Movie Tunes: The Nightmare Before Christmas

This week’s Movie Tunes is the very classic soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film has been released in 3-D IMAX theaters for the past two Halloweens, and a special edition soundtrack was released with a bonus disc of cover tunes and demos.

The first disc is a nice mix of pure instrumental tracks and songs from scenes in the movie. Track 3 is the quintessential track from the movie titled “This Is Halloween.” It is the opening scene of the movie, and sets the tone for the slightly dark children’s comedy that this is.

In the following track, “Jack’s Lament,” composer Danny Elfman shows he’s not only an extremely talented composer, but also has a lovely singing voice. Elfman provided the voice for the beloved main character Jack Skellington.

Track 6, “What’s This,” accompanies one of the most memorable scenes of my childhood movie viewing (I was nine the year the movie came out). Jack Skellington accidentally lands in Christmastown, and sings and dances around with absolute delight at the beautiful things that he finds. It’s a joyful song about discovery – about the first time seeing snow, or a decorated Christmas tree.

The next interesting track is “Kidnap the Sandy Claws” performed by Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara (voice of Sally), and Paul Reubens (yes, Pee Wee). The song is about the three little errand runners for Oogie Boogie (the bad guy) and their plans to capture Santa in order to bring Christmas to Halloweentown. It’s a joyfully mean song and is one of the most fun scenes in the movie.

“Making Christmas” is a song that’s better when accompanied by the visual of the movie scene, but does have one very interesting line. As the citizens of Halloween are creating presents, they sing about wrapping one in “spider legs and pretty bows.” Creepy…

“Oogie Boogie’s Song” is a jazzy song with awesome vocals performed by Ken Page. The introduction of the villain portrays him as a heartless, cruel, torturous creature, with an extremely twisted sense of humor. When the captured Santa asks what he’s going to do, Oogie replies, “I’m gonna do the best I can…”

“Sally’s Song” follows immediately after and features the sweetly haunting vocals of Catherine O’Hara. The provides the song with a mix of femininity and sorrow that stays with you after the track, and even the CD, ends.

Tracks You Can’t Miss:

  • Track 3 – “This Is Halloween” (performed by The Citizens of Halloween)
  • Track 6 – “What’s This” (performed by Danny Elfman)
  • Track 13 – “Oogie Boogie’s Song” (performed by Ken Page)
  • Track 14 – “Sally’s Song” (performed by Catherine O’Hara)

Disc Two is an extra bonus disc created in conjunction with the release of the 3-D IMAX version of the film and features cover tunes and demos of the original tracks. The opening track is a cover of “This Is Halloween” performed by Marilyn Manson. It is one of my favorite covers of all time. His musical style fits so well with the tone of the original song that the cover almost sounds like it should have been the original. If you do nothing else with this soundtrack, at least buy this track on iTunes.

Fiona Apple performs a cover of “Sally’s Song” that I don’t care for. I’m not a fan of hers anyway, but listening to this track creeps me out. She sounds almost drugged, which doesn’t really fit with the vibe of a children’s movie.

Fall Out Boy covers “What’s This” and manages to keep the fun feel of the original while still putting their own unique touch on it.

“Kidnap the Sandy Claws” gets covered by She Wants Revenge. I had never heard the band before, and I never want to hear them again. Their cover is so atrocious I wish I had never heard it.

Panic! at the Disco also covers “This Is Halloween.” It’s not as good a cover as Marilyn Manson’s, but it’s pretty good.

The rest of the tracks are demo versions of songs that are on the original soundtrack, all performed by composer Danny Elfman. One of the more interesting ones is the demo version of “Oogie Boogie’s Song.” It’s extremely different from the final movie version, but you can still hear the intended tone and feeling of the song. Elfman’s performance is wildly different from the final Ken Page version, which is what makes it so fascinating to listen to.

Tracks You Can’t Miss:

  • Track 1 – “This Is Halloween” – Marilyn Manson
  • Track 3 – “What’s This” – Fall Out Boy
  • Track 7 – “Oogie Boogie’s Song” (demo performed by Danny Elfman)

Check back next week for our review of the Saw IV soundtrack, being released on October 23rd.

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