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Edward Scissorhands
Album Cover Art
1990 MCA
2011 Warner
Album 2 Cover Art
2015 Intrada
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Conducted by:
Shirley Walker

Orchestrated by:
Steve Bartek
Labels Icon
MCA Records
(December 11th, 1990)

Warner Brothers Records
(April 12th, 2011)

Intrada Records
(December 7th, 2015)
Availability Icon
The MCA album of 1990 was a regular U.S. release. The 2011 Warner set is a limited edition of 2,000 copies, sold for $500 primarily through the official site of the album. Consult with the separate review of that set for more details about its availability. The 2015 Intrada album is one of the label's regular commercial releases.
Nominated for a Grammy Award.
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Decorative Nonsense
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you don't mind ultra-expressive scores that aggressively jerk the tears right out of you, for Edward Scissorhands is perhaps the most impressively tragic fairy tale score of the digital era.

Avoid it... if subtlety or minimalism is your preferred method of introspection, because restraint is the last word a person could use to describe the overwhelming emotional appeal of this music.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 1/10/16
Edward Scissorhands: (Danny Elfman) The times for Tim Burton would never be better than in the early 1990's, with the immense success of Batman proving his financial viability and a sequel on the way to continue building upon that reputation. It would be the highly personal, satirical tragedies of Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas that would earn the director his most ardent fans, however. The social commentary of Edward Scissorhands speaks to the heart of any outcast, offering a stark glimpse of Vincent Price's final, suffering creation of horror thrust upon a "perfect" vision of 1950's suburbia. What Burton initially considered a limited reflection of his own difficulties "fitting in" during his teenage years became a reference point for ostracized youth everywhere, bringing audiences to tears in the process of pushing all the right sociological buttons. The fairy tale genre served both Burton and collaborating composer Danny Elfman well, the storytelling structure of both Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas allowing for extremely tight parameters that helped the scores for both films tell the stories by themselves. For Elfman specifically, Edward Scissorhands further heightened expectations for the young, classically untrained composer despite the fact that the project was seen as completely insignificant during its creation. Taking listeners by surprise as much as the film did the box office, the score remains a powerful juggernaut in album sales charts decades later, a common source for use as temp music and heavily influential in everything from live shows to television commercials. Its success remains slightly bittersweet in that the era would eventually reveal that the successive triumphs of Batman and Edward Scissorhands would not be equaled by the composer in any of the following years. Incidentally, both featured the orchestration work of Steve Bartek and the conducting of Shirley Walker, though the latter score was recorded in Los Angeles rather than London. While Batman appeals appropriately to classically oriented mainstream action collectors, Edward Scissorhands has special meaning for fans of Elfman's very specific early style of unconventional rhythms and unashamed harmony. The score is somewhat of an enigma, combining those two key elements of Elfman's early mannerisms and packaging them into one very serviceable score and album.

Nostalgically, Edward Scissorhands is one of Elfman's few scores (if not the only completely effective one) that balances the best of both the zany quirkiness of his earliest writing and the thematic enchantment of those that would follow. The most remarkable aspect of the score is its ability to tell Burton's story without the visuals. The album takes you on the journey of this fable with masterful precision, embodying the heart-wrenching emotions of Edward's discovery and downfall with thematic and choral elements never restrained. In terms of the orchestral ensemble, not much is different from Elfman's previous scores, though a significant role is given to the celesta and other high-ranging struck percussion. The celesta specifically offers dual representation of both the innocence of the main character and the wintry setting, lending a music-box style to the score that accentuates the bedtime storytelling ambience. The piano, while an integral part of other Elfman scores at the time, is largely displaced by the celesta, though a few notable piano solos are registered (the opening of "The Final Confrontation" is an obvious reminder of Beetlejuice due to its piano thuds). The harp returns from Batman, leaving behind its grand flourishes for deliberate plucking that, along with the strings, helps the celesta set the score's delicate rhythms. Rowdy rhythms for brass and bass woodwinds explode in the relentlessly rhythmic "The Cookie Factory," serving as the score's only true direct reminder of the sharp wackiness of Pee Wee and Beetlejuice. Few brass solos have an impact on the score, though the longing trumpet performance at the end of the title theme performance in "The End" (among other instrumental techniques heard in that cue) would largely foreshadow the upcoming spirit of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The true heart of Edward Scissorhands, though, is provided by the boy's and women's choral ensembles that brilliantly carry the imaginative elements of story and are rarely absent for longer than a minute or two in the score. It was not unusual for Elfman to employ such choral shades in his scores of the time, but the performances by the Paulist Choristers of California for Edward Scissorhands are incorporated with skill not heard elsewhere in any score of the 1990's, by Elfman or otherwise. After learning about choral techniques on the job, Elfman layers the singers brilliantly, allowing portions to serve as counterpoint within the group in an effort to maximize the harmonic resonance of the combined voices. The adult choir is emphasized alone in the score at times, though the more ethereal performances clearly define the work.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.31 Stars
***** 11,444 5 Stars
**** 4,593 4 Stars
*** 1,793 3 Stars
** 805 2 Stars
* 678 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1990 MCA Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 49:20
Part One: Edward Meets the World...

• 1. Introduction (Titles) (2:36)
• 2. Storytime (2:35)
• 3. Castle on the Hill (6:25)
• 4. Beautiful New World/Home Sweet Home (2:05)
• 5. The Cookie Factory (2:14)
• 6. Ballet de Suburbia (Suite) (1:17)
• 7. Ice Dance (1:45)
• 8. Etiquette Lesson (1:38)
• 9. Edwardo the Barber (3:19)
Part Two: ...Poor Edward!

• 10. Esmeralda (0:27)
• 11. Death! (3:29)
• 12. The Tide Turns (Suite) (5:31)
• 13. The Final Confrontation (2:17)
• 14. Farewell... (2:46)
• 15. The Grand Finale (3:26)
• 16. The End (4:47)
• 17. With These Hands - performed by Tom Jones (2:43)
2011 Warner Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 85:55
2015 Intrada Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 71:12

Notes Icon
The insert of the 1990 MCA album includes extensive credits, but no extra information about the score itself. The 2011 Warner set features some notes from Elfman about his choices of music for inclusion on the product. The insert of the 2015 Intrada product contains a list of performers and notes about the film and score, but it features no information about the production of the CD.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Edward Scissorhands are Copyright © 1990, 2011, 2015, MCA Records, Warner Brothers Records, Intrada Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 1/10/16.
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