On April 23, Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack for Netflix’s sci-fi thriller Stowaway by Academy Award-nominated composer Volker Bertelmann (The Old Guard, Lion, Your Honor). The acclaimed pianist, composer, and experimental musician utilizes piano, strings and orchestra to explore a wide range of sounds that provide a rich backdrop to the mission to Mars thriller. Volker Bertelmann is an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and experimental musician. His score for Garth Davis’s Oscar-nominated film Lion, composed in collaboration with Dustin O’Halloran, was awarded an Australian AACTA Award and received nominations for multiple awards, among others for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award.
The music of Stowaway has a lot of gravity, dark tension, and elevating moments, which Bertlemann created by utlizing earthy synthesizers, a prepared Steinway piano (with only one string tuned), and elements of sound design.
Says Bertelmann of the Stowaway soundtrack:
“Working on Stowaway and collaborating with director Joe Penna was a special experience in many respects: Joe, who is a musician himself, gave me a lot of freedom to explore different sounds and we had a joint understanding of the purposes the music should serve. This facilitated the compositional process, which was extremely helpful given the considerable amount of music the film needed. The music for Stowaway is one of my favorite scores so far.”
Favorite Spot on the Ship
How Much Oxygen
Setting Up the Algae
It’s Literally My Job
Can I Take His Place?
I Was in the Fire
Can You Talk?
What Did You Do?
The Algae Are Dead
Climbing the Tethers
On the Kingfisher
More Than Enough Oxygen
I Will Go
Climbing the Tethers Alone
Into the Solar Storm
You can purchase the Stowaway soundtrack here and it is available now!
Netflix has released the Original Series Soundtrack for Shadow and Bone—based on Leigh Bardugo’s worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels. The mystical and epic original score comes from composer Joseph Trapanese (Tron: Legacy, The Greatest Showman), who took great influence from fairytales, Russian stories, magic, and fantasy. The soundtrack is available digitally today, April 23, alongside the highly anticipated series launch on Netflix. Joseph Trapanese is best known for his sleek score work for blockbuster films like Tron: Legacy, Straight Outta Compton, The Greatest Showman, Oblivion and the Raid series. As a composer, arranger, and producer for movie, television, theater, and video game music, he has collaborated with a number of mainstream musical acts. His first major break came in 2010 when he worked with Daft Punk on the sweeping digital soundtrack to Disney’s Tron reboot/sequel.
Based on Leigh Bardugo’s worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold looming, Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of magical soldiers known as Grisha. But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are dangerous forces at play, including a crew of charismatic criminals, and it will take more than magic to survive.
Joseph was brought onto the project early on by Eric Heisserer (Showrunner, Executive Producer, Writer), Shawn Levy (Executive Producer), and Leigh Bardugo (Author, Executive Producer). He read the novels and scripts for inspiration and by the time the series entered post-production, he had written 40-50 minutes of music to contribute to the score. Joseph developed distinct themes for each character, giving each one their own sonic world in the valiant mystery tale of Shadow and Bone.
“Joseph had a monumental challenge ahead of him when he joined the team,” says Eric Heisserer. “Not only did he need to create a thematic space for each of our six lead characters in this debut season, but he also had to build a different musical language for the major regions of this invented world, most notably the kingdom of Ravka, loosely drawn from 1800s Czarist Russia. And what the rest of us soon learned was: Joseph could build all of that and more. The flourishes and flavors he gave to each piece linger with you long after the episode leaves the screen, and while he’s embraced all that inspired the settings of the show, everything feels bespoke. I cannot separate the show from his score, and I’m in awe of him for it,” concludes Heisser.
Leigh Bardugo adds, “Joseph and I met up for coffee early on, and I knew pretty quickly that we were on the same page. We played Prokofiev favorites for each other and I inflicted some very pitchy renditions of old folk songs on him. I knew his work and how deftly he could transport a listener to a new world, but I had no idea what it would be like to hear him work his magic on Ravka and the Grishaverse. There’s certain music that sparks imagination. Joseph’s extraordinary work on Shadow and Bone not only helped to bring this world fully alive, but also changed the way I experience my characters’ stories. I can’t wait for audiences to share in that experience.”
