All week, Loser City is running Twin Peaks and David Lynch themed content in honor of the release of the new Twin Peaks boxed set, which came out yesterday, July 29th. Today, Joshua Palmer examines the music of Twin Peaks and its enduring influence on the contemporary dream-pop scene as well as its bold embrace of schlock within the context of Lynch’s own embrace of soap opera tropes and cliches.
- Released by Warner Brothers on September 7, 1990
- RIAA Gold Certified
- Peaked at 22 on The Billboard 200 in 1990
- Peaked at 16 on the Top New Age Albums chart in 1991
- First track “Twin Peaks Theme” won the Grammy award for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance,” beating out Kenny G, Phil Collins and Quincy Jones
- Features three tracks from dream-pop chanteuse Julee Cruise’s 1989 album Floating into the Night
- All lyrics written by David Lynch
- All music composed by Angelo Badalamenti
Audrey Horne was not the only one to take notice of the dreamy nature of Badalamenti’s music. Many (Lynch included) have placed it within the realm of dream-pop, a genre populated by wispy voices and musical textures that range from ephemeral to sumptuous. The undeniable forebears of the genre would be Cocteau Twins, a Scottish husband-and-wife team that made some of the most dazzling music of the eighties. While many have claimed that Badalamenti’s music for Lynch’s projects evokes the musical styles of dream-pop, it is worth noting that Soundtrack from Twin Peaks is worlds away from what Cocteau Twins and their contemporaries were doing in terms of musical sophistication and complexity.
What makes Twin Peaks so unique is how startlingly genuine Lynch’s approach to the form is. The show isn’t a pastiche in the way Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is. Instead of slyly combining individual elements of the genre to provide commentary on it, Lynch crams every conceivable soap opera trope into the show and is thus able to reinvigorate and amplify the dormant pathos within those tired clichés. And Badalamenti’s music functions in the same way. He commits whole-heartedly to the corny instrumental textures and by turning the cheese-knob up to eleven he manages to create sounds that are uniquely affective (the “Laura Palmer” theme gets me every fucking time). Musical complexity would only have served to mar the clarity of Twin Peaks’ aesthetic.
When I had the honor of introducing Twin Peaks to a friend of mine, she grew impatient with the intro at about the one minute mark. “God, why won’t it fucking end,” she groaned. I smiled to myself and shushed her until the show proper began. With each successive episode, her protests weakened, although whether that was out of respect for the show or simple resignation I can’t be sure. Regardless, she eventually fell in love with Twin Peaks (especially Dale Cooper) and when Audrey whispered her famous line, my friend replied “It is damn dreamy.”
Joshua Palmer is a writer, musician, and dilettante-about-town living in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Trinity University with a major in Wumbology, a minor in English, and did his Honors Thesis on the effects of listening to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds while crying in bed about stupid boys who don’t even deserve you. He does not have a twitter and apologizes to everyone for this.