Songs That Define Movies: Harry Belafonte and ‘Bitelchús’
Harry Belafonte: The King of Calypso
Recently, the world lost a legendary American musician – Harry Belafonte, who passed away at the age of 96. However, his music and cinematic contributions remain unforgettable. Belafonte’s songs have complemented great titles of the seventh art.
The Bitelchús Connection
‘Bitelchús‘, the paranormal comedy that launched Tim Burton’s career in 1988, featured Belafonte’s songs. His song ‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)’ became famous after that funny scene in which the characters start to dance at dinner, possessed by a mysterious force that compels them to do so.
Another Belafonte song, ‘Jump in the Line (Shake Señora)’ also appears in the movie, where Lydia starts to fly. The decision to use Belafonte’s songs in the film occurred during the filming of the dinner scene itself.
The Budget Factor
The film’s tight budget led the team to search for affordable options. Catherine O’Hara proposed adding calypso music and suggested songs like ‘Rum and Coca Cola’ or the own ‘Day-O.’ But the musician’s songs won the deal at an affordable price of $300. Producer David Geffen contacted Belafonte and requested permission to use his songs in the film.
Belafonte agreed, stating “I had never been offered something like this. We talked a bit, I liked the idea of ’Bitelchús,’ and I agreed to do it.” The result was a masterpiece, bringing together two greats – Harry Belafonte and Tim Burton.
In conclusion, Harry Belafonte’s contribution to the music industry and his collaborations with the cinema industry remain iconic to this day, and he will be missed.