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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Jukebox - Weird Science by Oingo Boingo

I'd just like to state for the record that for today's entry there will be a little dash from the Monday matinee spice rack to pep up today's Sunday Jukebox entry.

Oh, sure, I'll be talking a little bit about the movie 'Weird Science', but this blog entry is going to focus more on the actual song that appears on the film's soundtrack.

As I was unable to find an actual release date for the song, I'm going to come up with the decision to make the song release date the same as the one for the movie.

So, I don't think I'll waste any more time. Let's get right to the video so we can chat about it.

ARTIST: Oingo Boingo
SONG: Weird Science
ALBUM: Weird Science Official Soundtrack
RELEASE DATE: August 2, 1985

Weird Science was a movie in which two teenage boys named Wyatt and Gary decide to create their idea of what they considered to be the perfect woman. Through Wyatt's personal computer (and yes, personal computers did exist back in 1985), they input all sorts of photos and data and images and store them onto the hard drive. When the hard drive reaches its limit in memory storage, the boys hack into a government mainframe in an effort to increase the storage capacity of Wyatt's computer and provide more processing power to the machine.

Something goes wrong during the hacking attempt, however. When the boys connect a Barbie doll to Wyatt's computer through a series of wires, and hit the Enter key to start their computer program, a giant bolt of lightning strikes the house, and all hell breaks loose. After an explosion, Wyatt and Gary are stunned to see that a beautiful woman emerges from the bathroom after the smoke clears.

The boys name the woman Lisa, and the rest of the film deals with Lisa trying to help Wyatt and Gary with the trials and the problems that most high school kids face. She is well-intentioned when it comes to doing whatever she can to help the boys become popular and for them to find girlfriends, but as most people know, good intentions don't always lead to positive outcomes.

And, that's all that I really want to talk about in terms of the film, but if you ever wanted to see it, it's worth watching at least once. I liked it anyway.

Now let's talk about the band that brought 'Weird Science' a theme song...and how the track wasn't really one of the band's favourites.

The reason why? It was least according to some sources, anyway.

It was widely believed that when the song was recorded in the summer of 1985, Oingo Boingo had reportedly recorded a few versions of 'Weird Science'. The record company and movie producers were pushing for the final version of the track so that they could include it in the movie in time for an August release, but the band wasn't ready to submit a final recording until they could decide as a band what version they were going to use.

The story goes that one night, the band worked very hard on 'Weird Science', and they had the idea that they were almost there with how the band wanted the song to sound, but they still needed to do some tweaking. But when the record company executives found what they believed to be the finished recording of the song. Therefore, when the song was released on radio stations and music channels for airplay, it is widely believed that the version people heard was one that was unfinished by the band.

Now, don't take my word for it. This is merely just a theory that people have come up with, and I'm just putting it out there. But considering that for years after the song was released, Oingo Boingo rarely played the song at concert performances, it sort of makes sense as to why the band doesn't consider 'Weird Science' to have been their best effort.

But it did make the Billboard charts, peaking at #45 in October 1985, so I suppose it did make some impact.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and state that Oingo Boingo was a really underrated band...especially since its lead singer eventually grew to have a really rewarding and fascinating career as a music composer for film and television.

When the band Oingo Boingo formed in 1976, a man by the name of Danny Elfman was the lead singer of the group. Some of you may have heard of the name Danny Elfman, but maybe aren't sure of where. But, I'm sure most of you have heard of The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, and the 1989 film, Batman. Well, Danny Elfman composed all the theme songs for the three examples I've posted here. He won a Grammy Award for his Batman composition, and Emmy Award for his work on the Desperate Housewives theme, and has been nominated for four Academy Awards.

Not bad, eh?

He also has done some voice work over the years, and if any of you have seen the film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, he provides the singing voice of Jack Skellington. He also performed the singing voice for Bonejangles in the movie Corpse Bride.

Prior to all of this success, he was the frontman for the band, Oingo Boingo. And, how did the band get the name? You can thank his brother Richard for that.

In the early 1970s, Richard Elfman had developed a love of performing, and by 1972, he had formed a musical theater troupe which called themselves 'The Mystical Knights Of The Oingo Boingo', inspired by a fictional secret society on the Amos 'n' Andy television series called 'The Mystic Knights of the Sea'.

By the mid-1970s however, Richard Elfman's interests changed from performing to filmmaking, and as a result of this, passed the leadership of the group onto Danny. At the time, Danny had just returned from a stay in Africa, where he learned how to play the violin and a variety of percussion instruments. The group began to gain a following in Los Angeles, and in 1976, appeared on 'The Gong Show'. Don't believe me? Have a look for yourselves!

And they never got gonged!

By 1979, the group had shortened their name down to just Oingo Boingo, and had started to release albums. Their first album was released on June 19, 1981, and while the band didn't have huge success on the charts, they did happen to have quite a few songs appearing on some of the most popular movie soundtracks of the 1980s, including Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Sixteen Candles, and Back To School.

And, of course, there was 'Weird Science'.

After the 1980s however, the band didn't have as many releases, and after a lot of changes with the band lineup, the band officially called it quits in 1995, following one final performance at the Universal Ampitheatre on Halloween, 1995. While some of the former band members of the group have reunited for Oingo Boingo tribute shows and have gone on to composition gigs of their own, Danny Elfman rejected the idea of the band officially getting back together. It wasn't because he had lost interest in playing music though. In an interview that Elfman had done back in 2007, he stated that playing in the band had caused him some irreversible hearing loss, and didn't want it to worsen by playing at live concerts once again.

But although Oingo Boingo was a part of Danny Elfman's past, it certainly helped shape his bright future.

Really, the list of things that Danny Elfman has done in his career have been outstanding. He has collaborated with director Tim Burton on all but two of his film projects, and actually got his first composing job because of Burton. When Burton and Paul Reubens contacted Elfman about doing the score for their first feature film (Pee-wee's Big Adventure), Elfman actually had doubts about his ability to take on such a project because of his lack of formal training.

Insert life lesson. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!!

Eventually, Danny Elfman did just that, with the help of one of his Oingo Boingo bandmates. Guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek provided Elfman with the necessary orchestration assistance needed to complete the score. When he first heard his work in the finished project played by a full orchestra, he deemed it as the most thrilling moment of his life, and that project kicked off the love of composing that Danny Elfman became famous for.

And to think that his tenure with Oingo Boingo paved the way for this brilliant composer to come out of his shell and earn such a great reputation for his hard work. Kind of makes you have hope that your dreams can eventually come true, doesn't it?

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