Regarding the soundtrack for Shadow and Bone, Joseph Trapanese had the following to say:
“Nothing is more thrilling as a composer than to build a musical world to compliment an extraordinary and grand adventure like Shadow and Bone. Eric Heisserer, Shawn Levy, and Leigh Bardugo were incredibly generous with their time and guidance, inviting me to be a part of the series as soon as possible, so I could really get to know these characters and their stories as I wrote their themes. As the team was finishing on set, I was putting the final touches on extended suites and ideas for each character. It was incredibly rewarding to explore and expand these themes throughout the season, and I hope we get to continue exploring each corner of this world for many more episodes. I couldn’t be more excited or proud to share this score with you, and I’m grateful to the entire team at 21 Laps and Netflix for supporting our work through all the challenges of this past year.”
Ask the Saints
Royal Archives Heist
Face the Truth
Erase the Past
Hope for the Future
Her Name is Alina Starkov
Fight for the Light
You can purchase the soundtrack to Shadow and Bone digitally now and also check out the series on Netflix!
This time last year I never would’ve dreamed that I’d be so excited to sit down and watch a movie based on the Mortal Kombat video games. But these are strange times we live in and as it turns out Mortal Kombat was quite an enjoyable experience.
As the name implies, Mortal Kombat is based on the iconic video game series of the same name and sees Earthrealm under threat from Outworld. After losing 9 Mortal Kombat tournaments, if Earthrealm loses once more, they’ll belong to Outworld forever. Quite the high stakes wouldn’t you say? While the film does try to explain the ramifications of everything, I couldn’t help wondering more than once if my understanding of the movie would have been greatly enhanced if I’d played more of the games (my exposure is currently limited to Mortal Kombat X).
That’s not to say that you can’t follow the movie if you haven’t played the games at all. The film does a pretty good job in explaining who is who and why they’re important. It’s just that some of the bigger aspects could have used a bit more exposition, like why Outworld wants to rule Earthrealm so badly. Or why, and this was my biggest issue with the film, a certain character is able to engage Sub-Zero in the fight that dominates the trailers promoting the movie. Don’t get me wrong, that fight (you all know the one I’m talking about) is beautifully shot and is a lot of fun to watch, but I legitimately do not understand how it was able to happen. There’s the loosest explanation given, but it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. Sometimes it’s best to include that extra five minutes of exposition, even if it does risk slowing the plot down a little, and part of me wishes Mortal Kombat had done that.
Aside from those issues, Mortal Kombat really is a lot of fun to watch. My favorite part has to be the sequence that emulates the video game (you can’t miss it), right down to the different combat arenas and fatality sequences. While it is a little cheesy how they would duplicate the game’s performance (one character even proclaims “Flawless Victory”), you can tell it’s all done in good fun. I mean, if you’re going to adapt a video game to film, an homage like this is probably the best way to go. A word of warning though about those fatalities: they really are as gory as you’ve been led to believe. So if that bothers you….you’ve been warned.
Of all the characters in the film, my two favorites are definitely Lewis Tan as Cole Young and Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade (with an honorable mention to Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero). Watching these two get thrown into the world of Mortal Kombat was a lot of fun, and I feel like Tan perfectly played Cole Young as someone who is initially disbelieving but quick to buy in once he realizes his family is at risk. Part of me was disappointed the film didn’t include Kitana (my favorite Mortal Kombat character) but there IS an Easter Egg reference to her if you look closely. I also have to briefly mention Taslim’s performance as Sub-Zero which is one of the best in the film. The only real complaint I have is that I feel like we don’t know enough about him, his motivations and why he is what he is.
The music, which I’ve already reviewed, is just as amazing with the film as it is without it. I stand by my previous thought that in terms of music, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack is one of the best that’s come out this year. Especially during the fights in the latter half of the film, the music sucks you into the drama and adds that extra layer of detail that makes the film fun to watch.
One last note: the film ends with a blatant tease for a sequel and despite the many flaws I would be more than happy to see a sequel happen. There’s so much more they could do with the Mortal Kombat story and I’d like to see the filmmakers given an opportunity to keep the story going. This has the potential to be a really fun popcorn film franchise, so I’ll be waiting eagerly to see if a sequel gets greenlit.
