Category Archives: Soundtracks

Soundtrack Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

The soundtrack for Universal Pictures’ remake of The Invisible Man is now available digitally and will be available on LP starting March 4th, 2020. Starring Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), The Invisible Man is a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic Monster character.

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding. But when Cecilia’s abusive ex, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

The film’s score was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner 2049, IT). He has worked on over 75 feature films and has received Golden Globe®, BAFTA®, two-time GRAMMY® and Emmy® nominations. It was recently announced that Wallfisch will score the New Line/Warner Bros reboot of Mortal Kombat, which is slated for a 2021 release.

Regarding the film’s score, Wallfisch had the following to say:

It was about using silence rhythmically. When there is music, the gestures and sonic attitude are sometimes so left-field and extreme that you almost don’t trust the score’s absence when it’s not there. As a kind of analogue to the presence of Adrian Griffin [the Invisible Man] in the film.

Also, the orchestral instrumentation is deliberately constrained to strings- only so that the musicians were pushed to their max, without the support of a full orchestra. That choice was also an homage to one of my heroes, Bernard Herrmann and one of his masterpieces, the Psycho score.

As the film progresses, Cecilia (Moss) devolves into questioning her every move, then grows into her power. The composer reflected that journey musically as well:

Cecilia’s Theme,’ a simple melody for cello and strings, was written to be a musical reminder of her own sanity, as everything unravels around her,” Wallfisch said. “You only hear it a handful of times in the movie, at key turning points in the story. There is also a piano motif that recurs a few times, something building and insistent, meant to portray the way she still manages to hold on to who she really is, against all the odds, ultimately triumphing.”

Because Wallfisch was tasked with creating musical space for an antagonist who is literally not present, the composer had to factor into his choices for Adrian/the Invisible Man some elements that he’d not previously considered for a villain:

Rather than a melodic theme, we needed a signature sound for Adrian—something that just creeps up on you. The sonic for the Invisible Man himself is entirely electronic, and when it goes full tilt, we tried to push things as hard as they could possibly go.

Knowing that the Invisible Man is characterized by electronic sounds makes listening to the soundtrack very interesting indeed, as his motif truly does creep up on you, appearing when you least expect it. There’s a jarring contrast between the strings of the orchestra and the electronic tones as well, which could be symbolizing how unnatural Griffin’s invisible existence really is (after all humans weren’t meant to be invisible). Also, I can definitely sense the homage to Herrmann with the all-strings orchestra. These days it’s somewhat unusual to get a film orchestra that’s all strings, as it creates a musical dynamic that you don’t hear all that often anymore.

Wallfisch really appears to be ratcheting up the tension with this soundtrack as well, as each track is just full of it. Even the tracks that don’t contain references to the Invisible Man are full of subtle tensions (which you would expect in a horror film), as if the next encounter could happen at any moment. It was enjoyable to listen to, but also more than a little nerve wracking since after a while you come to expect that at some point the Invisible Man sonic will jump in and surprise you.

All in all, the soundtrack for The Invisible Man was quite enjoyable, just from listening to it I’m half tempted to check out the film itself once it arrives in theaters.

TRACK LIST
  1. Cobolt
  2. Escape
  3. He’s Gone
  4. This Is What He Does
  5. We’ve Got That In Common
  6. Make It Rain
  7. Attack
  8. Why Me
  9. The Suit
  10. Asylum
  11. He’s Behind You
  12. House Fight
  13. It’s All a Lie
  14. Surprise
  15. Denouement

Check out the soundtrack for The Invisible Man when you get the chance. And let me know what you think of it (and the film) in the comments below, and have a great night!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Wendy (2020)

It’s been announced by Milan Records that the original motion picture soundtrack for Wendy will be released on February 28, 2020. It will be released the same day the film comes out, and you can view the trailer for Wendy below:

 

The album features music co-written by Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin. The album is the latest in a series of scoring collaborations for the duo that includes both Zeitlin’s own critically-acclaimed, breakout film Beasts of the Southern Wild as well as additional titles Brimstone & Glory and Mediterranea.

