Wednesday, August 25, 2010

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS: Cross-Pollinization!

Since I first heard them in 1986, the Little Shop songs have been like a personal scavenger hunt for me, as I explore 60s music and find all the little references which make this an indelible bit of Baby Boomer nostalgia.

By design, the Little Shop score evokes MotownDoo-Wop and the songs of Ellie Greenwich as produced by Phil SpectorAs a point of comparison, Menken's Brill-Building-inspired, piano-driven pop is very much in the same vein as Billy Joel's.  Of course, Menken marries these pop/rock influences to a classic Broadway sound, exemplified by Rodgers & Hammerstein (The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, etc) and Lerner & Loewe (My Fair Lady, Camelot etc), with just a smidgen of Kurt Weill in there, too.  Menken's musical style is also quite consonant with that of Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked).  It is surely no accident that both composers have been tapped by Disney for its newer films.

As for Howard Ashman's lyrical style and its possible influences, that is a much more difficult thing to pin down, though of course the book and lyrics abound with witty references to pop hits of the era.  One might observe that his clever, idiomatic lyrics recall the work of Frank Loesser (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Guys & Dolls, etc).

These general influences aside, I have found a lot of direct musical and lyrical quotations, and I thought it would be fun to enumerate them, with links galore for your listening pleasure.  Click "Read More" for the full list.  I advise right-clicking on links to open in a new tab, so you can listen & read without interruption.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I have been waiting for someone to do this!