While deeply flawed with some aspects of its storytelling, Mortal Kombat is a really enjoyable experience that does its best to faithfully bring the story of Mortal Kombat to the big screen. There are more than enough Easter Eggs and references to satisfy any fans of the video games and the teased sequel left me begging for more. My final verdict: Go see Mortal Kombat, it’s worth it.
Let me know what you think about Mortal Kombat in the comments below and have a great day!
Back in February of 2021, Lakeshore Records digitally released The Vigil Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – with music by Michael Yezerski (The Tax Collector, Blindspotting). Earlier career highlights for Michael Yezerski include HBO’s Only the Dead See the End of War, his first feature film The Black Balloon (winner of 8 AFI/AACTA Awards including Best Picture), PJ Hogan’s Mental, Wolf Creek Series 2, Catching Milat, Peter Allen, the Academy Award winning animated short, The Lost Thing and his collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Red Tree.
Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, The Vigil is a supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante to take on the responsibility of an overnight “shomer,” fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed’s dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.
Speaking about the philosophy behind the score, Yezerski said:
“As [director] Keith Thomas and I discussed, music is memory. We associate music with the best and the worst times in our lives. For The Vigil we needed to create a score that explored the malevolence of memory (both personal and cultural).” Yezerski went on further to note, “We needed massive textures that could read as both beautiful and brutal. The music attacks but also meditates on long and difficult lives. After all, what is the greater horror at play here – the supernatural or our lived reality?”
Going in, I thought I knew how The Vigil would sound, but to my surprise I was quite wrong. It’s true that like many horror film scores I’ve listened to in recent years, there’s an ongoing feeling of malevolence that pervades the entire score. But it’s how this feeling is delivered that sets The Vigil apart in my mind from recent scores in similar genres.
For example, the score’s use of the human voice (especially chanting) really emphasizes to me the story’s religious background (as it is based in Jewish folklore). That’s not something you hear in a lot of horror film scores so already the story is set apart in my mind. I also really like it because it evokes the feeling that you are around something ancient, as chanting is one of the earliest song forms in existence.
I also really like how the composer creates aural “textures” that literally make your skin crawl when you listen to them. “Lair” is an excellent example of that technique, but it really pervades most of the score if I’m honest. This is fitting as horror films, to the best of my understanding, are designed to make the viewer uncomfortable. It’s only natural that this should extend to the film’s score as well.
One final note, I also like how the music for The Vigil is full of various creaks and groans created by the instruments. It creates a similar sense of age that the chanting does, but it also gives you a sense that you’re in a space that is falling apart or in disrepair (as I understand it the film is set in a dilapidated house). This is most definitely a unique score, one that’s small but contains some powerful musical thoughts. This is yet another example of why you should never dismiss a soundtrack out of hand because it belongs to a horror film.
The Vigil Soundtrack Track List
The Ghost, Pt. 1 (1:58)
The Ghost, Pt. 2 (2:52)
Broken by Memories (5:08)
Video Games (4:12)
Behind You (3:32)
Face to Face (4:12)
Begin the Vigil (3:31)
Let me know what you think of The Vigil and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to speak with film composer Benji Merrison about his work on the film SAS: Red Notice. The film is based on Andy McNab’s novel of the same name and follows a Special Forces operator who comes face-to-face with an army of mercenaries who are intending to blow up the Channel Tunnel.
Benji Merrison is an award-winning composer who went on to obtain a BA (Hons) in Music and an MSc in Music Technology from York University. He also studied Jazz Piano with Howard Riley at Goldsmiths University. His selected credits include SAS: Red Notice, BBC Green Planet, General Magic, Dynasties 2, and Victoria.
I hope you enjoy our conversation about SAS: Red Notice.
How did you get started as a film composer?
Thank you for having me along Becky.
