Labyrinth (1986 soundtrack)

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Labyrinth (David Bowie album) coverart.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Released23 June 1986 (1986-06-23)
RecordedJuly–September 1985
LabelEMI AML 3104
David Bowie chronology
Never Let Me Down
Trevor Jones chronology
Runaway Train
Dominick and Eugene
Singles from Labyrinth
  1. "Underground"
    Released: 9 June 1986
  2. "Magic Dance"
    Released: January 1987

Labyrinth is a soundtrack album by David Bowie and composer Trevor Jones, released in 1986 for the film Labyrinth. It was the second of three soundtrack releases in which Bowie had a major role, following Christiane F. (1981) and preceding The Buddha of Suburbia (1993). The soundtrack album features Jones' score, which is split into six tracks for the soundtrack: "Into the Labyrinth", "Sarah", "Hallucination", "The Goblin Battle", "Thirteen O'Clock", and "Home at Last".


Director Jim Henson approached Bowie to take part in the film in 1983 during Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour, when he showed Bowie early designs for the movie and a tape of The Dark Crystal (1982). Bowie had wanted to make music for a children's film and saw this as his chance.[1] Bowie recorded five songs for the film: "Underground", "Magic Dance", "Chilly Down", "As the World Falls Down", and "Within You". The film's theme song, "Underground", features on the soundtrack twice, first in an edited version that was played over the film's opening sequence and secondly in full. The only song Bowie did not the perform lead vocals on is "Chilly Down", which was performed by Charles Augins, Richard Bodkin, Kevin Clash, and Danny John-Jules, the actors who voiced the 'Fire Gang' creatures in the film.[2]


The soundtrack album was released in July 1986 to coincide with the film's US premiere.[3] "Underground" was released in various territories as a single in June 1986,[4] and in certain markets was also released in an instrumental version and an extended dance mix.[5] In January 1987 "Magic Dance" was released as a 12" single in limited markets, including the US.[6] "As the World Falls Down" was initially slated for release as a follow-up single to "Underground" at Christmas in 1986, but this plan did not materialize.[7]

In 2017, the album was remastered and reissued on vinyl by Capitol Records, with a replication of the original jacket and artwork, including the original release's EMI America logo[8][9] and inner sleeve featuring photos of Bowie from the film.[10] A second pressing the same year also included limited runs of green and lavender coloured vinyl.[11][10]


The soundtrack was advertised in music trade papers such as Billboard.[12] Steve Barron produced promotional music videos for "Underground" and "As the World Falls Down".[13] The music video for "Underground" features Bowie as a nightclub singer who stumbles upon the world of the Labyrinth, encountering many of the creatures seen in the film. The clip for "As the World Falls Down" integrates clips from the film, using them alongside black-and-white shots of Bowie performing the song in an elegant room.

Though Bowie was not heavily involved in promoting Labyrinth, Jim Henson was nonetheless grateful that he had made the promotional music videos, saying, "I think it's the best thing he could have done for the film."[14] Barron's videos for "As the World Falls Down" and "Underground" so impressed Henson that he recruited Barron to direct his television series The StoryTeller.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores

Upon release in 1986, Labyrinth reached #68 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States[16] and #38 on the United Kingdom's Official Albums Chart.[17] The album re-entered the Official Albums Chart in 2017, peaking at #58.[18] According to biographer David Buckley in 2015, the Labyrinth soundtrack was Bowie's third-best selling iTunes album in the United Kingdom.[19]

Adam Trainer in Senses of Cinema described Bowie's five songs as "spirited and imaginative ... presenting satisfying melodies and singalong choruses" such as that of "Magic Dance". However, while writing that the songs work well within the context of the film, "echoing its plotline and themes such as imagination, fun and fantasy", Trainer considered the songs to be over-produced and too "self-consciously pop".[20] Sean Stangland of the Daily Herald wrote "The five songs [Bowie] wrote for the film are as confoundingly diverse as the rest of his career."[21] Derek Biederstadt of Screen Rant described Bowie's Labyrinth songs as "absolute earworms that contribute to his legacy just as much as Ziggy Stardust and all the rest."[22]

