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revised by Martin Marks

[Daniel Robert]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 29 May 1953). Composer, rock singer, arranger, and guitarist. With his brother Richard he formed the theater company the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo in the 1970s, which in 1979 became Oingo Boingo, an eight-piece, new wave band led by Elfman as vocalist and songwriter. During the 1980s the band developed a distinctive synthesizer and horn-based sound; occasionally its songs were featured in youth-market films, such as for the title song of Weird Science (1985), but its ten or so albums had limited commercial success and it formally broke up in 1995.

Beginning in 1985 Elfman also began scoring films, becoming especially well known for his association with the director Tim Burton; after Batman (1989), he became one of Hollywood's most sought-after younger composers. He has worked on nearly all of Burton's films, creating colorful, rhythmically driving and knowingly referential scores, well matched to Burton's surreal style. Elfman has also written the theme music for many television shows, notably “The Simpsons”. Objecting to the overbearing use of sound effects in such action-driven films as ...

Article

Leonidas Economou

(b Trikala, Greece, April 7, 1922; d Athens, Greece, April 8, 1990). Greek composer and lyricist. He was of middle-class origin and finished high school in 1941. He became fascinated with rebetiko and the music of the refugees from Asia Minor, and he was also influenced by religious Byzantine and folk music. From 1941 until 1947 he worked as a bouzouki player in taverns and nightclubs in Trikala and especially Thessaloniki. He was lauded for his first recorded compositions, made in 1947 and including the emblematic laïko song Nychtose choris fengari (‘The Night Fell with No Moon’), which were invested with various social and political meanings as a result of the civil war. In the following years he cooperated with several important laïko creators, and had dozens of hits in the late rebetiko style with singers like Haskil, Tsaousakis, and Bellou, and in grieving or Indian style with singers like Kazantzidis, Gavalas, Angelopoulos, Menidiatis, and Lydia. From ...

Article

Jon Pareles and Jennifer Matthews

[Randall Stuart]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 28 Nov 1943). Popular singer, songwriter, and pianist. He was born into a musical family: three of his uncles, Alfred, Lionel, and Emil, composed and conducted film scores in Hollywood (see Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman). His family lived in various Southern cities, then, when Newman was seven, they settled in Los Angeles where he began to take piano lessons. He had begun writing songs by the age of 15 and while still in high school he was hired by Metric Music in California as a staff songwriter for a salary of $50 a week. Newman attended UCLA, where he studied music composition but left before completing his degree.

While at Metric, Newman wrote songs that were performed by many artists including the Fleetwoods, Gene McDaniels, and the O’Jays. One of his first songs to be widely recognized is “I think it's going to rain today,” recorded by Judy Collins in ...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...

Article

(b New York, NY, 12 June 1928). Popular songwriter. He is known for his collaborations with his brother Robert B. Sherman (b New York, NY, 19 Dec 1925; d London, 5 March 2012). Their father was the songwriter Al Sherman. In the 1950s they wrote the hit song “You’re sixteen” for Johnny Burnette and songs for Annette Funicello, which gained them the attention of Walt Disney, for whom they subsequently wrote the songs for the film The Parent Trap (1961). From the early 1960s, as staff writers for Disney, they contributed songs to films including The Sword in the Stone (1963), which began a long-term association with the feature-length animated film. In the same year they wrote “It's a small world” for the 1964 World's Fair, a song which has subsequently become identified worldwide with Disneyland. They went on to contribute the now classic score to ...