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Nightmare Revisited

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★★★★☆
(46 Reviews)

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  • OK, I am finally going to review something that I am crazy about, to the point of obsessed, maybe even OCD. I am a huge Danny Elfman fan from the Oingo Boingo days. Recently he has really become the next John Williams with regards to movie soundtracks. While that may be arguable to some, I really don’t have time to get into the finer points other than to say that like Williams, Elfman’s work compliments the movies and even improves it by completing the stories. Anyway, with that said, I first saw the Nightmare Before Christmas when it first came out and I bought the soundtrack the same day back in 1993. I finally got my hands on this take of the original music and felt compelled to opine.

    First, I was a little put off by the seemingly overbearing “goth” and “emo” feel, but upon further review (about 50 times), this is a much broader take than at first glance. Where some of the reviews here are musical midgets that can’t see beyond their own like or dislike of a genre of music, my judgment on this is a combination of the artistic interpretation and how it tells the story. I think it is unfair to say Marilyn Manson and run for the hills or synthe/techno what the ?!?! and give it poor remarks solely from a myopic point of view. While all view points are valid to one’s self my point in giving a review is to allow others to see my take and make a decision to buy or not to buy based on my experience. Now to the music:

    Overture – If you don’t understand how Polka has influenced Danny Elfman then this won’t make much sense to you (OK polka would have influenced Weird Al more than Elfman but it was fun to write.) For the creative license I give it a 5/5.0. It seemed pretty natural and not a forced interpretation. It is by no means a stretch; and the feel, flavor and mood of the original was not lost. – Score 5/5

    Opening – Can you get a better voice then Elfman for the opening? No you cannot!!! – Score 5.0

    This is Halloween – Here is my first issue with this compilation. At first this seems to be a fit, but I refused to let “goth” hijack my precious Nightmare just because it creates some buzz. This rendition offers nothing original. It is plainly replayed and poorly sung. There is no musicianship. It is cheap and makes Marilyn Manson look better than he is soley by playing all the notes that already exist; he offered nothing original to it. It is neither darker than the original nor lighter. It just exists for a self serving homage to the singer rather than a tribute to Elfman’s work. I wish we could get Ozzy Osbourne. He would give it its due. – Score 0/5

    Jack’s Lament – I am going to have to reject the All-American Rejects. Here we really have a communication problem. Instead of projecting frustration with Jack’s lack of challenge, we get apathy. Instead of hearing pride in ones work…well you get the point. The stepwise bass you here at the beginning is a tribute to Dante’s Lament and I’m not talking about the movie Clerks. I wish this would have been done by someone who has some training. The artistic license is just a half a notch above Manson. They took a chance in changing what was communicated, but I don’t think it works. Yes, Jack was bored, but he didn’t drift into a melancholy, marijuana-induced, apathetic view on existence. He was restless and acted. Something entirely missed in this inconsiderate depiction. – Score 2/5

    Doctor Finklestein/In the Forest – At last some thoughtful contribution. It is somewhat minimalist, which allows the focus on what is being communicated. It went darker than the original and now when I see or imagine Jack’s stroll into the woods, the woods are a bit eerier, even foreboding. I love the feel. – Score 5/5

    What’s This? – The creative license here is of note. Its like playing baseball and scoring a touchdown. Sally’s song could be emo but this??? When Jack finds something “he never knew he never knew” to quote Pocahontas or Rumsfield if you’re just a bit astute, he goes ballisticly unemotionally detached. NO!!! He is exited, renewed and even quickened! It is beautifully sung though, but communicates something entirely out of sync. – Score 3.5/5

    Town Meeting Song – Ok, we stretch a 3 minute lyrical masterpiece into 9 minutes. This had better be good, and at first I was disappointed. However, upon further review, it is a musical “redo” ingeniously prolonged. Here, it is the story/not the music that really stands out. It is funny. My favorite line is “OOOHH YES, Does it still have a FOOT?” You couldn’t get that kind of excitement in the original without destroying the rhythmic interplay of that sequence, but I would love to hear that kind of excitement in the movie. It would have been funnier. Some will of course not like this selection. It is musical and there are some great rock elements here, but it is the story that takes precedent over the music and it is well done. – Score 5/5

    Jack and Sally Montage – This is greatness and a magnificent tribute to the music. This is the best instrumental here. There is some experimentation and it works. This made me want to dig into the Vitamin String Quartet. – Score 5/5

    Jack’s Obsession – Again extremely miscommunicated, like the media’s interpretation of Palin’s death panels. But, I do have to give kudos for the musical transformation. It doesn’t sound anything like the original, and it doesn’t communicate obsession at all. It is very lackadaisical, extremely mismatched, and useless in the telling of the story. But for some odd reason – Score 3.5/5

    Kidnap the Sandy Claws – There is some risk here, it is not a reproduction like This is Halloween but it doesn’t push Korn’s musicianship. It really isn’t sharp playing just ok. It is playful, fun, but maybe too abrupt. It has grown on me but not my favorite. – Score 4/5.