As a child, I grew up with a lot of music around. My Dad had a great vinyl collection and played folk guitar a lot. My mum played piano and so there was an upright in the house. I started getting really into the piano when I was probably five or six. I got a bit obsessed just trying things out to see what sounded good. I spent ages just working out little tunes and things, and then took piano lessons with a local teacher. When I was about eight I got hold of a Roland Juno 6, which blew my mind – I couldn’t believe all the sounds it could make and used to make up imaginary stories in my head as I cluelessly messed around with the knobs and sliders. Funny now, looking back, as it is such a simple synth. I still have it.
Fast forward a few years, and I went on to study classical music, and then a Master’s degree in Music Technology. After working for a few years in motion graphics & audiovisual arts, I started suggesting to clients that I could do the music as well as the motion graphics. So, I started out with small jobs really, which got bigger and bigger over the years.
It’s been a wild ride so far, a very organic process. To be honest, at the start I didn’t even know you could get paid to be a composer, I just muscled to the industry because I thought ‘I can do that, let’s see what happens.’
How did you get brought in to work on SAS: Red Notice?
SAS: Red Notice has been a wonderful project to be a part of, and landing the job was quite a chance thing really. I met the music supervisor at an event in LA and we got chatting about the project and the fact they needed a British composer. Of course, I put on my most over-the-top British accent at this point! She put me in touch with the producer, Laurence Malkin. Larry rang me up and said, ‘can you be in Amsterdam tomorrow for a screening?’ Slightly flustered, the ‘yes man’ in me kicked in and I was indeed there the next day (this was pre-Covid of course). I think my enthusiasm must have impressed him because after some composition tests to picture, I got the job!
Where did you start with putting the themes together? How did you decide what this film should sound like?
I’m quite an improvisatory composer, so I often approach themes and writing in general by simply jamming and seeing what feels right. At the start of the scoring process, I had a couple of these improv style sessions with Larry Malkin (producer) and Peter Clarke (music editor). I had a cool Cubase template prepared with loads of interesting instruments all stacked in a session, so I could go from an intimate piano sound to a full orchestra with mad synths and pulses mixed in. I had programmed some midi controllers to do all sorts of things to each instrument, including pitch bending the different layers (some going up, some going down in pitch). In one of these sessions, we were trying to work out what kind of themes would work for the lead character Tom Buckingham, and also what musical device we could use to represent the unfolding of his psychopathic nature. I started off jamming a simple ‘English Country Garden’ style riff, whatever fell under my fingers easily, which became the ‘Tom Buckingham’ theme. I then gradually wigged out more and more with the midi controllers until this massive, intense, swarming orchestral sound hammered out! Larry and Pete were like ‘What was that?!! That sounds like psychopathy right there!’ This developed into cues such as ‘Emergency Response,’ ‘Two Psychopaths,’ and the end of ‘Finding the Player.’ As a matter of fact, quite a bit of the score came from this one improvisation. I find that funny and inspiring.
Did you create themes for specific characters?
Yes, for some. In particular, there are very clear themes, as mentioned for Tom Buckingham and also for The Black Swans. There are also other thematic elements such as the ‘Church of Psycopathy’ theme we first hear in the scenes in reel one with Will Lewis. However, it was very clear from the beginning that these themes should gradually subvert, morph and degrade over the course of the movie. It seemed like the most ideal way to represent psychopathy. In addition, I took ideas of those themes, and, for example, shortened them into an ostinato figure, or played them in retrograde or inverted, that kind of thing. Deconstruction was a big part of the process. This happened both on a thematic level, but also on a sonic and instrumental level. Over the course of the movie, I would take something like a timpani or snare (which very obviously says ‘militaristic’) and I would run them through various effects chains or spectral processing, to become something very new but derived from the same source. I like this kind of idea, but only when it means something to underline the narrative. In this case, it was a logical and proportionate approach. I also think it worked.
What is your overall process for choosing which instruments to include (or exclude) in the overall mix?
I don’t have a consistent process, it will vary for each score. I always do a lot of exploring, trying all sorts of things out to see what feels right to picture and for the character or storyline. I often like to pair one familiar or obvious piece of instrumentation with another which is more surprising or arresting.
This way the viewers feel a sense of familiarity in one sense, and another which has a degree of tension, surprise, or questioning. This can be a very useful musical device, once clearly defined. You can use the relative push and pull of this pairing to play with the viewer’s emotions, and invoke more nuanced compound emotional states.
