Blue Velvet

Composed By: Angelo Badalamenti

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the psychological thriller, Blue Velvet, college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachlan) returns home after learning his father has suffered a stroke.  Jeffrey cuts through a vacant lot on the way home from visiting his father at the hospital and finds a severed ear.  He takes the ear to the local police department and runs into an old acquaintance, Sandy Williams (Laura Dern).  A police detective’s daughter, Sandy has some insight into the case and believes that local lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) is connected with the case.  As Jeffrey and Sandy team up to try and solve the case, Jeffrey finds himself being drawn in to Dorothy’s world and her relationship with psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).

                The musical score of Blue Velvet was created by American composer Angelo Badalmenti.  Beginning with piano lessons at eight years old, Badalmenti’s skill with the piano earned him a summer job accompanying singers at resorts in the Catskill Mountains.  He received a Bachelor of Arts from the Eastman Music School and Master of Arts degrees in composition, French Horn and piano from the Manhattan School of Music.  Badalamenti began his scoring career in the 1970s, but his big break came in 1986 with Blue Velvet.  He would go on to collaborate with director David Lynch on a number of projects, including Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive.  Other credits include the musical scores of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Stalingrad, Auto Focus and more.

                As Blue Velvet is a mystery thriller with a detective noir feel, one would expect an old school orchestral jazz score.  I would be partially correct – the score of Blue Velvet is definitely full orchestral, featuring horns, woodwinds, strings and more.  That old detective noir feel is definitely there.  I loved Frank's theme, which features dark, dangerous sounding woodwinds and strings that are shot through with blasts of brass and Psycho-like violin screeches.  But perhaps the most recognizable theme is Mysteries of Love, which appears in the French Horn Solo format in and the Instrumental format on side one of the vinyl addition of the Blue Velvet LP that was released in May of 2017.  The second side of the album contains more score and songs from the movie, including Honky Tonk, In Dreams, Love Letters and Mysteries of Love (as performed by Julee Cruise).  The songs featured on this album range from pop to jazz and reflect the noir style of the film. 

                The Blue Velvet album is definitely something that fans of the David Lynch/Angelo Badalmenti collaborative era will want to get their hands on.  I found the album entertaining, but it just wasn’t my style of music.  That being said, I have no doubt that the score perfectly reflects the style and visuals of the film.  It’s best suited for fans of Badalmenti’s work.


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