Beetlejuice 2 Reviving The Original’s Iconic Song Creates A Problem For Michael Keaton’s Villain Return

Summary

  • The iconic song “Day-O” returns in Beetlejuice 2 but its tie to the Maitlands, not Beetlejuice, is crucial for understanding its role.
  • The emotional significance of “Day-O” at Charles’ funeral in Beetlejuice 2 hints at the Deetz-Maitland connection.
  • Expect more Harry Belafonte music in Beetlejuice 2, but Beetlejuice’s chaotic influence on possession scenes might pose a challenge.

The first Beetlejuice 2 trailer confirms that the original movie’s iconic song, “Day-O,” is being reused in the sequel, but its return requires some complex explanations in-universe. In addition to Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice becoming an iconic horror character and Winona Ryder rising to fame as goth teen Lydia Deetz, Tim Burton’s 1988 movie Beetlejuice is also fondly remembered for its use of Harry Belafonte’s 1956 song “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” in an iconic possession scene. Belafonte’s discography and calypso music had a notable presence throughout the original film, so the return of “Day-O” isn’t too surprising for Beetlejuice 2.

As a creepier, choral rendition of “Day-O” plays over the first Beetlejuice Beetlejuice trailer, it’s soon revealed that the song is diegetic, being sung by a children’s choir at the funeral of Beetlejuice’s deceased original character Charles Deetz. This is a callback to one of the most memorable scenes from Beetlejuice, which involved Charles (Jeffrey Jones), Delia Deetz (Catherine O’Hara), Otho (Glenn Shadix), and their associates being possessed into singing and dancing along to “Day-O” at the dinner table. However, while the song is an iconic part of the film, its return makes less sense without the presence of two original characters still missing from Beetlejuice 2’s returning cast.

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“Day-O” Was Orchestrated By The Maitlands (& Had Nothing To Do With Beetlejuice)

The effective chaos and mayhem in Beetlejuice is most commonly remembered to be associated with Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice, yet the film’s most famous possession scene had nothing to do with him. The “Day-O” sequence was orchestrated entirely by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis’ Adam and Barbara Maitland, the main recently deceased characters of Beetlejuice. The couple had been struggling to scare the Deetz family out of their home that they would be stuck in for another 125 years, so Adam and Barbara devised a plan to possess the dinner guests, make them dance the calypso, and force them to sing “Day-O.”

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Despite believing their plan to be a success, Charles, Delia, and their friends’ responses to the possession only made them more intrigued in capitalizing on the performative potential of the ghosts in their home. Considering how elaborate the possession was, it wouldn’t be surprising if audiences misremembered this as a scheme concocted by Beetlejuice, especially since his snake form appeared shortly after. However, the song choice is clearly associated with the Maitlands, who played Harry Belafonte songs, including “Day-O,” throughout the movie – it doesn’t seem like Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice spent much time listening to calypso music in the afterlife.

The song choice is clearly associated with the Maitlands, who played Harry Belafonte songs, including “Day-O,” throughout the movie.

With “Day-O” already being the primary song to promote Beetlejuice’s return in Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, the absence of Baldwin and Davis’ characters becomes more difficult to ignore. Neither Geena Davis nor Alec Baldwin have been confirmed to return, and while Davis made a great point about Adam and Barbara’s absence making sense due to the actors’ real aging, their characters’ legacies are integral to the sequel’s story. In addition to their song of choice, “Day-O,” being a theme of Beetlejuice 2, it’s the Maitlands’ town model in the attic that leads to Keaton’s demonic character returning.

Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis, and Alec Baldwin in Beetlejuice

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Beetlejuice 2’s “Day-O” Song At Charles’ Funeral Still Needs To Mention The Maitlands

Preacher and choir at Charles Deetz's funeral in Beetlejuice 2

“Day-O” isn’t just returning in the sequel’s trailer, but will also be featured during an important moment in Beetlejuice 2’s emotional story as the song is sung at the funeral of Lydia’s father. However, it doesn’t seem like the Deetzes were big fans of Belafonte until their 1988 possession, for which they have the Maitlands to thank. Charles was ecstatic after the possession, so the tune likely stuck with him as one of his most adventurous life experiences, but its use at his funeral suggests it became a staple song in the Deetz/Maitland household after Beetlejuice’s original ending.

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Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice with a colorful background

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With the song playing in Beetlejuice 2, the significance of “Day-O” would likely need to be explained by Belafonte’s music being constantly played while the families cohabitated in Winter River. This means that Adam and Barbara will at least have to receive a mention from one of Beetlejuice’s returning characters regarding the possession, as a new character like Jenna Ortega’s Astrid is unlikely to understand the context of “Day-O.” It now seems extremely unlikely that Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin will physically return for Beetlejuice 2, but their enduring impact on the Deetzes must still be addressed.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice will premiere in theaters on September 6, 2024. Beetlejuice (1988) is available to rent or purchase from digital retailers like Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice Using “Day-O” & Other Harry Belafonte Music Wouldn’t Make Sense For Beetlejuice 2

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice 2 with Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as Adam and Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice

Custom Image by Yeider Chacon

Though “Day-O” had the biggest set piece for a song’s inclusion in Beetlejuice, several other Belafonte tracks were featured on the 1988 horror-comedy’s soundtrack. For example, “Jump in the Line” was danced to by Lydia and the football team ghosts in the film’s final scene. Consequently, other Belafonte songs and calypso music are expected to return in Beetlejuice 2. The problem that could arise, however, is if the sequel associates them with the titular character’s chaos and possessions, as he was entirely removed from those sequences in the original movie. Rather, Keaton’s character needs to maintain the work of composer Danny Elfman for his possession scenes and themes.

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Beetlejuice 2 movie poster

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice is the sequel to the original Tim Burton classic that starred Michael Keaton and Wynona Rider in a horror-comedy that involved ghosts trying to scare off new homebuyers from taking their house. The sequel brings back Michael Keaton as the hilarious and sleazy ghost with selfish intentions, now joined by Jenna Ortega in a new role.

Release Date

September 6, 2024

Distributor(s)

Warner Bros. Pictures

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