Were there any musical ideas you tried only to find they weren’t working out?
Oh yes, many.
In fact, for me, it is a huge part of creating a successful score. I think as you gain more experience, you develop the professional maturity to ditch an idea (however good it is or however long it has taken to write) if it isn’t right for the film. I used to feel anguish at this, but now I find it quite fun to destroy a carefully crafted idea. The thing is, sometimes you learn more from the things that ‘aren’t right’ as you do from the things that ‘are right’. It all feeds into the score as part of the process.
I like to float above the feelings around the creation of music, to hear the music objectively, just as the audience will. Things are either right or not right in that sense. The only important thing is the emotional response of the audience to the film, my own feelings are irrelevant.
To aid this I don’t like to spend long in any stint working on cues, or writing themes. I’ve found over the years that the longer I spend on things, there is a point where I lose perspective and start ‘taking away.’ I like to regularly hear my work as if it wasn’t me who wrote it. That way I am more objective and logical about how others will respond to it.
How long did you have to score the film?
The scoring took place around four months over the late summer/autumn of 2019. It was a pretty intense, but hugely satisfying experience. The recording sessions took place in the Hall at AIR studios in winter 2019, just before the pandemic hit.
It’s amazing to think of the intensity of that period, especially given that the release was put back so far due to the events of 2020. I’m grateful it worked out this way, as it meant we got all the recording sessions and mix completed in time before the restrictions came in.
What was the collaboration process like? How much collaboration was there with producer and writer Laurence Malkin on the score?
There was a lot of collaboration. Larry is a very hands-on producer and likes to be involved with all aspects of the film. I really enjoyed that about the process. We got into a great pattern, where he would come over to the studio every weekend and we’d spend the whole day going through two or three reels, chatting through each shot and working out how we could impact and add value to the storyline through the score. I’d then spend the week revising things, and repeat the process. This all created a score that was very tight and precise to the picture.
Whilst that sounds like it could be a bit regimented, it was quite a liberating and structured way to approach the score, which I really enjoyed. I had plenty of time to experiment and free-flow my ideas, but I had that focus point and second opinion so that I didn’t get too bogged down with a particular idea or section.
In this sense, I’d say it was one of the most collaborative scores that I have completed to date.
Do you have a favorite track? Or any detail that you hope audiences notice?
Ha! There are quite a few actually. A firm favourite of mine (and others who have seen the film so far) is ‘3m23 Emergency Response.’ It’s a real action romp type of cue, but also combines a perfect blend of the distorted, fragmented Tom Buckingham theme along with the ‘Psychopathic String’ signature lines. It is basically ‘orchestral heavy metal’ masquerading as a soundtrack cue, which really appeals to me!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about SAS: Red Notice!
Cheers Becky, thanks for having me!
I wanted to say thank you one more time to Benji Merrison for taking the time to speak with me about his work on SAS: Red Notice! I hope you all enjoyed this interview!
WaterTower Music has released the soundtrack to New Line Cinema’s explosive new movie Mortal Kombat, which brings to life the intense action of the blockbuster video game franchise in all its brutal glory, pitting the all-time, fan-favorite champions against one another in the ultimate, no-holds-barred, gory battle that pushes them to their very limits. The Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) contains all new score by Golden Globe-, Emmy-, and Grammy-nominated composer Benjamin Wallfisch (IT and IT Chapter 2, Shazam, Blade Runner: 2049 [w/ Hans Zimmer]). It features 24 tracks by Wallfisch, who interpreted the film’s themes and emphasized the story’s hard-driving, visceral action through his music.
Director Simon McQuoid discussed working with Wallfisch on the score:
“Ben and I both knew that we needed to use the classic Immortals track ‘Techno Syndrome’ as source material for the entire score of Mortal Kombat. But along with that we knew that an updated elevated version of the song also needed to be created. And Ben certainly delivered! I am so excited by this new 2021 version of the track, when I first heard it, it blew my mind. Actually, Ben kind of blew my mind on a daily basis through the making of this film, so we can all thank Benjamin Wallfisch for his genius and passion in creating ‘Techno Syndrome 2021’.
