On 12.10.94 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association voted to give their Best Film Score trophy to Howard Shore‘s compositions for Tim Burton‘s Ed Wood. It may have been the first time that LAFCA has given such an award to an ironically composed score — one that was knowingly, wink-winkingly and brilliantly “bad”. Except that it wasn’t, of course. A better description might be that Shore was going for satirically banal.

Shore’s music was actually wonderful (and it still is), but you needed to listen to it with the right kind of ears. You had to understand that Shore had attempted to write music that might have been composed for an actual grade-Z Ed Wood film from the ’50s — cheesy-sounding but “in quotes.” Shore was more or less saying between the stanzas “do you get it?…the movie is kidding and so is the music.” There’s absolutely no question about Shore’s intent.

The LAFCA awards were handed out at the Bel Age Hotel on Saturday, 1.21.95, and longtime LAFCA member and L.A. Reader film critic Andy Klein presented the Shore award.

In his introductory remarks, or so the legend goes, Klein riffed on Shore’s music in a way that I’ve just attempted, calling it brilliantly insincere, satirically referenced, playfully composed, etc.

And yet to everyone’s surprise Shore was vaguely miffed at Klein’s remarks, or so I read afterwards. I don’t have a tape or a transcript of his acceptance speech, but I heard through the grapevine that Shore said something along the lines of “I don’t know what Andy Klein is on about but I didn’t write a score that was meant to be chuckled at.”

I asked Klein this morning if he could fill in the gaps. “The gist of what I said was that Shore managed to have it both ways — walking the line between being of the genre and being about the genre, as in campy,” Klein replied. “It was a compliment, suggesting he managed to do both. He took offense at the latter part, which struck me as weird.”

Question for HE commentariat: What other film scores could be fairly characterized as having been written ironically or with a general lack of sincerity? You could claim that almost any score for a comedy or a satirical genre spoof (like the score to The Spy Who Loved Me) might qualify as Ed Wood-like, but I don’t know. I’m not sure that anyone besides Shore has ever composed the same kind of score. You tell me.

I also believe that the opening Ed Wood credit sequence is absolute genius-level, and totally in keeping with the tone of the film.