Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo

Song#:  2439
Date:  08/31/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  45
Weeks:  12
Genre:  New Wave, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The roots of this band came via a 1970s performance art group called The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, which was headed up by Richard Elfman. The troupe featured a large cast of musicians playing numerous instruments who performed a cabaret-style show with music from the first half of the 20th century. Around 1976, Richard decided to leave the group and his brother Danny took over. As time wore on, the band was reduced down to an octet and their focus changed from the theatrical to something more rock oriented with an emphasis on ska music. By 1979 they had officially become Oingo Boingo and had recorded a demo EP that got the attention of I.R.S. Records, who issued out an updated version of the EP. The band then moved over to I.R.S.'s parent label A&M and in 1981 issued their first full-length LP Only a Lad. Over the course of three low-charting albums, the band solidified their reputation as a live act and gained fans. They decided to make a move over to MCA, but due to contract issues with A&M, the band's first album for MCA, So-Lo, was credited solely to Danny Elfman. After the label shenanigans got settled, the band were ready to record their next album. But first, the band would be tagged to contribute a song for an upcoming John Hughes teen comedy Weird Science. Elfman would write the tune and the band got it recorded for the film and its associated soundtrack. It would be issued out as a single following the film's release. The song nearly made the Top 40 while getting to #21 at Dance. It would also be included on their next album Dead Man's Party.

ReduxReview:  This was the exact right theme song for the film. Even when just writing a pop-oriented track, Elfman was on the money when it came to composing for movies. The crazy, nerdy spirit of the film was perfectly reflected in Elfman's creation. Even the aural assault from the dense maniacal production was just right. The film and song go hand-in-hand and it is hard to not think of them both when someone talks about either one. It should have done better on the chart, especially since the film did well at the box office.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Weird Science was John Hughes' directorial follow-up to his hit film The Breakfast Club. It starred Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith as nerdy teens who end up creating a dream woman a la Frankenstein via a computer. Hi-jinks ensue. The film received mixed reviews, but was a box office hit. Like Hughes' previous films, music played a big role and the soundtrack was filled with songs from edgy, up-n-coming acts like Wall of Voodoo, Los Lobos, General Public, Killing Joke, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and Oingo Boingo. In 1994, the cult film was turned into a TV series which ran for five seasons.  2) By now most folks know that the band's leader Danny Elfman went on to become a very successful film score composer. His first major score was for Tim Burton's 1985 movie Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Since then, Burton and Elfman have collaborated on fifteen more films. Elfman has written music for many other films and TV shows with one of his best known works being the theme to The Simpsons. His work has earned him four Oscar nominations and he has won two Emmys and one Grammy.


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