What’s This? ‘Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Soundtrack

sandyclaws-27135On this night before Christmas, I turn attention to one of my favorite albums of seasonal music: the soundtrack from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.,

Yes, you read that correctly. Featuring a bounty of great songs written by Danny Elfman, the onetime frontman of Oingo Boingo, this album is an unexpected holiday gem. Each and every one of the songs was written in a minor key, but they still manage to run a gamut of emotions, from joy to longing, sinister to funtastic.

The 1993 stop-motion animated film was directed by Henry Selick and produced by Burton, who conceived the story in 1982 while working at the studios of Walt Disney Feature Animation. It tells the story of Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon and sung by Elfman), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town — the source of the Oct. 31 holiday. One day Jack wanders into Christmas Town and becomes so fascinated by the candy-colored holiday that he decides to usurp Dec. 25 from Santa Claus.

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Travel Back in Time With the DOCTOR WHO Theme — on Floppy Discs!

Here’s something you don’t hear every day — at least not in recent years: music played from floppy discs. In this case, it’s the DOCTOR WHO theme as performed by eight vintage floppy disc drives, courtesy of fan MrSolidSnake745.

What a remarkable callback to the old days of the classic series! It sounds to me like it’s the Sylvester McCoy Seventh Doctor version of the theme — judging by the inclusion of the not-often-used “middle eight” bridge — which was arranged by Keff McCulloch and used for seasons 24-26 (1987-’89).

Remembering the ‘Excitable Boy,’ Warren Zevon

Yesterday would have been the 67th birthday of  singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, one of my favorite musicians. He passed away on Sept. 7, 2003, at the age of 56, a victim of cancer of the abdominal lining. You hear it said a lot that certain people “died too young”; well, Zevon was one of those people.

In this terrific clip from Sept. 8, 2003, David Letterman and Paul Schaefer announced the passing of their good friend Zevon, who had appeared on Letterman’s various shows for over 20 years. This clip includes Zevon performing an absolutely heartbreaking rendition of “The Mutineer” on the Oct. 30, 2002, LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, which was devoted entirely to Zevon.

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Composer of ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ Score Dead at 81

Wojciech+KilarWojciech Kilar, who composed my favorite film score ever, for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, died in his hometown of Katowice, Poland, on Sunday at the age of 81 after a long illness.

Kilar’s haunting, otherworldly score for Francis Ford Coppola’s film was a major contributor to the menacing atmosphere of the 1992 version of the Dracula story, which starred Gary OldmanWinona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins.

The music was at once heavy, dramatic and unsettling but also at points light and romantic, befitting the mood shifts in the flawed but wonderful film. Compare the prickly, skin-crawling horror of the atonal passages that morphed into boisterous timpani pounding and trumpets during the attack of Dracula’s brides to the music box-like simplicity and innocence of Lucy’s theme. And then there was the peerless main theme that swells with the power of love, hatred and revenge!
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When Will We Know There’s a New Doctor?

promsDespite the hopes of some, there was no announcement of a new Doctor this past Saturday at the Doctor Who Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London, but there was some pretty good music.

So, what does show-runner Steven Moffat say about when the 12th Doctor will be announced? This:

“Unless we have an insane plan, we’ll announce a new Doctor within days of finalizing the new Doctor. Because it’s very, very hard to keep any kind of a secret. The last time, when we chose Matt, we had to hold over on that one, because there was a Christmas Doctor Who special called ‘The Next Doctor,’ for which Russell T Davies was playing the game of pretending it was going to be David Morrissey. So we couldn’t deflate that…but I think we’ll go public pretty fast.”

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Through the Years: All* of the DOCTOR WHO Themes

There is absolutely no doubt that Ron Grainer’s theme for DOCTOR WHO has stood the test of time. Composed by Grainer and arranged and recorded by Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, it was the very first electronic theme song for television, way back in 1963.

And all of the iterations since have merely rearranged some notes or — in more recent years — recorded the tune using real instruments instead of cut-together snippets of sounds. John Debney’s orchestral theme from the 1996 TV Movie is surprisingly good, and lends the program the epic feel of a movie event.

My favorite? It’s a toss-up between Grainer’s 1963 original (which is so darn mysterious with all that hissing) and Murray Gold’s latest, the 2010 version.

Have a listen for yourself in this wonderful clip:

*barring the occasional minor tweaks and rearrangements that didn’t count as real overhauls of the theme, and those not intended for broadcast with the main series (i.e Big Finish audio plays, Doctor Who proms, soundtracks, compilation clip shows, Dimensions in Time, etc.).

Cee Lo Still Doesn’t Get It

Why did Cee Lo Green think it was necessary to spit in John Lennon’s face and then rub salt in the wounds of his fans?

For a guy who’s supposed to be some kind of modern musical guru, Cee Lo just doesn’t get it, does he? It was bad enough that he decided to change the lyrics of Lennon’s classic song “Imagine,” but then he had to try to make people believe it was an innocent attempt to amplify Lennon’s song? This guy thinks he’s qualified to rewrite Lennon?

In case you missed the firestorm, Cee Lo was performing on NBC’s New Year’s Eve program from Times Square where, he debuted his rewritten version of the song “Imagine.” Instead of crooning “Nothing to kill or die for/ and no religion too,” he altered the line to “Nothing to kill or die for/ and all religion’s true.”
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Port Chuck in Concert

I joined a couple of colleagues from Soap Opera Weekly to check out the first show of Port Chuck’s 2011 tour, at Studio Square NYC in Long Island City, N.Y., on April 15.

For those of you who don’t know, the band Port Chuck is made up of actors from GENERAL HOSPITAL, including Brandon Barash (Johnny), Steve Burton (Jason), Scott Reeves (Steve) and Bradford Anderson (Spinelli). All the guys sing, and they have backing musicians to fill out the band. Scott plays guitar – and Steve can clang a pretty mean cowbell when he wants to! (Yes, we shouted, “More cowbell!”) Check out my photo gallery after the cut.
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