Of the soundtrack, Wendy director and co-composer BENH ZEITLIN has this to say:

We set out to create a score the charges straight at you, with all the energy and reckless abandon of a toddler on a rampage. The themes are meant to feel timeless and cathartic, iconic yet dizzying.  We wanted to take the ragtag back yard orchestra concept from Beasts of the Southern Wild and explode it to new heights.

A single from the new soundtrack, “The Story of Wendy” has been made available already. You can listen to it below:

 

“The Story of Wendy” is a beautiful piece of music. It starts off with some whimsical strings but quickly grows in power, adding in brass and the rest of the orchestra. If this piece is representative of the soundtrack as a whole, then Romer and Zeitlin have indeed taken the story of Peter Pan and Wendy in a completely different direction than anything we’ve seen before (and that’s really not a bad thing). I’m excited to hear what the rest of the soundtrack is like just based on this single track. Romer and Zeitlin really have gone for a timeless feel here as they said, and that’s the type of feeling you want in any story dealing with Peter Pan and not growing up.

Enjoy this sneak peek at the Wendy soundtrack and be sure to check it out when it becomes available on February 28, 2020.

WENDY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –
1. Sneak Away
2. Straight On ’till Morning
3. The Haunted Train
4. Into The Night
5. Neverbirds
6. The Mother
7. Never Grow Up
8. The Old Hand
9. Where Lost Boys Go
10. Want To Fly?
11. To Grow Up is a Great Adventure
12. Battle for Mañana
13. I Love My Mother
14. Counting the Days
15. The Story of Wendy
16. Once There Was a Mother

Let me know what you think about “The Story of Wendy” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

To the immense joy of Star Wars fans everywhere, episode 1 of season 7 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars finally premiered on Disney+. Not only does this new season reunite the original voice cast, it also sees the return of composer Kevin Kiner to the 12 episode season. Honored with multiple Emmy and Annie nominations, as well as 12 BMI awards, Kevin Kiner is one of the most versatile and sought-after composers in Hollywood. In creating intimate soloistic guitar music over the grim realities of the Juarez Cartel, to grand orchestral music for a galaxy far, far away, Kevin’s wide musical range has allowed him to take on such diverse projects as Netflix’s hit series Narcos: Mexico, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Showtime’s City on a Hill, AMC’s Hell on Wheels, CW’s Jane the Virgin, CBS’s CSI: Miami, and Netflix’s Making a Murderer.

The first piece of music released from the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the “Bad Batch Theme”, the main musical theme heard in the first episode. You can listen to this theme below

This theme shares all the hallmarks of a good Star Wars theme as established by John Williams: a rich, brass sound bound together with a strong melodic framework. It could be coincidence, but portions of the “Bad Batch Theme” put me in mind of John Williams’ “March of the Resistance” (one of the best motifs that came out of the sequel trilogy). There’s a certain thematic similarity that sticks in my mind every time I heard that theme. It would be interesting to know if Kevin Kiner had that motif in mind at all when he put the “Bad Batch Theme” together.

Aside from the release of the “Bad Batch Theme” there are three further soundtrack releases scheduled featuring music from the new season. Those release dates are as follows:

3/13: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 1-4)
4/10: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 5-8)
5/4: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 9-12)

“The Bad Batch” is only the first episode in a 12 episode season that will conclude The Clone Wars in the manner they’ve always deserved:

Now it is the end of the historic Clone Wars, as the forces of darkness have amassed great power in their bid to transform the Republic into the Galactic Empire. In the conflict’s final days, clone troopers specialize for the dangerous missions ahead, Ahsoka Tano confronts life outside of the Jedi Order, and a familiar menace returns to wreak havoc. The explosive final chapters of the Clone Wars chronicle the end of a major era in Star Wars history. 

