The Joup Friday Album: The Phantom of the Paradise OST

phantomofparadiseTwo years before he tackled Carrie in 1976 to open himself up to a much wider audience, Brian De Palma made the absolutely bonkers musical/rock opera/horror schlock film The Phantom of the Paradise. The movie is a take on The Phantom of the Opera and Faust, but taking place within the music industry. William Finley plays the wide-eyed Winslow Leach, an aspiring music composer and singer whose songs catch the eyes and ears of satanic record producer and club promoter Swan, played wonderfully and devilishly (pun absolutely intended) by Paul Williams. From there, we have love, betrayal, murder, mutilation, a deal with the devil, and a string of grand, rock and roll music numbers.

The movie also uses an awesome emblem for their fake record label, Death Records:


Seriously, that’s pretty damn cool.

I first saw The Phantom of the Paradise late one night during a horror movie marathon, and what immediately struck me and dragged me in was the music. There’s the 50’s throwback doo-wop of The Juicy Fruits, the surf-rock of The Beach Bums, and the glam/goth rock of The Undeads (all the same band) to get you started. Then there’s the bombastic glam of Beef, the singer/songwriter piano ballads of Winslow Leach, and the 70’s power-pop of Phoenix. It’s all fun, and it’s all wonderful, if not a little kitschy. But, what really makes the soundtrack special is the inclusion of Paul (“The Rainbow Connection”) Williams. There is a vulnerability to Williams’s voice that makes every word seem like it’s coming from deep within his heart, even when it’s a little silly. And there’s a weathered quality to that same voice that gives every note a sense of gravitas that would be lost on other performers. Just listen to the somber and longing “Phantom’s Theme” or the smirking grin and glam of “The Hell of It.” They could easily have served as hit singles on a Paul Williams solo album, staples on some 70’s AM radio station, but in the context of the movie, they’re absolutely sublime.

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with this film and soundtrack ever since. And I want you to be too.

After you’ve listened to the soundtrack (and bought it maybe?), I implore you to watch the movie as well if you’ve never seen it…or if you have, to watch it again.


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Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

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