Friends, as music was not a thing in my household when growing up, it shouldn’t come as much of a suprise to find out that my first brush with the music of Oingo Boingo was thanks to the 1985 sci-fi comedy Weird Science. The titular song of course being provided by Oingo Boingo for the film, which was written as well as directed by the late and great John Hughes (Mr. Mom, Sixteen Candles). A tune that apparently came together after Danny Elfman, lead singer and frontman for the band, had received a phone call from Hughes asking if he would provide the film’s title song. In fact thanks to an interview with Sean O’Neal of The A.V. Club from 2014 – it turns out that the music video for “Weird Science” is not an experience that Elfman looks back on fondly. The gist of the issue is that due to his schedule and workload, the singer, songwriter, and composer didn’t have any creative control over the video itself.
The origins of Oingo Boingo came about in Los Angeles of 1972, when Danny’s older brother Richard formed a street theater band named The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo – a nod it would seem to a club featured in the Amos ‘n’ Andy television series. Danny Elfman became part of the group just two years later and by 1979 had taken over leadership of the band, transforming it from a musical act to a New Wave group. The band’s success in Los Angeles resulted in three albums being produced, beginning in 1981 with Only a Lad, followed by Nothing to Fear the following year, and Good for Your Soul in ’83.
During a brief hiatus in 1984 – before the band would reunite with a new keyboardist and bassist and release Dead Man’s Party in ’85, they appeared in a rather spirited Budweiser TV commercial. You might be interested to know that in the comments section for the video, Gerry Mandel who was the creative director at the D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles ad agency, revealed that the commercial came about thanks to Oingo Boingo providing them with a radio track. In addition, Mandel mentions that it was William “Bill” Dear who directed the commercial. I bring this up because Dear also helmed Michael Nesmith’s Elephant Parts, Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann, as well as Harry and the Hendersons!
In closing out this article, I want to thank one of my best friends for being kind enough to send me a link to the 1984 Oingo Boingo Budweiser commercial in the first place. I most assuredly never saw it back in the day – what about you though?