Let me know what you think about the “Bad Batch Theme” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

WaterTower Music has announced that the soundtrack for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is finally available for purchase. The soundtrack features 27 tracks composed for the motion picture by Daniel Pemberton. He is a multi Golden Globe, Emmy and Bafta Award-nominated composer who has been regularly cited as one of the most exciting and original new voices working in modern film scoring today. Constantly working with some of the most renowned names in the industry Pemberton has scored projects for the likes of Danny Boyle (Yesterday, Steve Jobs), Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World, The Counsellor), Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game), Darren Aronofsky (One Strange Rock), Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn), Louis Leterrier (Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance) and Guy Ritchie (The Man From UNCLE, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).

Regarding the score, composer Daniel Pemberton had the following to say:

One of the best things about writing this score was the fact I felt Harley Quinn as a character would be into anything – I can see her listening to whatever she wants: opera, metal, hip-hop, EDM, rockabilly, gospel, pop. I always felt she didn’t really care for one thing – she’d absorb them all and not give a f*** if anyone thought it was cool or not. So, I felt I’d do that with the music. In the same way she dresses like no one else, pulling disparate styles together to make something her own, I wanted to do the same with the score. Then couple that with a crew of other great larger-than-life characters and the completely unique take on Gotham that director Cathy Yan has created, a world with a kaleidoscopically colorful palate, you have something very special to inspire you.

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And the soundtrack for Birds of Prey truly is an eclectic collection of musical styles befitting the insane mind of Harley Quinn and the twisted world of Gotham. Anyone who describes this soundtrack as being “not much to listen to” really  hasn’t been paying attention. While it’s true that several of the tracks firmly belong to the pop rock genre, others, and I must cite “The Black Mask Club” by name, are more traditional, with an aura of menace generated by the strings.

I’m also a really big fan of the fast-paced electronic music that characterizes the early parts of the films (particularly Harley getting really drunk at the club). It really gets you into Harley’s state of mind, not just in the moment but as a whole. You have to remember that Harley Quinn is a crazy person at the core, and the electronic music fits that part of her perfectly. It’s frenetic, almost manic, and it symbolizes Harley’s insane mind racing along from one idea to the next with little to no concept of the consequences. “Harley Gogo Agogo” is a great example of this idea.

Of course a lot of the soundtrack is just fun to listen to, like “Battle Commences” and “Fight Together.” Pemberton is really skilled at weaving together music that heightens the action on the screen or making potentially dull moments interesting, it’s one of the reasons I like his work so much. There is always something going on in this soundtrack, and in this case that’s a good thing.

Track List

  • Flying High (Birds of Prey)
  • The Fantabulous Emancipation Explosion
  • Harley Quinn (Danger Danger)
  • Birds of Prey
  • Harley Gogo Agogo
  • The Black Mask Club
  • Stolen Diamond
  • Bad Ass Broad (Whistle MF)
  • Lonely in Gotham
  • Black Canary Echo
  • The Bertinelli Massacre (The Huntress Story)
  • Bump It!
  • Roman Sionis
  • Lockdown
  • Bruce and the Beaver
  • Lotus Flower
  • Femme Fatale
  • Breakout!
  • The Bertinelli Revenge
  • I Want To Kill You Because I Can
  • Zsasz Showdown
  • Work Together
  • Battle Commence
  • Fight Together (Birds Of Prey)
  • Founders Pier
  • Roller Vs Rollers
  • The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

I hope this review has inspired you to check out Daniel Pemberton’s soundtrack for Birds of Prey, which is available for purchase now. I certainly enjoyed listening to it, and it proves once again why Pemberton is one of my all-time favorite film composers.

Let me know what you think about the soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Anne With an “E” (2017-2019)

Original Music from the CBC and Netflix series Anne with an “E” is now available on CD exclusively from Varèse Sarabande Records. The soundtrack to Northwood Entertainment’s series can be ordered on VareseSarabande.com and other retailers. The album includes the theme song “Ahead by a Century” by The Tragically Hip and score from the composing duo of Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner.

