Even more music to make you feel epic – Beetlejuice

BeetlejuiceWell, this music might make you feel more manic than epic but it’s still some awesome music.

There are some composers whose work is extremely recognizable. For me, Danny Elfman is the one that I can pick out usually within a few notes. While I’d heard his stuff with Oingo Boingo growing up I don’t think I sat up and paid real attention to his music until I watched Beetlejuice. I remember being young and knowing that just the opening chords of the main title, complete with the creepy sounds of “Daylight come and me wan’ go home…” scared me even then but I loved the music.

Many years later I still think Danny Elfman is a musical genius (though he kinda missed on Terminator: Salvation in my opinion) and I find myself listening to the Beetlejuice soundtrack with a more critical and appreciative ear. There is almost always a manic quality to his compositions that you can pick out in movie scores and even in his regular songs. It’s quite possible this quality, plus his use of brass and other wind instruments that are so memorable. Many composers love to lean on their strings and often I feel that the wind instruments are put on the backburner in scores but Danny Elfman has no hesitation giving those winds a more prominent place in the orchestration.

With the Beetlejuice soundtrack the low brass shine and run with that bass line that is unmistakable. The woodwinds and strings shine through with their runs and trills. The brighter brass sounds of the trumpets add to the manic feel, giving it an almost out of control circus feel to the music.

And that’s just the opening titles!

Other tracks bring in the strings with an almost tango feel to their choice of notes and rhythms. The lighter melodies when the Maitland’s are still alive and later at the end of the movie are uplifting and make you feel as though the good times are rolling right along. Other tracks are much darker….for example the track “The Incantation” starts off with the drum, letting you know that we’re in the darker part of the movie. You remember this scene, where Otho begins the exorcism. That track flows right into “Lydia Strikes a Bargin…” and you can almost speak the words right along with the soundtrack as she says that name three times. Then there’s the pause for the famous words: “It’s Showtime!” and that moves right into the track of the same name. In that particular bit of music the normally flowing melody that we heard in the opening titles is now broken up as though it’s being put together with patches between. Luckily it only serves to heighten the sense of anticipation.

The soundtrack also includes the tracks “Day-O” and “Jump In Line” by Harry Belafonte. And you know that those will be stuck in your head for days after listening. Heck, I caught myself singing “Day-O” in the shower this morning before work.

As you can tell, I’m rather fond of the soundtrack in general and when I’m listening to it while driving I often get a creepy smile on my face and a lead foot. There’s just something about Danny Elfman’s music that makes me drive faster without realizing it.

What do you think of the Beetlejuice soundtrack? Do you prefer one of Danny Elfman’s other scores to this one? Let me know!