Wallfisch further elaborated:
“When I was invited to come on board ‘Mortal Kombat,’ I was very aware of the responsibility that comes with scoring a franchise so deeply embedded in pop culture and with such a passionate fanbase. My first question was what can we do with ‘Techno Syndrome,’ a piece of music so much part of the DNA of the game and the original movies? What motifs could be reinvented and blown up to a full-scale symphonic sound world in the score, and might there be room for a full reinvention of the whole song as an EDM single in 2021? A huge thank you to The Immortals for giving us their blessing to reimagine their classic track in this way, as a celebration of the world of Mortal Kombat and its fans, and of the uplifting power of Electronic Dance Music, which the original did so much to light the fuse of 30 years ago.”
I have rarely experienced such a turnaround as what I’ve felt regarding Mortal Kombat. Having minimal contact with the video game series (and the one time I made an effort to play not going particularly well), I was initially on the fence and unable to emotionally invest in the idea of the film at all. But then THAT trailer came out, and I was intrigued. Then came the chance to listen to the soundtrack ahead of its release on April 23…
And I think my brain exploded.
I may have the bad habit of using superlatives too often in my reviews, but please believe me when I say Benjamin Wallfisch’s score for Mortal Kombat is one of the best I’ve ever heard. This isn’t just a soundtrack for an action film, this is an entire world realized through sound and melody and I am here for every last minute of it. During the music for the fight scenes (it’s not hard to tell which ones those are) you can feel every punch and every attack with brutal clarity. For the music alone, I am now itching to see these fight scenes in their proper context, because I need to know how this music connects to the action. And it’s such beautiful music, it has what I like to call “height” which is to say it expands and creates the illusion of space as it goes along. You can literally hear the music grow and soar in certain places, which helps to create the idea of a world existing within the music.
However as I said there’s far more to this soundtrack then just action. Wallfisch also demonstrates a keen ability to take the music in the opposite direction, to slow it down and allow the audience to take a collective breath. That’s an important thing for any film: if the soundtrack is just GO GO GO constantly, it can eventually begin to grate on the ear and become quite tiresome. But the music for Mortal Kombat isn’t like that at all (much to my surprise). There’s plenty of action to go around, but also more than enough moments of calm and relative quiet, though it is more often than not the “calm before the storm” type of quiet. There’s an impressive amount of balancing going on between the two extremes of loud and quiet, and I love it all.
Another detail I like about this soundtrack? The track list doesn’t give too much away regarding plot details. In fact, if I’m reading the track list correctly, most of these tracks appear to be themes for specific characters, which is great because I love thematic-based soundtracks (when done properly). Even so, very little is given away in terms of plot, and that’s great. I’ve seen too many soundtracks where you can suss out the plot of a film from the track list names alone, but you can’t do that here.
I could go on and on about the music for Mortal Kombat, but I’ll wrap it up by saying that listening to this soundtrack has rocketed this film to the top of my must see list for 2021 (and six months ago I couldn’t imagine saying that). If you get the chance, you need to check out this soundtrack independently of the film itself, it is that good.
Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)
Kano v Reptile
The Great Protector
Sub-Zero v Cole Young
I Am Scorpion
We Fight as One
Get Over Here
Let me know what you think about Mortal Kombat (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!
If you’ve followed my blog for more than a few years, you might remember that I briefly attempted a series sometime back where I wanted to talk about music in wrestling, particularly during major WWE events like Wrestlemania. As I was deeply engrossed in my dissertation at the time, the series never went anywhere and I ultimately deleted the article I did write. But now that I’m long since done with grad school, and I find my love of wrestling to be alive and well thanks to AEW, I think it’s high time I attempted this series again.
So that’s what this series will be about: in a series of posts I’m going to talk about music in wrestling, its history, notable examples, and why it works to make wrestling shows and events completely awesome.
However I understand that some longtime readers might be confused by this decision, wondering “This is Film Music Central, why would you want to talk about music at a wrestling show? Isn’t that a completely different topic?” It might seem completely unrelated at first glance, but hear me out, because there is a connection, albeit a tenuous one. If you consider the wrestling shows that are held on television, any music produced for those events instantly falls under the genre of television music, and TV music is the younger sibling of film music. So….it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that a film music blog could cover the topic.
