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Soundtracks, Soundtracks, Soundtracks: Danny Elfman

Aug. 20, 2012by: Paul Huffman
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There are many things that make a movie what it is. It all starts with a story (according to what every How-To book on screenwriting tells us), there is the director and his crew, there are the actors, who bust their asses to bring a vision to life. Then comes the wonderful world of post-production. What is one result of that? The music. Soundtracks enhance the movie going experience. They can make us cry, they can pump us up, they can make us remember the 80's. Whether it be a musical band or a composer, soundtracks help our favorite movies stay etched in our mind forever.

Choosing to shine the spotlight on Danny Elfman this week was quite the roller-coaster. It all started with the excitement of the upcoming release of ParaNorman, then snowballed into reflecting on my appreciation for the art of stop motion animation, which resulted in nostalgia for one of my favorite animated films in Nightmare Before Christmas, which led to me singing 'Jack's Lament'. Here we are. Danny Elfman began his career as the lead singer for the rock band Oingo Boingo, and eventually moved on into the art of the film score where he became famous for his frequent collaborations with long time friend Tim Burton. He has been nominated for numerous awards including Oscars, Grammy's, Golden Globes, and even an Emmy for his work on the Desperate Housewives theme. He's given us many memorable pieces of music, and shows no signs of slowing down. Danny Elfman, we salute you.

1. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

I almost wanted to hold off until Halloween to feature this soundtrack, but that is no easy task when were working with quality like this. There is not a track on this listing that I dont know by heart, and for the last two years it has been a complete joy to have This is Halloween on repeat during trick or treat hours. With the older candy hounds voicing their appreciation for my undeniable musical taste that fits the festivities. Now excuse me while I go cruise around town with my brother, with Whats This on full blast the whole time. Purchase the soundtrack here

2. BATMAN RETURNS

Of all the tracks that Elfman created for Burtons Batman films Ive chosen to feature the one that strikes the biggest chord with me, which is the damn you for making me feel sympathy for the villain track during the finale of Batman Returns. Danny DeVito created a great, and at times sympathetic bad guy that I was sorry to see defeated thanks to Elfmans melancholy tune. How about those penguins taking Oswald to his final resting place, eh? Talk about tugging on the heart strings. They were all the poor bastard had in this world. Elfman understood the tragedy surrounding this particular rendition of the character, thats all part of the mans genius. Purchase the soundtrack here

3. PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE

What a mindf*ck this film was, huh? Tailor made for Burtons sensibilities and Elfman was right behind him doing what he does best. Danny boy perfectly captured the playfulness of what was really going on in this movie, not many people can take the assignment of a scoring a film about someones bicycle being stolen and make it work on the level that he did. Listening to the score suite as I write this, Im reminded of waiting in line for an attraction at Disneyland. Danny Elfman would score Its A Small World gone to hell. If a Pee-Wee sequel does indeed see the light of day, I will accept no one but Elfman working on it, a little throwback works sometimes. Purchase the soundtrack here

4. BIG FISH

Big Fish is my second favorite Tim Burton film. It was his last real imaginative effort if you ask me, and Elfmans work on the film was absolutely brilliant, an opinion that the Academys, the Golden Globes, and the Grammys tended to agree with that year. Ive always had a soft spot for stories about an old timer passing on what hes learned from a life well lived onto a younger generation, and this film and its soundtrack was a larger than life version of that formula. Its one of those films Ill show to my kids when they are old enough, and Burton and co. (Im looking at you Elfman) should be proud that they have a piece of work like that in their careers. Bravo. Purchase the soundtrack here

5. SPIDER-MAN

I remember the first teaser for the Raimis first Spider-Man film and the level of excitement both me and my father shared in the theater. Fast forward to the release and the rolling of the beginning credits and I was hooked. Looking back on the trilogy people have their opinions, some love it, some hate it, some have dismissed it now that we have a new franchise in the works that seems closer to the Spider-Man from comic book lore. But one thing that cant be denied is the energy that was put into the films, and the memorable theme that perfectly captured what a comic book movie should be. Hearing Elfmans work while the web slinger was doing his thing was a real treat to the ears, and a testament to the talent of the man. Purchase the soundtrack here

HONORABLE MENTION: EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
Extra Tidbit: Any lesser known Danny Elfman works you lot are a fan of?
Source: JoBlo
Tags: soundtracks

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3:05AM on 08/20/2012
Although it's not mentioned in the article, I like his work on Batman (1989) best, especially before the movie ends. When the camera tracks from Alfred's car and up to the building with ending theme goes up very triumphantly like "Da da da daaa. Da dadadada. Da Da Da Da Da Daaaaa" and the sound of the bell chime just fits the victorious moment of Batman where he's up on the roof looking at The Bat Signal. It's just perfect.
Although it's not mentioned in the article, I like his work on Batman (1989) best, especially before the movie ends. When the camera tracks from Alfred's car and up to the building with ending theme goes up very triumphantly like "Da da da daaa. Da dadadada. Da Da Da Da Da Daaaaa" and the sound of the bell chime just fits the victorious moment of Batman where he's up on the roof looking at The Bat Signal. It's just perfect.
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5:45AM on 08/20/2012
It's a forgettable film, but I kind of loved the music to Flubber and thought it was one of his best scores ever. Definitely a return to Pee-Wee style composing with a lot of mambo influences thrown in and it's a blast to listen to. Elfman fans should give the score a listen if they've never heard it before.
It's a forgettable film, but I kind of loved the music to Flubber and thought it was one of his best scores ever. Definitely a return to Pee-Wee style composing with a lot of mambo influences thrown in and it's a blast to listen to. Elfman fans should give the score a listen if they've never heard it before.
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7:32AM on 08/20/2012
Extra Tidbit: Real Steel was my favourite filmscore from last year.
Listen to a sample here: [link]
Extra Tidbit: Real Steel was my favourite filmscore from last year.
Listen to a sample here: [link]
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7:43AM on 08/20/2012
Also, WANTED - I've never listened to a Danny Elfman track more than this one: [link]
Also, WANTED - I've never listened to a Danny Elfman track more than this one: [link]
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3:35PM on 08/20/2012
BEETLEJUICE is my personal fav.
BEETLEJUICE is my personal fav.
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7:10PM on 08/20/2012

For Elfman scores not mentioned yet:

Sleepy Hollow is great, you get to hear Elfman do some spooky horror music but still maintain some tragic beauty. Hellboy 2 is good, and Alice in Wonderland has on of Elfman's best themes in years.
Sleepy Hollow is great, you get to hear Elfman do some spooky horror music but still maintain some tragic beauty. Hellboy 2 is good, and Alice in Wonderland has on of Elfman's best themes in years.
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7:44PM on 08/20/2012
Real Steel was surprisingly the best score last year. Knocked my socks off. And even though he gets a bit too wacky sometimes, he's done amazing music. Hard to go wrong with any of these: Alice in Wonderland, Spider-Man 1 & 2, Sommersby, Black Beauty, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Beetlejuice. Great music.
Real Steel was surprisingly the best score last year. Knocked my socks off. And even though he gets a bit too wacky sometimes, he's done amazing music. Hard to go wrong with any of these: Alice in Wonderland, Spider-Man 1 & 2, Sommersby, Black Beauty, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Beetlejuice. Great music.
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