The artistic genius, the driving force, the hub of Oingo Boingo is unquestionably Danny Elfman. Others made key contributions to the sound of the band but there would be no oingo in the boingo with Elfman. He put out a solo album which for all intents and purposes is another Oingo Boingo album.
The fact that the theater troupe transformed into the rock band and then ended before it faded away is all due to Elfman. Maybe a little bit to Tim Burton who hired him to score Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and then went on to work with him on most of Burton’s movies. Success as a soundtrack composer certainly contributed to Elfman closing the chapter on Oingo Boingo and pop music. Elfman has since contributed to a number of movie and television soundtracks — some of which is collected on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1.
Here’s an interview around the release of Sam Raimi’s Darkman right were Elfman was making the transition from Oingo Boingo to composer.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but he’s been nominated and won a number of awards for his work scoring projects: 4 Oscar nominations; 1 Annie win; 1 Emmy win and another nomination; 1 Grammy and 10 other nominations. It’s almost to the point where he will almost certainly be remembered first and foremost for his move and television scoring and his pop career will come second.
He did do a bunch of interviews when a 25 year anniversary of Oingo Boingo collection came out.
I don’t know much about his private life. Obviously his brother Richard Elfman was an early collaborator. He is the uncle of actor Bodhi Elfman, who is married to actress Jenna Elfman. He has been married to Bridget Fonda since 2003.
The pop band Oingo Boingo started off an basically an experimental avant garde theatre troupe called the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. When I was growing up I just missed this phase of the band and in the pre-Internet era tracking down “knowledge” of all aspects of the band was not just a badge of your “fandom” of the band — it was hard. I’ve learned a thousand times more about the history of the band in the last 10 years then I ever did in the moment back then.
Pictures and music of them playing in clubs from Tom Sewell:
This youtube channel also has a ton of their performances posted. There are two performances that fully capture what I imagine this part of the band history. One, Danny Elfman’s brother Richard Elfman made a bizarre film called The Forbidden Zone that featured a lot of the Mystic Knights in it (as well as their music) and two, believe or not, they were on the Gong Show as contestants. If you are too young to remember this show it was mostly a proto-version of those early American Idol episodes where they feature bad performers. Well not exactly — it was more like the variety show that is America’s Got Talent. Just much weirder talents on display. Here’s is it:
The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo was the sound track to my years in highschool and some of college. For those of us growing up listening to KROQ one would think Oingo Boingo was really popular and they were, but after moving to the East Coast as an adult it was interesting to learn it was actually a bit of a west coast phenomenon. I think I’m going to do a series of posts this week on different aspects of the band. (Nothing too deep and probably I’ll have to come back and update them)
Their biggest hits probably came from a contribution to a movie soundtrack. The title track to Weird Science (above) was a hit? Weirdly enough, according to Wikipedia, they also had an almost recurring gig in Hollywood as the band in the party scene – I remember them in the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School. I’m not actually sure if Wikipedia means they appeared as a band in a scene in each of these movies, but I think that’s the gist:
They also had a song or two on several movie soundtracks including a bunch of iconic “teen” movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sixteen Candles, Bachelor Party, and Back to School. Other soundtracks featuring Oingo Boingo songs included: The Last American Virgin, Surf II, Something Wild, Midnight Run, Ghostbusters II, and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
I just finished Aurora, the latest novel from Kim Stanley Robinson. Kim Stanley Robinson is a writer of hard science fiction who brings logical, methodical extrapolation to any topic he ponders. He is, despite all of that, a fairly poetic fellow who often detours from physics to philosophy and the human condition. But still, hard science.
Aurora is a very interesting but ultimately somewhat unsatisfying novel. As the book progresses it becomes apparent that the hero of the story, the true protagonist, isn’t human at all but the very interstellar ship that takes the humans on their long, long journey through the stars. There are some very interesting philosophical meanderings posed by Robinson in the voice of the ship’s artificial intelligence. But the human characters are much less interesting than the hardware in this book. That strikes me as something I’ve felt upon reading previous Robinson novels – that the characters never quite live up to the world building involved. Still large stretches of Aurora are fascinating and even if the book didn’t go where I wanted it to, it was hard to put down for long while reading.
And regardless of any complaints I keep coming back to Robinson’s novels. They are big and intense enough that I don’t want to read his work too often — but I have finished six of them now. The last one I finished was 2312 which I read in 2012.
The Mars trilogy
- Red Mars (1993) – Colonization
- Green Mars (1994) – Terraforming
- Blue Mars (1996) – Long-term results
- Galileo’s Dream (2009)
- 2312 (2012)
- Aurora (2015)
Have Not Read
The Three Californias series
Science in the Capital series
Reading a collection of the original Wonder Woman comics and sketching…
Watched Men In Black with M last night — it holds up pretty well actually. Still think the whole “galaxy in a marble” plot point probably should have been explained a bit — it’s such a pointless macguffin it does kind of derail the world-building of the movie for me.
I had forgotten a couple of things — one how much the movie milked the “celebrities are really aliens” joke. The supermarket rags as the source of the real news is cute. There was also a joke about replacing CDs with a much smaller CD — that one was completely lost on the X-girl.
But also why didn’t the series keep Linda Fiorentino around? The first movie actually ends with Tommy Lee Jones leaving the MiB service and Linda taking over as Will Smith’s partner. I guess Tommy Lee Jones was a big star but I would have much rather have watched sequels with Linda and Will.