Though his jazzy, sometimes nightmarish compositions have earned film composer Angelo Badalamenti a special place in the David Lynch canon, the tireless musician has also found success with such world-renowned filmmakers as Jane Campion (Holy Smoke, 1999) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (The City of Lost Children, 1995). A native of Brooklyn, NY, who spent his childhood enjoying the lavish auditory pleasures of opera and classical music, later studies at the Eastman and Manhattan Schools of Music found the lifelong music lover coming into his own as a composer.
Badalamenti made his cinematic debut with his score to Ossie Davis' 1973 adventure Gordon's War, and though he would quickly follow with music for the 1974 comedy drama Law and Disorder, it would be over a decade until his first collaboration with Lynch provided his breakout composition. Badalamenti's slinky, menacing contribution to Lynch's 1986 mystery Blue Velvet offered the perfect musical backdrop for a film in which little is what it seems and deadly secrets lurk closely beneath the idyllic surface of Smalltown, U.S.A. Though Badalamenti was initially brought on for the sole reason of coaching actress Isabella Rossellini for her singing scene, the fact that Lynch was unable to secure the rights to use "Song of the Siren" in the climactic scene left the gates open for the eager composer to supply his own, equally compelling piece. Subsequent contributions to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and Christmas Vacation (1989) found Badalamenti slightly expanding his versatility, though his creepy contributions to the 1989 suburban cannibal comedy Parents would serve as a telling precursor to his most famous work to date.
Approached by Lynch to score the pilot to his new television series Twin Peaks, Badalamenti enthusiastically agreed, and the unforgettable "Twin Peaks Theme" would forever engrain itself into the hearts of television lovers worldwide. Of course, Badalamenti would also make many other indispensable musical contributions to the series, and around this time the composer also teamed with singer Julee Cruise to assist in the recording of her album Floating into the Night. The same year Twin Peaks debuted, Badalamenti explored the distinctive New Orleans sound in Lynch's Wizard of Oz-themed road movie Wild at Heart. His contributions to the feature Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) found Badalamenti successfully expanding on his signature soundscape with such jazzy nightmares as "A Real Indication" (for which he also provided vocals). Again collaborating with Lynch for the short-lived television series On the Air (1992) and Hotel Room (1993), Badalamenti provided the opening theme to Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio and scored the quirky The City of Lost Children before returning to work with Lynch on Lost Highway. Though this time he would appear among the likes of Marilyn Manson and Rammstein, his familiar score was the glue that held the rest of the music together and his screeching jazz nightmare "Red Bats With Teeth" provided the manic intensity which drove the film. His subsequent contribution to Lynch's sentimental 1999 effort The Straight Story found his usually ominous musical scheme considerably lightened and equally as effective as his darker work.
The late '90s found numerous other directors discovering the effectiveness of a Badalamenti score, and around the turn of the millennium, he would score everything from the made-for-television mafia drama The Last Don (1997) to Danny Boyle's eagerly anticipated box-office failure The Beach (2000). Though he would once again re-team with Lynch for the critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive (2001), his scores to the following year's Secretary and Auto Focus proved equally as effective. In 2002, Badalamenti teamed with Lynch protégé Eli Roth to provide the musical backdrop to Roth's much-praised indie horror effort Cabin Fever.