'Corpse Bride' soundtrack somber yet hopeful

By Miriam Weisberg
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rating: 7/10

Danny Elfman teams up with director Tim Burton again to create a grim and enchanting movie soundtrack to accompany the spooky and bittersweet movie "Corpse Bride."

Elfman has done music for many of Burton's movies, including "Batman Returns," "Edward Scissorhands" and "A Nightmare Before Christmas."

Because "Corpse Bride" is following the success of Burton's "A Nightmare Before Christmas," it is almost impossible to not compare the two. Although "Corpse Bride" delivers a boldly somber soundtrack, which is entirely appropriate for an eerie love story about a dead bride, the music and songs lack the amount of energy (considering all the characters are dead) and creativity that "A Nightmare Before Christmas" gives.

It seems as though Corpse Bride is trying to express someone's bitter opinion of marriage, which definitely makes the lyrics in the song "According to Plan" morbidly humorous. This movie is possibly a social commentary on arranged marriages. For example, lyrics like "Do you suppose your father and I like each other?! Of course not!" can be found in the song "According to Plan." The marriage dilemma is such a dreary one.

Corpse Bride
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Songs and Music by Danny Elfman

Elfman's overwhelming symphonic and macabre sound takes a stab at jazz and swing in the bonus tracks from "Corpse Bride" characters Bonejangles and his Bone Boys and the most memorable song "Remains of the Day." "Remains" makes being dead seem like fun with its bone percussions, swinging horns and humorous lyrical narration of the Corpse Bride's tragic story.

The other feature song is "Tears to Shed." Humorously played, the Corpse Bride is assured that she is the better pick of the two women in competition for one man because she has a "wonderful personality." This melancholy ditty shows Elfman's ability to so preciously show the workings of the human (or ghost/zombie) heart through song.

The entire score is a fanciful array of soft melodies with spooky undertones. The soundtrack is clearly Elfman, because no other composer can make the musical soundtrack of the dead and morbid sound so horrid and yet so hopeful.

Even though the soundtrack is an enjoyable listen, it gets repetitive the entire way through. Elfman does not stray too much from his established style, which gives this soundtrack a solid presence, but the lack of creative surprise is a bit disappointing.