The Sounds of BATMAN: Past and Present

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When you think about Batman, great music probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind.

The sounds of Batman tend to be ‘pow’ and ‘bop’, the comic-book effects that first appeared in the sixties when Adam West donned the cape. More recently, Batman has become a juggernaut of pop culture, but the first images the word conjures up are probably of The Joker or the moody Christian Bale scowling through his series of films. However, throughout history, Batman has featured some wonderful music.

The films have been a big success; Screen Rant describes Christopher Nolan‘s “Dark Knight” as the ultimate Batman movie, but Tim Burton‘s 1992 effort, simply titled “Batman,” brought the series back to life. Even as far back as Adam West, Batman was a cultural phenomenon. You can find not only the character in films and comic books but also many video games; back in the days of 8-bit machines, the Batman video game was one of the few movie tie-ins that got decent ratings. Today, the Arkham trilogy on PlayStation is widely regarded as the definitive Batman experience. For those on mobile devices, there are plenty of titles to fulfill your Caped Crusader thirst. Indeed, Gala Bingo has several casino games featuring Batman through the ages, from “The Dark Knight,” playing on the recent films, to “Batman: The Riddler Riches,” which has a distinct sixties flavor. There is even a Telltale Games series on iOS and Android and an Arkham Origins story. Mobile, console, computer; they’re all covered, and in each instance, you’ll find a great accompanying soundtrack.

There is only so much game developers can do with their music, as the action is decided by you, whether controlling Gotham’s hero or spinning the online slots. However, the action is pre-determined in a movie, which means much more scope to use music to benefit the film. You can find some great tracks tucked away in Batman films, and to prove that, we’ve selected three you might have missed.

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Face to Face

Formed in 1976, Siouxsie and the Banshees are a punk, post-punk rock band from London. They’re best known for “Kiss Them For Me” in the US, which charted at 40 on the Billboard charts. Face to Face, a 1992 hit for the band, featured on the hugely underrated “Batman Returns”. That movie brought in Danny DeVito as Oscar Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, one of the first genuinely menacing and dark Batman villains. The song, which is played at the masquerade ball at Wayne Manor, did chart at seven in the US alternative charts and is well worth revisiting.

The Offspring – Smash It Up

“Batman Forever” featured U2 as the title track, a paint-by-numbers rock song that did little to inspire audiences. While that, and Val Kilmer‘s rather wooden Batman, started the descent towards the awful “Batman and Robin,” it featured some great music. Notable tracks include “There Is a Light” by Nick Cave, Bad Days by The Flaming Lips and “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” by Massive Attack. The Offspring are still going strong today, but were also very much of the time; the film dropped in 1995, a great year for alternative punk in the US. This Damned cover gave the scene a strong link to original punk from 20 years earlier and made for a great relief from Jim Carrey‘s Riddler, not his finest work.

Smashing Pumpkins – The End if the Beginning is the End

The less said about “Batman and Robin”, the better; it is arguably the worst of all Batman movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cheesy villain, without menace or likeability, and George Clooney is one actor ill-suited to the Batman role. Still, whilst it is one to avoid in terms of the plot, dialogue, acting and characters, it does have a great soundtrack. Billy Corgan‘s band were one of the nineties’ best grunge/rock acts, and any chance we get to listen to their heavy, dirty guitars and strained vocals is a pleasure.


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