Study Guide

Beetlejuice Music (Score)

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Music (Score)

Danny Elfman

You can't have a movie without music.

Okay, you can, but it would be really, really awkward. And quiet.

The film score for Beetlejuice was composed by Danny Elfman. Elfman had previously worked with Tim Burton on Pee-wee's Big Adventure and the director tapped him to compose for Beetlejuice as well. Before working on Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Danny Elfman had never scored a feature film.

He was, however, the lead singer of the band Oingo Boingo, a new wave band that was kind of popular in Los Angeles. In 1976, they went on The Gong Show. Then in 1985 they had a hit with the song "Weird Science" (which was featured in the movie of the same name). They also showed up in the background on the 1986 movie Back to School.

Not exactly the Rolling Stones.

But Tim Burton had faith in Danny Elfman and it paid off. Elfman's zany and haunting score for Beetlejuice gave the film some of its best moments. With different themes for the Maitlands, Lydia, and Betelgeuse, the music helped heighten the mood of whatever was happening on screen.

Elfman would go on to score almost all of Tim Burton's future movies (except Ed Wood, Sweeney Todd, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children). He also composed the theme for The Simpsons and the Spider-Man movies, so we'd say his career in film composition has been pretty epic.

That Scene

We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention the other big musical heavy-hitter in this film: Harry Belafonte.

Since Adam and Barbara are obviously Belafonte fans, the movie features four of his original 1950s recordings at various points in the film. "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)" get a starring role, but you also hear snippets from "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" and "Sweetheart from Venezuela."

Let's just say, no one's complaining. We love us some Harry B.

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