A study in contrasts, the score to The Corpse Bride, Danny Elfman's second 2005 collaboration with Tim Burton, features some of the composer's gentlest, most restrained pieces as well as some of his vividest ones. Tellingly, most of the pieces that soundtrack the land of the living, including the "Main Titles" and "Victor's Piano Solo," are gray-on-gray pieces inspired by chamber music. Meanwhile, the music of the dead spans the macabre but still vibrant "Remains of the Day" -- which explains how the Corpse Bride came to pass, and makes a refrain like "die, die, we all pass away" sound downright cheerful -- as well as the swooning, spooky romance of "Moon Dance." Indeed, aside from a few slightly scary tracks, The Corpse Bride's music is largely (if darkly) romantic: "Piano Duet" and "Finale" both have an otherworldly sweetness shared by the ruefully witty "Tears to Shed," in which the Corpse Bride's friends (including the maggot that lives in one of her eye sockets) try to convince her that lacking a pulse isn't so important when it comes to true love. The soundtrack's other songs are just as pithy. "According to Plan" neatly outlines the living couple's families and their reasons for marrying -- Victor VanDorts' parents are grasping nouveau riche, while Victoria Everglot's are aristocratic but penniless -- and offers some clever commentary on arranged marriages to boot. "The Wedding Song," meanwhile, recalls the madcap whimsy of The Nightmare Before Christmas, although for two films with similar looks, themes, and creative teams, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride's scores are remarkably, and admirably different. The soundtrack also includes a suite of bonus tracks by Bonejangles (who is voiced by Elfman) and his Bone Boys, a group of underworld hepcats inspired by Cab Calloway, Django Reinhardt, and hot jazz and swing in general. The "Minnie the Moocher"-esque "Remains of the Day (Combo Lounge Version)" and "Ball & Socket Lounge Music #2," for example, would make a great soundtrack for hipper Halloween and Day of the Dead-themed dinner parties. Equally playful and sophisticated, The Corpse Bride is a delightful score that delivers on all of the expectations of an Elfman/Burton teaming.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
|Corpse Bride, film score|