“But….” the objection might continue “Why talk about the subject at all?”
Why indeed? I suppose this would be a good time to explain that I’ve been fascinated by the wrestling industry for years, how the shows are made, how the different elements come together, all of it. And being the musicologist that I am, it was only natural that I gravitated to the musical side of the industry. And make no mistake, there is a very musical side to the wrestling business. As I’ll discuss down the road, all of the major promotions employ house composers to put themes together for wrestlers and shows, and it’s a constantly evolving mix of music that has to tell a story every week on television. But more than that, I want to talk about music in wrestling because I feel like it’s not being given enough attention. There’s no comprehensive book on the subject (though I’m hoping to change that someday), and I feel like people need to know the major role that music plays in the wrestling industry.
Also, I feel like writing a series on this subject will help remind people that wrestling shows are far more than just watching people beat each other up. Wrestling is not just a series of fights, it’s a full-on experience, it’s being dropped into this crazy world where larger than life characters step into a ring and do feats that are almost superhuman. And the music is part and parcel with all that.
And yes, I am hoping to write a book on this subject someday. If nothing else, this particular blog series will be my first attempt to suss out my thoughts on the subject in something resembling a professional manner. Maybe it goes somewhere, maybe it doesn’t, but at least I’ll try. I hope you enjoy this series, I’m going to do my best to cover as wide a base of shows and promotions as I can, so if you follow a certain wrestling promotion and want to see me cover a particular theme or organization, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.
I hope this introduction explains why I’m going to be talking about music in wrestling. I’ve been thinking about a series like this for a long time, and I’m excited to finally move forward with it.
Let me know your thoughts about this subject (good or bad) in the comments below and have a great day!
Milan Records has announced the first-ever vinyl release of Demon’s Souls (Original Soundtrack),an album of music from the PlayStation®5 console remake of the classic game title, by composer Shunsuke Kida.
Available on CD now, Kida’s score delivers a bold and brilliant soundtrack befitting of the game’s lore. Out Friday, June 18 and available for preorder now, the album’s vinyl edition arrives as a 2-LP deluxe gatefold set featuring artwork by renowned illustrator, designer and artist Ken Taylor – an inside look at the vinyl edition can be found here. Demon’s Souls is currently available for the PlayStation®5 console from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), PlayStation Studios, and Bluepoint Games.
The vinyl will also be available in various vinyl color variants exclusive to Mondo, Light In The Attic Records, Newbury Comic, Channel 3 Records and Black Screen Records; detailed information surrounding each color variant can be found via individual retailers.
In his quest for power, the 12th King of Boletaria, King Allant channeled the ancient Soul Arts, awakening a demon from the dawn of time itself, The Old One. With the summoning of The Old One, a colorless fog swept across the land, unleashing nightmarish creatures that hungered for human souls. Those whose souls were stripped from them, lost their minds – left only with the desire to attack the sane that remained. Now, Boletaria is cut off from the outside world, and the knights who dare penetrate the deep fog to free the land from its plight are never seen again. As a lone warrior who has braved the baneful fog, you must face the hardest of challenges to earn the title “Slayer of Demons” and send The Old One back to its slumber.
On April 9th, Marvel Music/Hollywood Records released The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 (Episodes 1-3) with music composed by Henry Jackman on digital. Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. The pair, who came together in the final moments of “Avengers: Endgame,” team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience. Directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer, the six-episode series also stars Daniel Brühl as Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.
Though broken up into separate episodes, Jackman’s score for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is quintessential MCU film music (and I’ll call it that despite the streaming format). It has that perfect blend of suspense and action that I’ve come to love in these movies. This music, as with most scores in the MCU, is good at getting you to hold your breath and lean in to hold more, only to knock you back with a sudden burst of sound. The synthetic elements in the music are something of a surprise, but given that this series is set in (pretty much) the present day (time skip notwithstanding), it makes sense that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would need as modern-sounding a soundtrack as possible. This show is meant to be something of a thriller after all, and the music definitely creates that idea.
