Danny Elfman has produced some of the eeriest and spookiest music for many Tim Burton movies. Thus includes writing music for Beetlejuice, Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Nightmare Before Christmas etc. As goofy as he is Elfman has played a huge roll in writing many movie soundtracks and while his music isnít known for being complex and difficult it is without a doubt fun and creepy. If you are yet to be convinced that Elfman is ďthe manĒ when it comes to movie soundtracks and sitcoms let me just tell you that he also wrote the theme song for The Simpons and the opening theme for the ever so naughty show Desperate Housewives.
If you take Elfman and put him together with a seven piece new-wave/pop outfit then you basically have Oingo Boingo. The music is comprised of groovy guitar hooks, funky bass slapping, and a whole brigade of jazzy trumpets and saxophones. There is really no astounding instrument playing, the guitar riffs and scales are catchy, the bass playing has a nice groove to it and is mildy funky while the jazzy trumpets weave their way in and out of the dance/new-wave style. Elfman adds onto this with his upbeat and joyful yelps and wails. You wonít have much trouble deciphering the lyrics, his voice is easy to understand but his strange and creepy tone gives the music a darker edge. If you guys are into new-wave comparison an easier description would be that Oingo Boingo are a jazzier and darker version of Devo.
The music is actually quite simple and most of these songs are structured exactly alike. They start off with a catchy arrangement of guitar jingles and head nodding basslines. Then a boisterous chorus comes in dominated by Elfmans loud and thunderous voice along with some vibrant keyboard dynamics. Later on in the song there will be some soloing and it is usually delivered by a sugary guitar line or some jazzy saxophones giving the music an even more fun and joyful experience. While the vibe of the music is a little bit cheesy and overbearing at points Oingo Boingo sure know how to create some catchy, infectious new-wave pop songs with a slightly spookish edge.
The albums opener, Just Another Day
is the most frantic and misleading song off the album. The strangest part about the song is that it is powered by a zany xylophone scale along with a few other guitar riffs. Elfman delivers a spastic chorus consisting of him frantically yelling ďItís just another dayĒ over some glam-rock sounding guitars. Thereís a pretty mellow sounding breakdown part later on in the song but overall itís a quirky, frantic new-wave pop song with an extremely catchy xylophone line. The only other adrenaline pumping song would be No One Lives Forever
and it is the darkest and eeriest song off of the album. The main focus is on Elfmans quivering voice as he chants various things about death and destruction. Thereís a nice little trumpet riff between versus and the haunting chorus makes this song a definite highlight.
There are many horn punched songs and this is were the album excels. Heard Somebody Cry
is a more slow paced and groovy glimmer/funk anthem. The simple guitar rhythm is nice and catchy providing a nice sing-a-long type of tune. A quirky sounding jazz saxophone comes in and plays towards the end of the song, it definitely brings a more joyful nature to a basic rock song. Foolís Paradise
is basically a sped up version of Heard Somebody Cry
. Jittery guitars play throughout the song along with a subtle yet funky bassline. Elfman decides to end the song with a flashy arrangement of trumpets and while this formula was already used before it still provides a nice, vivacious sound. The albums highlight would have to be Help Me
. At first it sounds like the most basic and formulaic track but in the middle of the song an extremely zestful and wild saxophone solo completely takes control. The album closes with the sexy, funk influenced Weird Science
. Everything comes together here, an extremely salacious bassline plays and trumpets manage to flawlessly weave there way in and out of the music. Oingo Boingo deliver weather you want to get out on the dance floor, or if you just want some flashy new-wave music.
The big downside to the album is that the drumming is some of the dullest and shallowest around. It basically sounds the same on every song with an extremely unnoticeable and easy job. Donít get me wrong, it keeps a nice beat but itís practically the same beat or melody every single time.
In short Oingo Boingo are a new-wave/post-punk group with flashy sounding guitars and glistening keyboard effects. Another interesting aspect about the band is that they incorporate minor jazz and funk elements into their music along with snazzy brass instruments and groovy basslines. Danny Elfman does an excellent job at lead vocals, his powerful, eerie, and spastic voice takes control of the music and while it can sound almost to loud and crazy at first it adds an upbeat atmosphere to the music. While Oingo Boingo didnít create anything amazing with Dead Mans Party
they produced some fun, slick pop songs and added a more sinister edge to new-wave music.