Danny Elfman's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" transcends a movie some people didn't like for its dark view of holidays--even if you disliked the movie, you may like the CD because the music is so devilishly clever and literate. Elfman has managed to winningly combine the joy and purity of Christmas music with a darker look at this treasured holiday. The lyrics are terrific (innocently sung but baldly truthful) and the music swoops, soars, and turns back on itself with astonishing ease and imagination. It's like an aural roller coaster in the best possible sense of that image.
Elfman sings the part of main character Jack Skellington (the "Pumpkin King," or master of Halloween) here, and he does a masterful job of conveying Skellington's yearning to do something different and important. Skellington goes after the Christmas holiday with all his energy and ends up botching it badly. Elfman manages to show us Skellington's earnestness as well as his dark side--this is no cardboard character, but a real (if not flesh-and-blood!) person, and we care about him. Catherine O'Hara does a super job with her brief work here as Sally, the Frankensteinian rag doll who falls in love with Skellington.
This is a terrific paean to the holidays in general, and Christmas specifically. With each listen, you'll find new things to admire and love about Elfman's nimble, imaginative music.