The Labyrinth soundtrack has been included on lists of the top 50 movie soundtracks by Paste magazine[23] and Gigwise.[24] MovieWeb ranked Labyrinth number one on its list of the best film soundtracks of the 1980s.[25]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Opening Titles Including Underground"music by Trevor Jones; lyrics by Bowie3:21
2."Into the Labyrinth"Jones2:12
3."Magic Dance"Bowie5:13[a]
5."Chilly Down"Bowie3:44
Side two
1."As the World Falls Down"Bowie4:51
2."The Goblin Battle"Jones3:31
3."Within You"Bowie3:30
4."Thirteen O'Clock"Jones3:06
5."Home at Last"Jones1:49
Total length:43:33


Credits per biographer Nicholas Pegg.[26]



Chart performance for Labyrinth
Chart (1986) Peak
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[27] 39
European Albums (Music & Media)[28] 39
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[29] 29
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[30] 15
UK Albums (OCC)[31] 38
US Billboard 200[32] 68


  1. ^ On the 2017 vinyl reissue, "Magic Dance" has been edited down to 4:13


  1. ^ Owen, Williams (17 May 2016). "Labyrinth: The behind-the-scenes history". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Labyrinth Liner Notes". Labyrinth (Liner Notes). David Bowie. EMI. 1986.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  3. ^ Pegg (2016), "Labyrinth" in chapt. The Albums
  4. ^ Pegg (2016), p. 294, "Underground" in chapt. The Songs From A to Z
  5. ^ a b McDonald, Steven. "Labyrinth [From the Original Soundtrack of the Jim Henson Film] – Trevor Jones". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2 June 2021. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  6. ^ Pegg (2016), "Magic Dance" in chap. The Songs from A to Z.
  7. ^ Pegg (2011), p. 28
  8. ^ Gaca, Anna (26 April 2017). "David Bowie's Labyrinth Soundtrack Is Getting a Vinyl Reissue". Spin. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  9. ^ Strauss, Matthew (26 April 2017). "David Bowie's Labyrinth Soundtrack Gets First Vinyl Reissue". Pitchfork. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b Bonner, Michael (28 June 2017). "David Bowie's Labyrinth soundtrack set for vinyl reissue". Uncut. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  11. ^ Draper, Jason (17 June 2017). "David Bowie's 'Labyrinth' Soundtrack Released On Coloured Vinyl". UDiscover Music. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  12. ^ McGowan, Chris (21 June 1986). "Soundtrack Fastlane Already Facing Congestion As Labels Strengthen Crossover Links In Marketing Chain". Billboard. Vol. 99, no. 25. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  13. ^ Pegg (2016), pp. 27, 294
  14. ^ "'Labyrinth' Music Video Applauded". Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 4 July 1986. p. 23. ProQuest 389704937
  15. ^ Pegg (2016), p. 294
  16. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  17. ^ "Labyrinth (OST)". Official Charts. Archived from the original on 1 February 2022. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  18. ^ "Labyrinth". Official Charts. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  19. ^ Buckley (2015), p. 70
  20. ^ Trainer, Adam (October 2003). ""Well, I Wouldn't Buy the Merchandise": David Bowie as Postmodern Auteur". Senses of Cinema. No. 28. ISSN 1443-4059. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  21. ^ Stangland, Sean (15 January 2016). "For kids of the '80s, Bowie will always be the Goblin King". Daily Herald. Arlington Heights, Illinois. p. A31.
  22. ^ Biederstadt, Derek (15 May 2022). "10 Best Standalone Fantasy Films". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on 16 May 2022. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  23. ^ Saunders, Hillary (11 April 2016). "The 50 Best Movie Soundtracks". Paste. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  24. ^ Gregory, Jason (2 April 2010). "The Top-50 Movie Soundtracks of All Time". Gigwise. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  25. ^ Kepins, Sarah (7 January 2022). "Best Film Scores of the '80s". MovieWeb. Archived from the original on 7 January 2022. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  26. ^ Pegg 2011, p. 426.
  27. ^ " – Soundtrack / David Bowie / Trevor Jones – Labyrinth" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  28. ^ "European Hot 100 Albums" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 3, no. 27. 12 July 1986. p. 19. OCLC 29800226 – via World Radio History.
  29. ^ " – Soundtrack / David Bowie / Trevor Jones – Labyrinth" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  30. ^ " – Soundtrack / David Bowie / Trevor Jones – Labyrinth". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  31. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  32. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 2 August 2022.

External links[edit]