Post Up: Batman’s Musical Mutations

The Dark Knight has survived many sonic iterations, even though its current spectacle hews closely to the conventional blockbuster score of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Which works just fine, thanks, considering the film recently broke the record for fastest ever to rack up $300 million. But before those two composers, everyone from Nelson Riddle and Prince to Danny Elfman and Siouxsie and the Banshees has chilled in the Batcave.

Although diehards may feel that Batman Forever and Batman and Robin were the franchise’s most colorful versions, the camp prize still belongs to the 1966 spin-off Batman film. Its bang!-pow!-oof! silliness was aided by big-bander Nelson Riddle, who also provided jazzy vocal direction for Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, as well as soul star Nat King Cole and more. Postwar America cared little for The Dark Knight’s troubled psychology, entranced as it was at the time with hot rods and Cold War stratagems. That spy-vs.-spy atmosphere gave the television show its unforgettable surf theme, which has since been covered by artists as different as The Ventures, Flaming Lips and Sun Ra.

And as much as Frank Miller’s epochal comic The Dark Knight Returns dragged Batman deeper into psychoanalysis, the bubbly pop wouldn’t die once Tim Burton took the reigns…


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