From the haunting classical score of Blue Velvet to the eerie ambient pop of Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s musical partnership with composer Angelo Badalamenti has been just as integral to his cult success as his mind-bending plots. While his collaborations with Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse, production on Julee Cruise’s first two records and his own solo efforts, 2011’s Crazy Clown Time and the upcoming The Big Dream, proved he could also apply his beautifully perplexing vision to outside of the big screen.
But Lynch’s relationship with music isn’t just confined to his own surreal body of work. Lana Del Rey’s blend of old school glamour, noirish pop and allusions to the sinister side of the American Dream appears to have been modelled entirely on Mulholland Drive. While the likes of Canadian post-rockabilly crooner Dirty Beaches, chamber-pop troubadour Perfume Genius and drone-metal singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe have all admitted to chasing that particular ‘Lynchian’ quality with their sound. Here’s a look at five sets of lyrics which have also been inspired by the strange and nightmarish world of cinema’s most unpredictable auteur.
A Twin Peaks obsessive, Marilyn Manson not only sampled the blood-curdling screams let out by Laura Palmer’s doppelganger during the cliffhanger finale on this typically schlocky horror cut from 1994 debut Portrait of an American Family. But he also borrowed the series’ opening line – the 911 call made following the discovery of Palmer’s body – as a metaphor for the ‘handcrafted housewives’ who wrap their furniture in plastic to keep the dirt out without realising that in fact they are trapping all the decay in: [LISTEN]
Bastille – “Laura Palmer”
Named after the ‘not so innocent’ homecoming queen whose death remained the source of mystery for two series, the title track from Bastille’s 2011 E.P. is perhaps the most overt Twin Peaks tribute out there as Dan Smith, whose deeply-affected delivery feels more suited to a slightly awkward elocution teacher than the frontman of a synth-pop outfit, replays the final desperate hours of her tragic life against a typically melodramatic backdrop of chest-beating drums, sweeping strings and pomp-rock melodies: [LISTEN]
Sampled by avant-garde metallers Mr. Bungle and anarchic supergroup Pigface, the early 90s alt-rock scene appears to have had a bizarre affinity with Lynch’s most heinous creation. But grebo merchants Pop Will Eat Itself produced perhaps the most mischievous appreciation of Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth (played to expertly deranged effect by the late Dennis Hopper), combining his expletive-laden speech from the lumberyard scene with nods to both his favourite Roy Orbison song (“In Dreams”) and apropos of nothing, the theme tune to Aussie soap opera Neighbours: [LISTEN]
Appearing on the same Cellar Door LP which also featured an homage to Requiem For a Dream, “Promising Actress” manages to encapsulate the cryptic and non-linear narrative of Mulholland Drive into four-and-a-half minutes of twinkling chamber pop, tapping into the confusion and insanity of its ‘seedy underbelly of Hollywood’ tale with various key plot points before delivering a simple yet inspired payoff about one of its most mysterious figures: [LISTEN]
Hardly in the same ‘glowing tribute’ ballpark as the tracks above, the hardcore punk pioneers keep the cinematic references short, if not exactly sweet, on this irony-laced attack on moronic drunks, comparing their puerile behaviour to that of the mutant child who only stops crying when its internal organs spill out during the stomach-churning finale of Lynch’s radical black-and-white body horror debut. The closing sound of a man vomiting couldn’t be more fitting: [LISTEN]