To understand why, first you can forget about Chris Isaak's "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing"; the minute-long trailer contains more of the song than the movie does. Isaak's tune plays a definite role in the film, underscoring an early scene between Cruise and Kidman and adding an ominous riff to what seems a tender moment. But by then Kubrick has already employed enough musical cues with multi-layered messages to keep you on your toes.
For the opening, a stately waltz is employed with the same satiric effect that Rossini supplied in Clockwork Orange. But it was a masterstroke for Kubrick to use Shostakovich's "Waltz 2," a deliberate attempt to out-Strauss Strauss that unforgettably mixes Viennese elegance with Russian grandeur. Played as source music, it captures both the couple's opinion of themselves and the depths they've yet to explore.
At the extravagant party that follows, the dance hall arrangement of standards ("I Only Have Eyes for You," "It Had to Be You"), coupled with the cavernous, overlit hall, connects these devoted parents of a single child with another happy Kubrick clan, the Torrances, and the lovely ballroom at the Overlook Hotel.
Score composer Pook's medieval drones play over Cruise's self-torturing images of Kidman's infidelity and the lengthy masked ball/orgy sequence that is the film's highlight, suggesting they are equally imagined -- or real? But there is other music at the orgy: more Muzakish standards ("Strangers in the Night," naturally), and a thoroughly new sound in the mix, a movement from Ligeti's Musica Ricercata for piano. These insistent, pounded notes come to dominate the soundtrack for the rest of the film. Perfectly suspenseful, yet also high modernist, the music can't help but call attention to itself -- which, ordinarily, is a flaw for movie music, but here keeps the audience a crucial distance from Cruise's growing paranoia; the more he's convinced somebody's after him, the more we should realize he's been hunting down himself the whole time.