    Making Christmas – This is fine playing and a great interpretation. It communicates the excitement and energy required. Nice to hear some added metal tributes also. The drum line and guitar work is excellent. Of all the vocals this one is the best and knocks it out of the ballpark. I’m not even a metal fan but can hear the artistry. Thanks Rise Against – 5/5

    Nabbed – Another thoughtful, instrumental piece. I loved hearing an oriental flair; and the tributes to the oriental sound without losing the integrity of the work are pleasing. – Score 4.5/5

    Oogie Boogie’s Song – I don’t know if I’m disappointed or pleasantly surprised here. At first, I really wanted this to be vocal and have someone go to town on it. You know that when Elfman goes blues bar he is really having fun. I wanted to see someone play tribute to that kind of fun, but I didn’t get it. Instead I got Spanish guitar and good Spanish guitar at that. Score – 5/5

    Sally’s Song – Beautiful piece, but not shiny – Score 4.5/5

    Christmas Eve Montage – This is a fun piece and brings a little of the electra/techno into this mix. I think Depeche Mode would have worked too but you can’t have everything. All in all, I’m glad it was included. – Score 4/5

    Poor Jack – This is done well. Not a lot of risk taken but some fun elements. – Score 4/5

    To the Rescue – More electra/techno but not unpleasant. It is fun and even nostalgic. I could totally see this in an Austin Powers rescue scene. – Score 4/5

    Finale/Reprise – OK, a little harder than I expected but it works on some strange level. This is risk taking that compliments the music/story. – Score 4.5/5

    Closing – Again no better voice than Elfman’s – 5/5

    End Title – I really enjoyed this – mesmerizing, pensive, and lyrical. Very well layered, and I feel this is a bit Tangerine Dream like. It is one of the best instrumentals here. – Score 5/5

    There are more hits than misses for the eclectic minded. This album has a wide range of styles that the more myopic collector will dismiss. It is excellently put together as a whole and no one style outdoes any of the others. Although the instrumentals do tend to outdo the vocal pieces but that is to be expected. It is easier to rearrange instrumentals than to change the vocal style and not lose the story and maybe that is where the trouble lies for some selections. Either they didn’t change anything substantial or they went too far and ruined the story. Simply put the vocals are constricted in the artistic license to keep with the integrity of the story telling. With that, I would have to give the winning effort to Raise Against for Making Christmas. It is well worth the misses. All in all – this compilation is better and broader than I had originally thought.

    M. Kent Leckie

    Posted on March 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I was more disappointed in this newer soundtrack than the previous one which had 2 discs(the new songs on the 2nd disc). Many of the bands failed to capture the feeling of the original songs, and ended up ruining these classics.

    DeVotchKa – Overture: I’m not even sure what they tried to do with this one..Sounds more like this was being played at a Mexican party.

    Danny Elfman – Opening: This is more true to the classic opening, even though it’s not the same narrator as the movie, and he says more than the original narrator.

    Marilyn Manson – This Is Halloween: Manson actually did a pretty good job in his version of this piece.

    The All-American Rejects – Jack’s Lament: I like this band, but they did a terrible job on this song

    Amiina – Doctor Finkelstein/In the Forest: This piece is just odd..It’s not that bad, though. It’s somewhat eerie. Reminds me of Edward Scissorhands a bit.

    Flyleaf – What’s This?: They slaughtered this song. It has no feeling similar to the original.

    The Polyphonic Spree – Town Meeting Song: Reminds me of Rob Dougan when the man sings(he doesn’t really fit the feeling of the song), but it is interesting when the girls sing.

    The Vitamin String Quartet – Jack and Sally Montage: This was actually a nice piece to listen to.

    Sparklehorse – Jack’s Obsession: This one shouldn’t be in the soundtrack at all..There’s almost no talent or any real feeling in it at all.

    Korn – Kidnap the Sandy Claws: This was an interesting piece to listen to, not too bad

    Rise Against – Making Christmas: This song was pretty cool – it has a nice beat and most of the vocals are nice.

    Yoshida Brothers – Nabbed: I’m not sure why this is in the soundtrack. It doesn’t sound like anything that I’ve heard from the movie before.

    Rodrigo y Gabriela – Oogie Boogie’s Song: Another Mexican-style piece.

    Amy Lee – Sally’s Song: Lee’s good at singing anything that has a sad/slow rhythm. It’s a good piece for the soundtrack, enjoyable to listen to.

    Montage Rjd2 – Christmas Eve: Another strange piece..Reminds me of Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

    Plain White T’s – Poor Jack: Not too bad. At certain parts this one is really good.

    Datarock – To the Rescue: Another strange piece..Some parts are almost like 70’s music.

    Shiny Toy Guns – Finale/Reprise: Very creepy at the beginning, but pretty cool overall.

