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Happy Circus Music

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Welcome everybody!
Step right up and join us at the circus
There's a lot to do and see you've never seen before
Everyone is welcome at the circus
Get ready for the show!
—"Welcome to the Circus/Time to Start the Show", LazyTown, "The LazyTown Circus"

Circus music comes in a few recognizable styles. It may be a march played by a brass band, or a cheerful ditty on a calliope, or a sweeping waltz. These styles all used to create a fun and welcome atmosphere at the greatest show(s) on earth. Even music that doesn't exactly fit one of these styles can be used as circus music as long as it keeps that fun, bouncy spirit in some way.

But then, eventually the Monster Clown and Circus of Fear became popular, and that led to Creepy Circus Music — circus music distorted, played in a minor key, or otherwise altered from traditional circus music to make it scary.

Despite that, traditionally happy circus music is still common in fiction. It makes great background music for circus or carnival settings (or an extended slapstick sequence). That's what this trope is for.

Basically, this trope is to Creepy Circus Music what Non-Ironic Clown is to Monster Clown.

Please note that even circus music that's in a major key or has a "traditionally" happy sound still counts as Creepy Circus Music if it's used in a scary context. See Soundtrack Dissonance. To count for this trope, the music has to be used in a genuinely happy and non-threatening context.

May overlap with Circus Synths. Contrast Creepy Circus Music.

See also Standard Snippet, for tunes like "Entry of the Gladiators" (yes, that's the actual name of the song) and "Over the Waves" that are synonymous with circuses.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Boxtrolls has "Cheesebridge Funfair," a short waltz tune on brass and woodwinds.
  • Charlotte's Web:
    • Played for Laughs with "A Fair is a Veritable Smorgasbord". The music itself has an elegant carnival waltz tune, but the lyrics are very inelegant. In the song, the Goose convinces Templeton the rat to go to the fair so he can chow down on all the food left behind when the fair closes. "Where a rat can glut, glut, glut," is not how most people would happily describe a carnival.
    • Later in the movie, the song plays again, this time in a fast-paced madcap style as Templeton raids the fair for leftover food during closing hours, then turns slow and intoxicated towards the end as Templeton gets fat from eating and enters a state of bliss.
  • Dumbo has a scene where the circus marches into town, advertising their arrival with a parade and cheerful music.
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted features the main gang of zoo animals joining a travelling circus, thus, predictably, has some cheerful circus music — most notably "Afro Circus", sung by Marty the zebra to the tune of "Entry of the Gladiators".
  • Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase has the End Credits music being this.
  • The English dub of Wabuu the Cheeky Raccoon by Dingo Pictures, reviewed by Phelous here, has a circus organ tune looping throughout the entire film, save for the intro and outtro, even while other situational music pieces are playing. In one scene, the loop plays on top of itself. The tune appears in a few other Dingo films such as Animal Soccer World, albeit not looped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In A Day in the Life of a Two Dollar Bill, the toy store scene, alongside the array of dolls, features a circus march titled "Entry of the Artists" by Gerhard Narholz under the alias Otto Sieben.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: "Me Ol' Bam-Boo" easily qualifies, given it's sung by a group of carnival dancers with a fittingly bouncy and energetic circus-y score.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Elementary episode "Crowned Clown, Downtown Brown", investigating the death of a man dressed as a clown, Watson comes home to find a Calliope cheerfully blasting away inside the brownstone. Understandably, she questions Sherlock on this, who shouts back over the racket that "It's helping to put me in the mindset of someone who'd want to kill a clown!"
  • In The Good Place, Eleanor's house is decorated with clown posters, because real Eleanor likes clowns and Eleanor doesn't dare take them down because of The Masquerade. The coup de grace is the bedroom doors, which slide together to the sound of circus music ending in a cheer, revealing an extra-huge clown painted on them. Played for Laughs in that Chidi isn't so pleased by the whole thing.
    Chidi: Well, that's terrifying.
  • The series I Love Toy Trains, which showcases toy trains and real trains, would sometimes show off model carnival sets. These scenes would have happy carnival music playing in the background.
  • LazyTown: In "The LazyTown Circus", Robbie and the other LazyTown residents sing "Welcome to the Circus" (also called "Time to Start the Show"), which is all about the fun things at the circus they're holding. Robbie is disguised as the ringmaster and is plotting to use the circus for an evil purpose (getting rid of Sportacus), but doesn't indicate this in the song, instead getting quite invested in his ringmaster performance. The others genuinely want to put on a good show.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: A strange example. The show's theme song is "The Liberty Bell," an upbeat brass band march tune by John Philip Sousa. The Pythons mainly chose it because it was in the public domain, but it does fit the "Circus" in the title (which was chosen by BBC executives), along with the wacky and surreal nature of the show.
  • Only Murders in the Building: In "Flipping the Pieces," a cheerful, nostalgic circus waltz tune is heard as Theo plays a claw crane game at Coney Island.

  • Derek and Brandon Fiechter's "Circus Performers" is a slow but upbeat waltz on organ meant to accompany a circus scene. This is perhaps the only circus song (out of several) they've composed that isn't Creepy Circus Music.
  • Of course, no list of happy circus music is complete without the original and best-known — Julius Fucik's "Entry of the Gladiators". Yes, that's the song's name. Interestingly, it seems that the use of this piece to represent clowns was originally meant in itself as a joke, but the loss of context means that "Entry of the Gladiators" is now considered the Standard Snippet for circus music, having lost its original meaning. Nowadays one can only wonder why Mr. Fucik thought that such an upbeat and whimsical song should take its name from a caste of badass warriors trained to bloodily maim each other.
  • The other iconic circus song is "Sabre Dance". What is it with these goofy songs getting such badass names?!
  • Juventino Rosas' "Sobre las Olas" ("Over the Waves") is a cheerful waltz that is often covered by calliopes and circus orchestras. It has also been made into the English song "The Loveliest Night of the Year".
  • Marc Andre Hamelin's "Circus Galop" is an incredibly fast and energetic circus theme written for player piano however, it is evident that things get out of hand soon, veers into Creepy Circus Music and all ends in a fatal accident.
  • Marc Jungermann's "The Carousel", described as "Happy Carnival/Funfair Music" is a simple calliope waltz tune, with ambient carnival sounds as well.
  • Kevin MacLeod has written a few songs in this style:
    • "Circus Tent" is an energetic, bouncy circus theme on brass.
    • "Super Circus" is a lighthearted circus march.
    • Downplayed with "Circus Waltz". While the tune is quite circus-like, it's simply played on piano, and MacLeod describes it as a "general-purpose upbeat piece."
  • The B-section of Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" interpolates the first two bars of "Entry of the Gladiators".
  • Russya has "Зачароване Коло" which definitely evokes this sound.

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    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


The Magic Roundabout opening

It's a show about an enchanted carousel, so it's only fitting that the opening theme is upbeat carnival music.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HappyCircusMusic

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