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The series, a reimagining of the classic book Anne of Green Gables, is a coming-of-age story about a young orphan who is seeking love, acceptance and her place in the world. Amybeth McNulty stars as Anne, who has endured an abusive childhood in orphanages and the homes of strangers. Set in the late 1890s, Anne is mistakenly sent to live with aging siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert (played by Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson), who reside on Prince Edward Island. Anne, who proves to be uniquely spirited, imaginative and smart, transforms the lives of Marilla, Matthew and everyone else in their small town. While Anne with an “E” honors the foundation of L. M. Montgomery’s novel, the series explores contemporary issues of identity, racism, feminism, friendship, bullying, gender parity, and empowerment through the lens of its fierce, starry-eyed, irrepressible protagonist.

Regarding the soundtrack for Anne with an “E” the composers had the following to say:

Doing a soundtrack felt natural because much like an orchestra, the series Anne with an “E” contains a great many components that are all moving in the same direction to tell beautiful and inspiring stories contained within. There were certain instruments and styles of music that we decided on quite early in the process. The Celtic flavor was a natural choice from the very beginning, and this informed the instrumentation that usually includes fiddle, tin whistle, accordion and mandolin. However, we were encouraged to experiment and expand those parameters wherever it felt right for the story, so that brought in other woodwinds and strings, ambient and percussive textures, solo cello and of course piano.

A period piece though it may be, the stories in Anne with an “E” are universal and timeless. Every detail, including the costumes and sets, the writing, the acting and even the live instruments in our score are incredibly accurate to the time. Yet a contemporary light shines on the issues that these characters would have faced back then, issues that are old as time and still as true and meaningful today. In that sense, much like the Tragically Hip’s main title song “Ahead by a Century”, we have always felt that the whole concept behind the show was exactly that

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With nearly 50 scores to his credit, Emmy nominated composer Amin Bhatia has written music for film, TV and album projects for over 30 years. Versatile in both orchestral and electronic music, Amin’s television projects in addition to the CBC/Netflix/Northwood series Anne with an “E”, include internationally acclaimed series Flashpoint and X Company, the docudrama series Blood and Fury: America’s Civil War, as well as guest compositions on The Handmaid’s Tale. Ari Posner is a fixture in Canadian film and television, in addition to scoring Netflix/CBC/Northwood’s Anne with an “E”, Posner’s series scoring credits include X Company, Blood and Fury: America’s Civil War, and the critically acclaimed TV series Flashpoint, as well as the feature films All the Wrong Reasons, Borealis, and the romantic comedy My Awkward Sexual Adventure. The music composer’s repertoire spans from long-format work to ads to animated series, and everything in between.

TRACK LISTING
1.    Ahead by a Century Performed by The Tragically Hip
2.    Good Morning Anne
3.    Picking Up A Girl
4.    The White Way of Delight
5.    Tree Perspective
6.    A Big Day Ahead
7.    The Power of A Child
8.    Matthew And Anne
9.    Meet Miss Stacey
10.  A Nature Symphony
11.  Passage of Time
12.  Forgiveness
13.  Never Going Back
14.  My Daughter Anne
15.  You Can Ride to Back
16.  Forbidden to Fraternize
17.  Marilla Waits
18.  Unrequited Love
19.  The Growing Storm
20.  It’s All Broken
21.  Fire in The Town
22.  Dr. Gilbert Blythe
23.  Kindred Spirits
24.  My Friend Cole
25.  Mission of Magnitude
26.  Dearest Diana
27.  Simplest of Gifts
28.  We’re Rich Aren’t We
29.  No Regrets
30.  Make Your Own Decision
31.  Goodnight Anne

Let me know what you think about the soundtrack for Anne With an “E” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Hercules is one of my favorite films from the Disney Renaissance era. By this time (1997), the Renaissance had been in full swing for almost a decade, and everyone involved really had gotten what they needed to do down pat.