    Danny Elfman – Closing: Not part of the movie, but interesting to listen to.

    The Album Leaf – End Title: True to the original, enjoyable to listen to.

    Posted on March 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’d like to know how this project came together and how the artists were matched with their respective pieces. I picked up this album with mixed feelings and after a couple of listens those feelings remain mixed. I was glad to see that even the score elements of the original soundtrack were represented in this “revisitation”. A good thing too, considering most of the vocal tracks fail to bring anything new to the table. The tracks by Manson, Korn and Rise Against are servicable but uninspired attempts to appeal to the goth kiddies that have helped turn Nightmare into a merchandising empire. The All-American Rejects, Flyleaf, Polyphonic Spree, Sparklehorse and Plain White T’s all make slow, lifeless messes of their tracks (a real surprise from the usually hyper Spree). Yes, there’s a dark element to the work, but it sounds like people needed to worry less about their eyeliner and have more fun – the element that’s really missing from these tracks. Amy Lee is a pretty safe pick for Sally’s Song, but that doesn’t make the results any less gorgeous. And Shiny Toy Guns manage to turn the relatively minor Finale/Reprise into a mini epic with a genuinely creepy beginning, plaintive middle (Petree’s cry of “What is this?” is perfect) and a lush, romantic finish. Rodrigo y Gabriela turn Oogie Boogie’s song into a great, fast-paced guitar piece and that’s this album’s real strength – the instrumentals. Amiina and The Vitamin String Quartet take a more classical approach with great results. The Yoshida Brothers and Rjd2 have a lot of fun with Nabbed and Christmas Eve Montage, bringing a bit of dance and electronica to the mix. Datarock manage to make To The Rescue completely their own while honouring Elfman at the same time. Their take on the musical moment when Jack is revealed on Oogie’s slab is inspired and (here’s that word again) fun. The album comes to a beautiful close with The Album Leaf’s hypnotic exploration of the first part of the closing credits. The risks taken and the fun had by the artists tackling the instrumentals make this album worth picking up if you’re an Elfman or Nightmare fan. However, consider the cheesy cover art as fair warning for most of the remaining tracks.

    Posted on March 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • “The Nightmare Before Christmas” came out when I was ten years old, and both the movie and the soundtrack were pretty much on constant repeat until I was twelve in my house. The music was winsome and creepy at the same time, and never seemed as much a “traditional” Disney musical as a goth-punk rock opera.

    Fifteen years later, the music is still every bit as enchanting to me, and a number of bands that I LOVE seem to feel the same way. DeVotchKa, Shiny Toy Guns, the Polyphonic Spree, Rodrigo y Gabriela and many other talented artists provide energetic updates to the lyrics and score. Standouts are Marilyn Manson’s twisted take on “This Is Halloween” and Flyleaf’s breathy rendition of “What’s This?”. Danny Elfman’s “Closing” is a charming epilogue to the story.

    In a world where Jack and Sally are stamped on tubes of lip gloss, throw pillows, shot glasses, and thongs in Hot Topics and Spencers the world over, it’s easy to feel like “Nightmare” has lost most of its cultural relevance. “Nightmare Revisited” proves that this is not the case, and I can’t wait to see what musical treats we might get in five or ten more years.

    Posted on March 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is a review for those of you that have already seen the movie and are now looking at buying the Nightmare Revisited soundtrack compilation.

    The cd case itself was enough for me to buy this amazing cd. Although it is a cardboard case it is still very nice, It doesn’t look like someone cut it out of a cereal box and slapped pictures on it like some cds do. Ahem. The case has lovely drawn pictures of some of the different characters including Sally on the inside and Jack on the front cover..
    The pictures are surrounded by slightly raised pinkish purple designs, all cutely spooky and definitely done in the flavor of the movie. And to tie it all together it has shiny black webbing in the background. Whoever designed the cover art definitely had a taste for the theme of the compilation.

    The cd itself has a wide variety of sounds. This cd sports an impressive rang of artists, from the ones you’d first think of to do do a cd like this.. to ones you maybe wouldn’t. An example would be Marilyn Manson, who does the same song he had from the original soundtrack Special cd, a very impressive version of ‘This is Halloween’ to Rodrigo y Gabriela’s version of ‘Oogie Boogie’s Song’ with a very enjoyable Latin twist.
    Also featured are the well known artists Korn, All American Rejects, Plain White T’s, Rjd2, and perhaps my favorite, Amy Lee who does a wonderful version of ‘Sally’s Song’. Danny Elfman also does some voice work in the opening and closing.

    Interesting tidbit: There are some very obvious typos in the artists’ names.. GARBRIELA instead of Gabriela?? Poor girl. Don’t know if its like that on every cd but on mine there definitely was!!

    Adding new sounds to a classic soundtrack, this cd is a must have for Nightmare lovers everywhere. All in all this cd is a great buy, definitely worth the money.

    Posted on March 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now