Mondo celebrates the landmark musical episode of the iconic series

Lend an ear to SPINEMA: a column exploring all movie music, music related to movies, and movies related to music. Be they film scores on vinyl, documentaries on legendary musicians, or albums of original songs by horror directors, all shall be reviewed here. Batten down your headphones, because shit’s about to sound cinematic.

Sixteen years after Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air, the show continues to add to its cherished fanbase. With its mythology, language, visuals, social commentary, championing of strong female figures, and flat out entertainment, it swiftly went from cult classic to being seared into pop culture. Like any other show, it had standout episodes that rise to the top of many ‘best of’ lists; one regularly listed is Once More with Feeling. Airing during the show’s sixth season, one mired in the melancholy of its titular character’s resurrection from the dead, it was an episode that offered both respite and catharsis.

The musical elements of the episode stem from the accidental summoning of a demon named Sweet (Tony Award winner Hinton Battle), one who forces the residents of Sunnydale to express their innermost feelings through song and dance. This ranges from tunes about mustard spills to existential crises about being plucked from the afterlife. Rather than going down as a jumping the shark moment, it became appreciated as one of the most clever and iconic episodes in the show’s seven year run. Some of the cast, such as Anthony Stewart Head, were naturally talented singers; Michelle Trachtenberg also put her ballet skills to good use, while others such as Alyson Hannigan (Willow) were used more sparingly. The use of the actors and their more unpolished vocals certainly gives the episode emotional heft and charm. Above the delivery, it wasn’t just a gimmick; expression through these mediums led to a release for the characters, each unburdening themselves of long gestating fears and secrets. Show creator Joss Whedon penned the hella catchy songs, layered with meaning and callbacks in a way only he could. It’s not every show that is able to be so creatively bold and push those involved into new areas, and Once More with Feeling did both.

The vinyl is housed in specially commissioned packaging, featuring artwork by Paul Mann. The whole cast is beautifully rendered on the cover, and the back is given a vintage LP look, while the gate-fold depicts one of the early scenes in the episode where Buffy has her first musical outburst about “going through the motions.

The vinyl itself is 180 gram, shown here in the blue and red swirl with a black splatter version, which is sold out. There is a red version still available at the Mondo store.

One of the nice little touches is the inclusion of a “Slaybill,” which in addition to being a solid pun, also delivers a letter from show creator Joss Whedon and a list of all the songs and respective lyrics from the episode.

In all, it’s the perfect release for those people who fit into the Venn crossover of vinyl and Buffy fans. A catchy and smart series of dittys, beautifully packaged, to deliver a reminder of one of the most iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes to come from the mind of Joss Whedon.

Copies of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Once More with Feeling Vinyl are available at the Mondo store.

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