Case in point: “Zero to Hero” is a prime example of the perfect Disney song. It picks up immediately after Hercules’ victory over the Hydra and consists of the Muses narrating the young hero’s rise to fame through song, unwittingly defeating all of Hades’ attempts to stop him in the process.

 

Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Person of the week in every Greek opinion poll
What a pro
Herc could stop a show
Point him at a monster and you’re talking S.R.O.
He was a no one
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero
Here was a kid with his act down pat
From zero to hero ― in no time flat
Zero to hero ― just like that

When he smiled
The girls went wild with oohs and aahs
And they slapped his face
On every vase (on every “vahse”)

Zero_to_Hero

From appearance fees and royalties
Our Herc had cash to burn
Now nouveau riche and famous
He could tell you what’s a Grecian urn

Say amen
There he goes again
Sweet and undefeated
And an awesome 10 for 10
Folks lined up
Just to watch him flex
And this perfect package packed a pair of pretty pecs

Hercie, he comes, he sees, he conquers
Honey, the crowds were going bonkers
He showed the moxie brains, and spunk
From zero to hero ― a major hunk
Zero to hero ― and who’da thunk?

maxresdefault

Who put the glad in gladiator?
Hercules!
Whose daring deeds are great theater?
Hercules!
Is he bold?
No one braver
Is he sweet?
Our favorite flavor

Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules

Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Undefeated
Riding high
And the nicest guy
Not conceited

He was a nothin’
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero

He hit the heights at breakneck speed
From zero to hero
Herc is a hero
Now he’s a hero
Yes indeed!

Now one thing you may not know about this song is that a live-action version was shot as reference material. Yes, even after all these years, in the 1990s Disney still used the trick of shooting certain sequences in live-action before animating them. And thanks to the wonderful creation known as YouTube, I can show that footage to you!

 

The sequence is intercut with the live-action muses and storyboards. What’s interesting, if you pay attention, is how the story change from the storyboard phase to the finished product. For instance, in the segment where Hercules takes down a giant serpent, it appears in the storyboard that they had the idea of having a Gorgon (Medusa maybe?) as his opponent. I love getting to see behind-the-scenes moment like this, and I hope you enjoy watching it as well.

It’s a great song, and it really makes it appear that Hercules is well on his way to becoming a true hero. But is he really? Well…this IS a Disney movie, so you know things won’t be quite THAT easy. However, that’s a story for another day.

Let me know what you think about “Zero to Hero” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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John Powell talks Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

At the tail end of Disney’s short-lived attempt to produce a new Star Wars film every single year (a feat that I predicted wouldn’t last long), came Solo: A Star Wars Story, the second (and so far final) anthology film set in the Star Wars universe. As the title implies, the film gives us the backstory of Han Solo and gives us an idea of how he met up with Chewbacca, acquired the Millennium Falcon, and so on.

 

Given that Solo came on the heels of The Last Jedi, it surprised few people when this film didn’t do so well at the box office. Which is a shame, given that Solo has a particularly good score. John Powell did the honors, while John Williams helped by putting together the film’s main theme.

I’ll agree that Solo isn’t the best entry in the Star Wars universe as a whole, but that doesn’t mean its fabulous score should be neglected. John Powell really did the score justice, and proved that it is possible to have a good Star Wars score that wasn’t composed by John Williams (something we’ll have to get used to now that he’s retired from composing for Star Wars films).

To gain some insight into how the score for Solo: A Star Wars Story was put together, please enjoy this full-length interview that was conducted with John Powell last year. I found the interview to be full of great insights and i hope you enjoy it.

Let me know what you think of the interview in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

John Powell talks How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

My Thoughts on: Solo: A Star Wars Story (with spoilers!) (2018)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