Threatened" for 2001's Invincible. And a scary song it is, although not in the traditional method used by Serling on his show. Jackson repeatedly tells the listener that "you should feel threatened by me" while embarking on his stalker narrative. It, well, uh, left us a little unnerved.

"Twilight Zone" by Lupe Fiasco (2006)

You can interpret the verb "to Twilight Zone" in two ways when Lupe Fiasco drops it during this track from his mixtape Farenheit 1/15 Part 1 (The Truth Is Among Us): A) He could be saying that he's so talented a lyricist that it's almost a different dimension when he raps. That wouldn't be totally inaccurate when listening to this track but we're inclined to believe that he's comparing himself to the show itself, which while dwelling in impossible happenings, is still typically based on the lives of the common people. Toward the end of his song, Fiasco flashes to analogies of residents living on the tough side of town. Perhaps his "mind state, mind state" is the concept of being constantly aware of the issues around him, even as a successful emcee. The best song on this list by far.

"Twilight Zone" by 2 Chainz (2012)

For as great as Lupe Fiasco's Twilight Zone-themed track from his own mixtape was, there's always going to be a 2 Chainz to come around and cancel it out. The artist formerly known as "Tity Boi" included this sub-two minute joint that not surprisingly didn't make the cut for his album Based on a T.R.U. Story. Chainz doesn't actually mention the title show anywhere in his song and we doubt that even Serling would be able to draft a sci-fi short out of the rapper's typical narrative of making money, macking your woman and heading to the strip club. Yeesh.

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