Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Nightmare Revisited

A couple of years ago, Disney released a new soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in the 2006 Nightmare Before Christmas re-release. At the time, I felt the key selling point to that cd was the five songs that Marilyn Manson, Fall Out Boy, Fiona Apple, She Wants Revenge and Panic! At The Disco covered. Of those, the She Wants Revenge track was almost unlistenable and the Panic! At The Disco track as merely ok. What I really wished they had done was a whole album of remakes. The five songs was pretty cool and the Danny Elfman demo tracks were nice but really, only a die hard fan was going to find those interesting.

Which brings us to the just released Nightmare Revisited. Billed as "performances inspired by Danny Elfman's music from The Nightmare Before Christmas", the disc consists of 20 total tracks, two of which are the original opening and closing monologues to the film as done by Elfman and one duplicate song from the 2006 release, (Manson's This Is Halloween). For those of you with bad math skill's, that amounts to 17 new tracks.
I'll cut right to the chase. If you are a Nightmare fan, this collection is awesome and I highly recommend it. Even if you aren't a Nightmare fan, I still recommend it.Some really good music is here and a few real gems!

The Good: Marilyn Manson doing This Is Halloween, Korn's version of Kidnap The Sandy Claws and Shiny Toy Guns doing the Finale/Reprise are a few of my favorites. Like a good remake should, these and most of the new versions on this album retain the feeling of the original but add a little something new to the mix as well. Many times a remake will either push to far, sounding so different from the source material that it becomes un-listenable. Either that or it stays so close to the original that you think, "Why did you even bother. I'll just listen to the original."

Much like the 2006 release, Sally's Song is the standout on this disc. Amy Lee, of the band Evanescence, pours so much emotion into the song that it's almost heartbreaking. The music arrangement is outstanding, again, adding so much to the song without making it unrecognizable.

Danny Elfman reciting the original Closing monologue gives us a glimpse into what the future might have held for Jack and Sally along with a friendship between Jack and Santa.

Finally, the packaging. It's simple but very well done. The case features pictures of Jack, Sally, Zero and Lock, Shock and Barrel. The artwork isn't credited but I believe they are all production sketches by Tim Burton. If they aren't, they are at least done in the Tim Burton style.

The Bad: While I enjoyed the disc overall, there are a few tunes that took a while before I could appreciate them. Among those were the Overture by DeVotchKa, (something about polka and Nightmare Before Christmas doesn't seem to want to fit in my brain and yet upon repeated listens, it totally works for me now.) and Jack's Obsession done by Sparkelhorse, (It's a bit too whiny).

I really love the Marilyn Manson This is Halloween but I also really hate that this was a re-release from the 2006 album. I wish they would have given somebody else a crack at the song. Thankfully, this is the only song repeated from 2006 and you won't have to endure repeated listenings of She Wants Revenge doing a horrible version of Kidnap The Sandy Claws.

If you are an iTunes person, there is a bonus song by Tiger Army when you download the album. They do Oogie Boogie's Song. How is it? I wish I could tell you. I didn't find out about the bonus song till after I bought the cd. Grrrrr!
(Update. You can now download the song on it's own but it still peeves me that even if I downloaded the song I will always feel like my cd is incomplete. Damn my collectors sensibilities! DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!)

The song that upsets me most is Flyleaf doing What's This?. It isn't that they do a horrible version of the song. It's actually ok. My problem is the tone of the song. What should be the most joyous song on the album is reduced to a somewhat mournful sounding song. I appreciate the artistic choice the band made in trying to do something different but I just don't think it works. Part of the problem is the original is SO perfect in it's enthusiasm that any deviation from that energy it is going to come up lacking. Fall Out Boy did the 2006 version of the song and while I don't think that version is spectacular, it at least tried to capture the wonder and awe of discovering Christmas for the first time. Lacey Mosley, Flyleaf's lead singer, almost sounds bored in Flyleaf's rendition. "What's this? Oh. Christmas. *yawn*"

The Ugly: Rjd2's Christmas Eve Montage and Datarock doing To The Rescue. Remember Meco's Star Wars from the 70's? That's what these electronica version's remind me of.
(Don't even try and convince me that Meco Star Wars was good in a kitchy kind of way. It's a perfect example of why disco has a bad name)

The Bottom Line: It's good stuff. I recommend buying it from Amazon or downloading from iTunes.

3 comments that I will completely misinturpret:

The Real Krista said...

Informative post! You will be pissed, however, to know that I clicked your link for this "Meco's Star Wars" (which I had never heard of being NOT a Star Wars fan in any way) and I loved it! That is some good stuff my friend!!!! It almost made me like Star Wars for a second...

Jer said...

I actually enjoyed the Devotchka, but I immediately connected it to a Tchaikovsky Nutcracker type sound, so that made it doubly Christmasy for me... With a dash of Oom-Pah...

And we own the Meco Star Wars CD, so I will be sure that she hears it. Multiple times when she's trapped in the car and can't escape...

Anonymous said...

Keep on working, great job!
My blog post ... london errol denton