December 16, 2007

Man, those horns can enunciate!

At last Monday's BQT, I asked the following question:

Q: How many times is the word “Batman” sung in the theme song to the Batman TV show of the 1960s?

The correct answer is 11. Only one team got it (Enola Gay Agenda, naturally)—most of the wrong answers weren't that far off, though a few people surprised me with things like "1" or "83 1/2." Didn't realize it would be so hard; that damn song was imprinted upon my DNA when I was a child.

But a couple days later, I got an interesting MySpace message from Strippers for Stephen Hawking's Shaolin representative, Greg:

after re-listening to the batman theme and i believe it is all instrumental! if you have the theme, take a listen again and i swear the words batman are not sung but instrumental stings timed at the precise moment to sound like batman, its very evident on the last "batman" before it ends take a listen and please let me know

Hmm. Is it possible? The word "Batman" is never sung in the theme song—it's merely horns cunningly orchestrated to sound like a passel of cheesy '60s session singers chanting the name? The Batman theme was written and recorded by Neil Hefti, one of the best in the scoring business in the '60s, so if anyone could do it, it would be him. Judge for yourself:

First of all, who the hell is the guy behind Catwoman with the pillowcase over his head? Been wondering that since I was six.

Anyway, I hear what Greg was saying. Those "Batman!!!"s sound suspiciously like horn blasts. But I not buying it—it's definitely human beings singing there—you can hear the hard "B" at the beginning of the word. I think the "messy" effect is simply a function of the kind of Wall of Sound–type production that Hefti was employing.

Regardless, that's one awesome TV theme song. One of the all-time best, possibly second only to the excellent, excellent Mr. T theme.


Chompers said...

Discussed on ten years ago:
Paul Stuart wrote:
> Specifically, when "Batman", "Batman", Batman" is heard during the
> latter part of the theme, are these actual people singing "Batman"
> or are these the sounds of trombones? One group of friends
> insisted that it was the voices of singers singing "Batman", "Batman",
> etc. that they heard. The other group of friends insisted that
> these sounds were trombones made to simulate people singing these
> same words!

I collect different versions of the theme and on the original
Hefti version it IS backup singers. You can hear them on other
tracks on the original soundtrack released in 1966.

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