In addition to his rockin’ band, Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman has been a prominent composer and musician for film and television. While the 1980s had its fair share of decent music (especially the punk and new wave stuff), one of the best things to come out of that era was Mr. Elfman’s musical career. In honor of his birthday, PopHorror takes a look at the life and times of Danny Elfman.
If you’ve never heard Oingo Boingo, this high-energy, plain old crazy track should give you a rough estimate of what they bring to the table:
If you’ve watched film and television, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced some of Danny Elfman’s music. Ever watch The Simpsons? It’s only one of the most iconic TV series on TV. Mr. Elfman wrote the show’s instantly recognizable opening theme. In fact, it’s hard to think about The Simpsons without hearing that imaginative, playful music. By the time Homer pulls into the driveway, the mood is set.
Tim Burton Much?
Also, if you’re into Tim Burton movies, you’ve certainly heard Danny Elfman’s music. There’s Corpse Bride, Mars Attacks!, Batman, Beetlejuice (both the movie and animated series), Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (his film-scoring debut). Then, of course, there’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, featuring Elfman not only as composer but also as Jack Skellington’s singing voice. For some of us, that’s impressive enough.
Horror fans will recall Elfman’s music from Army of Darkness, as well as the opening theme to Tales From The Crypt. That’s right! When that wacky Cryptkeeper sits up in his coffin, part of our dark imaginations are humming the theme. Other places he’s appeared? Try Scrooged, Nightbreed, and Dick Tracy. There’s also the dark, Stephen King-based drama, Dolores Claiborne. How about Red Dragon? The list could go on and on, and would include other, non-horror projects as well.
If I may close on a personal anecdote: Back in my high school years, I started to get a little adventurous musically. I didn’t just want to listen to alternative, hard rock and metal music exclusively. I wanted to be varied. So, somewhere along the way, I picked up an album of classical music called Fright Classics, performed by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
It’s actually a pretty decent collection of kick-ass classical music. Among other things, there’s “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky, “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns, and “Marche Funebre des Marionettes” by Charles Gounod [AKA The Alfred Hitchcock theme]. But the final track on the album is “Batman Robin Hood” by Danny Elfman. What an excellent choice that was! It was as if to say, “Yes, these other themes were all legends of their time, but the ball is still rolling.” Indeed, it is.