If this is how good the music is for just the first three episodes, I can’t wait to hear Volume 2, which is due to be released on April 30th.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 Track List
Louisiana Hero (2:14)
Tough Act to Follow (1:16)
Airborne Operation (5:56)
Smithsonian Tribute (0:53)
What Do You Want? (1:22)
Pluck Up the Nerve (1:53)
New Agitators (1:13)
The Wrong Guy (1:38)
America’s Sweetheart (1:05)
No Parachute (1:29)
Safe House (2:41)
Someone You Should Meet (1:09)
Overlooked For Promotion (1:20)
Warranted Attention (1:03)
Fraying Edges (2:04)
Take One For the Team (2:21)
Unnecessary Use of Force (1:48)
Prison Break (4:41)
A Marriage of Convenience (0:32)
A Pure Heart (1:48)
Low Town (1:24)
Attack, Soldier! (1:47)
Breaking Character (2:29)
Bad Science (3:30)
Masked Man (1:20)
Dissent and Disillusionment (1:08)
Star Spangled Man – The Captain America Drum Corps (1:44)
Be sure to check out The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 as soon as you can!
On March 5, Milan Records and Sony Music Masterworks released Pacific Rim: The Black (Music from the Netflix Original Anime Series) by composer Brandon Campbell. Available everywhere now, the album features score music written by Campbell for Netflix’s newest anime series from Legendary Television and based on Legendary and Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster film franchise Pacific Rim. Continuing the tale of epic battles between monsters and robots in an exciting new style, Pacific Rim: The Black made its global debut yesterday and is available now to watch exclusively on Netflix.
Of the soundtrack, composer Brandon Campbell had the following to say:
“Our showrunner, Greg Johnson, wanted a score that encompassed bits of DNA from the original Pacific Rim film while still being unique enough to support the struggles and triumphs of Taylor and Hailey. We created a hybrid orchestral score with the heavy themes and melodic material that will hopefully resonate with Pacific Rim fans, while including more intimate and emotional musical moments that accompany our characters as they make their way across The Black. I hope my music brings you back into the world of the awesome power of the Kaiju and Jaeger, but also into the hearts of Taylor and Hailey.”
I meant to check out this soundtrack a solid month ago and I regret that life got in the way to delay me because the music for Pacific Rim: The Black is good, really good. While I haven’t heard the soundtracks for either Pacific Rim movie (a terrible shortcoming I know), there are moments sprinkled throughout this soundtrack that sound so “big” they can only come from and/or be inspired by the original movie soundtracks. This is great, as thematic continuity between films and a television series is a proven way to help audiences get invested in the new story. Put it like this: if the story sounds like it comes from the same universe, then it becomes easier to accept the story as belonging to that universe, even if none of the regular movie characters show up.
What’s really interesting to me aside from that is the musical connection to other kaiju movies that I swear I can hear. For example, in ‘Kaiju Messiah’, there’s a musical sequence that sounds eerily similar to music I’ve heard in Godzilla (2014), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Godzilla vs Kong (2021) whenever Godzilla is in action. I don’t know if this is deliberate or not, but it would make sense since the story of Pacific Rim is about fighting kaiju (which is what Godzilla is, albeit in a different story).
Another thing I really like about the music for Pacific Rim: The Black is how descriptive it is. Which is to say it paints an evocative picture of how desolate this setting is, and how dangerous. There’s nothing generic about this music, you know that it belongs to science-fiction just by listening to it. It would’ve been so easy for Netflix to commission music that was bare-bones acceptable, but they didn’t do that, they got music that carries its share of the story, and that is so important. You need the music to drive the final nail home of where this story is taking place, what is this world like? The wrong music, as I’ve said many times before, can break a decent story, and by all accounts this is the best music possible for Pacific Rim: The Black.
PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIME SERIES) TRACKLISTING
They Always Come Back
I’ve Had Worse Benders
Never Coming Back
The Most Powerful Man in The Black
Just Calm Down
It’s a shame I didn’t get to this soundtrack a month ago, but better late than never right? I really enjoyed checking out the music for Pacific Rim: The Black, and you should check it out right away if you get the chance, as it is currently available.
Let me know your thoughts on Pacific Rim: The Black (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!