Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Batman: The Brave and The Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister: Original Television Soundtrack" (Neil Patrick Harris and Various, 2009)


Composed by Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter

Vocals Performed by Neil Patrick Harris, Grey DeLisle, James Arnold Taylor, John DiMaggio, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, Jeff Bennett and Diedrich Bader

"Batman: The Brave and The Bold" Theme Composed by Andy Sturmer

Produced by New Line Records

Track Listing:

1: "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" Theme – Andy Sturmer (0:32)
2. "I'm The Music Meister" – Neil Patrick Harris (5:55)
3. "Drives Us Bats" – Neil Patrick Harris and Various (1:46)
4. "If Only" – Neil Patrick Harris and Grey DeLisle (2:35)
5. "Death Trap" – Neil Patrick Harris and Grey DeLisle (1:49)
6. "The World Is Mine" – Neil Patrick Harris (3:33)
7. "If Only" (Reprise) – James Arnold Taylor and Grey DeLisle (2:03)
8. "Drives Us Bats" (Mayhem Of The Music Meister End Credits) – Neil Patrick Harris and Various (0:32)


It’s a testament to the creativity and ambition of the producers and show runners responsible for “Batman: The Brave and The Bold” when they can take the format of a half-hour super hero cartoon aimed at young children and incorporate the beautiful gift of music into it.

Of course episodes of the show had featured score beforehand thanks to the talent and effort of longtime collaborators Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter. But the Season 1 episode “Mayhem of the Music Meister” raises the bar tenfold, creating an episode build upon a foundation of orchestration and vocals that works wonders for creating an incredible atmosphere of cultural appreciation.


Introducing young children to music is highly commendable and the fact that it’s Batman makes it that much better!

Created in the tradition of musical stage production and attuned to the recent surge of its popularity with shows such as “A Chorus Line,” “Jersey Boys,” “West Side Story” and “Wicked,” the soundtrack to “Mayhem of the Music Meister” is infectious and theatrical, given even more quality with the participation of cast members such as the welcome Neil Patrick Harris and the lovely Grey DeLisle.

Let’s take a look at the tracks individually:


"Batman: The Brave and the Bold" Theme


Composer Andy Sturmer’s theme for the television series echoes the flight and whimsy of the 60s television series with its brass instrumentation and percussion. To tell you the truth, the theme reminds me of a lot of the music specifically from Nelson Riddle’s score to the ’66 movie, especially the material for when Batman and Robin take to the seas in the Batboat in search of the Penguin’s submarine. It’s delightfully zany and sets the mood for this animated Batman each episode with a heroic undertone that plays up his inability to lose.


"I'm The Music Meister"

NOTE: Ignore the Video; the Point is the Song.

As we open the episode, a collection of foes including Black Manta and Gorilla Grodd find themselves inexplicably forced into a need to express themselves through the power of song as they come under the spell of the one and only Music Meister, voiced and performed by Neil Patrick Harris. I think Harris, with his background in theatre and previous experience in that community as both an active participant and recurring host of the Tony Awards, lends himself perfectly to the character. The concept of the character works very well with the aesthetic of the show and its tone and this opening number is a reflection of that with its wonderful vocals.


"Drives Us Bats"

One of my two favorites off the album, this is just fun and theatricality at its most infectious. The tempo is rollicking as Batman gives chase throughout Gotham City in pursuit of the Music Meister and the lyrics are a wonderful homage to the caped crusader himself, and how he’s so proficient that he drives both friend and foe berserk. The track is full of swagger and beat; very 80s eclectic in its pace and presentation and I love the guitar work that plays in undercurrent. Of course the song works exceptionally well when perceived from the point of the view of the villains but I find it charming that even other heroes like Aquaman and Green Arrow get in on the fun, commenting about how no matter how hard they try, they can never reach the level of respect and popularity that Batman holds. It’s funny because it’s true. I love DC Comics super heroes, but they’ve all got a point on this one.


"If Only"


No Broadway exhibition would be complete without a full blown romantic ballad. Somewhat campy and deliberately relatable, “If Only” sings a tale of what one might call unrequited love that befalls a collection of our characters. The Music Meister sings his portion for Black Canary while Black Canary sings hers for Batman. It’s a tender moment of vulnerability for these mythic figures as they vocalize their possible yearnings for one another. However, the song’s true intent unveils itself as each performer reveals their true love; fighting villainy and being villainous as per the individual character. Harris’ vocals are tremendous here, demonstrating the aforementioned vulnerability and it’s a touching, albeit comical song.


"Death Trap"


Capped with a hard edged foundation of percussion and guitar that picks up its tempo from the get-go, “Death Trap” is a playful tip of the cap to the precarious scenarios the villains always had a knack for placing Batman in throughout their history. This idea carries with the Music Meister as he lyrically describes what would possibly be the moving parts of this omnipotent contraption (“Gears Grindin,’ Ropes Bindin,’ Coils Windin,”) and the resulting fatality of their operations. The exponentially rising pace wonderfully metaphors the concept of death inching itself closer and closer, building tension as a result as we sit in awe, wondering if Batman will make it out alive.

"No encore for you THIS time, Batman."


"The World Is Mine"

My other favorite track from the collection, “The World Is Mine” plays as a hypnotic counterpoint to “I’m the Music Meister.” The track has a wonderful sense of pitch and beat; it’s not too fast and the fact that it’s a bit slower, more methodical lends itself to the villainy of the Music Meister very well. The brass work is generous and brilliant, flourishing with immense boldness and brevity. It’s a delightful ode to the villain of the episode and it’s over the top in all the right ways.


"If Only" (Reprise)


Keeping in the Broadway tradition, the album comes complete with its own reprisals. As Batman leaves to fight crime, Black Canary reiterates her feelings for him while looking up to the Bat-Signal. However, another voice adds itself to the mix, creating a duet between Canary and Green Arrow. This is a great nod to the comics, where Dinah and Oliver are well recognized for having a romantic relationship with one another which eventually blossomed into marriage with their “Wedding Special” published by DC Comics in 2007. Personally, I find James Arnold Taylor’s voice a better match for DeLisle and they play off each other’s emotional fluctuations tremendously.


"Drives Us Bats" ("Mayhem of the Music Meister" End Credits)


The album and episode end on a high note with the reprise of “Drives Us Bats,” which I suspect was meant to be the highlight for the show runners since it’s given the final word so to speak. Just as great as the full track, condensed and shortened for the end credits of the show.


With the gimmick of the Music Meister, the soundtrack to the episode fits seamlessly with his interpretation and approach.

It’s just an incredible feeling to know that a property like Batman can so easily and passionately lend itself to a concept like an episode packed with Broadway style numbers; again, that just goes to show how durable the character truly is.

Slightly criticized for its briefness (imagine that; criticism because there isn’t enough music!), the soundtrack was critically acclaimed and went on to win “The Brave and The Bold” an Emmy award for musical excellence in a half hour program.

A worthwhile addition to any Batman music collection to be sure!



 Neil Patrick Harris

 Grey DeLisle

James Arnold Taylor

Andy Sturmer

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