Total Time: (36:49)
Apart from the main titles and the two Harry Belafonte songs, this CD is simply slow and boring, yet not completely unworthy of attention. The film was only Elfman and Burton's second collaboration. It was preceded by the light-hearted and silly Pee Wee's Big Adventure, which I am quite fond of, and was to be followed by Batman which is already regarded as a modern classic. Being in-between these two, one would think that both composer and director were more concerned with other matters. I think this may have been the case somewhat, but overall the film's laugh factor and the score's effectiveness within it are hardly without caring or heart.
Unfortunately, the most obvious flaw with the disc is (IMHO) the orchestrations, which are extraordinarily shallow. They're so sparce at some points that it sounds almost as if the orchestra is playing straight from Elfman's original sketches. Steve Bartek, who has had a hand in the orchestrations of (I think) every single Elfman score, was responsible for the arrangement duties, which makes me curious as to why the music sounds this way. In the movie, the other aspects of the soundtrack (acting and sound effects, of course) obviously mask these flaws.
The premier track is easily the best, and the main theme is so full of wicked humor that it fits the movie like a glove (talk about a cliched statement). One small section sounds remarkably similar to Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King, but it is too short to really be a rip-off, and besides, it adds well to the track. Another noteworthy track is "The Fly" which takes place during a scene in which the title character baits a giant fly (actually, he's just tiny like the fly) into a trap with a candy bar and I smirk whenever I hear the track and think about the film.
The Harry Belafonte songs don't really mix in well with the rest of the score and it would have probably been better for the song "Day-O" to be placed at the end of the disc with its counterpart, "Jump in Line." It's hard to this day to separate "Day-O" and the scene in which it appears because of the movie's macabre memorability.
Beetlejuice is an excellent score, but it simply fails on CD, and I can't really recommend it unless you're a rabid Elfman fan, or you find it used. If you want to hear the score the way it was truly intended, then I'd stick to the movie and forget about the soundtrack.