Tag Archives: soundtrack

Peter Pan “Following the Leader” (1953)

*note, this song refers to Native Americans as Indians and “Injuns” which is politically incorrect now, but was considered okay then.

Now that Wendy and her brothers have safely arrived in Neverland and met the Lost Boys, it’s time to set off on the adventures Peter promised them. While Peter takes Wendy to meet the mermaids, John and Michael and the Lost Boys set off to locate the Indian tribe (with John assuming the role of leader). As the Lost Boys march off, they sing a song about “following the leader.”

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Peter Pan “Following the Leader” (1953)

Following the leader, the leader, the leader
We’re following the leader
Wherever he may go

Tee dum, tee dee, a teedle ee do tee day
Tee dum, tee dee it’s part of the game we play
Tee dum, tee dee, the words are easy to say
Just a teedle ee dum a teedle ee do tee day

Tee dum, tee dee, a teedle ee do tee dum
We’re one for all, and all of us out for fun
We march in line and follow the other one
With a teedle ee do a teedle ee do tee dum

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Following the leader, the leader, the leader
We’re following the leader
Wherever he may go
We’re out to fight the Injuns, the Injuns, the Injuns
We’re out to fight the Injuns
Because he told us so

Tee dum, tee dee a teedle ee do tee day
We march along and these are the words we say:
Tee dum, tee dee, a teedle de dum dee-day
Oh, a teedle ee dum a teedle ee do tee day

Oh, a teedle ee dum a teedle ee-do-tee-day

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The boys traveling through Neverland is like any adventure you ever dreamed of having as a child. They cross rivers, swing down vines and unwittingly pass by several animals (a hippo, monkeys, a rhinoceros and even a large bear). Neverland is full of all kinds of terrain, from the jungle, to the savannah and ending in a forest filled with pine trees.

The song comes to an abrupt end when John discovers a pair of “Indian tracks” in the middle of a clearing. Looking back, it seems obvious that this was a trap for the Lost Boys from the start because how else could their be two footprints side-by-side? If someone is walking normally, one footprint should be in front of the other. But instead they’re next to each other like someone was just standing still. Clearly this is meant to be a trap to delay the Lost Boys until the tribe can close in and capture them (which they do).

I’ve always liked “Following the Leader,” it’s a fun interlude before the drama with Captain Hook and Tiger Lily. What do you think of this song? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Peter Pan “What Made the Red Man red?” (1953)

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

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First Man “The Landing” (2018)

Ever since I finished watching First Man in the IMAX theater, one piece of music will not leave my mind: the music for “The Landing.” While a more thorough soundtrack review is likely coming in the near future, I’d like to highlight this piece in its own article because it is that good.

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“The Landing” comes at what I feel is the true climax of the film; this is the moment we’ve been waiting for since the film started, watching Neil (Ryan Gosling) and Buzz (Corey Stoll) land on the moon. From the moment the LM (Lunar Module) detaches to head down to the surface, a melodic ostinato begins to play (an ostinato is a relatively brief melody that repeats over and over again). Remember in my review of the film how I said parts of First Man reminded me of Interstellar? This scene is one such example, as I saw a definite similarity to the docking scene in “No Time For Caution.” Both scenes have music with a repeating melody that also serves to ramp up the tension as the scene moves forward. In First Man, even though it’s the same notes, Justin Hurwitz subtly alters the theme by making it louder; emphasizing certain notes; interweaving horns and inserting an overlaying melody that comes and goes; with the effect that as the LM comes closer and closer to the surface, you are subconsciously inching to the edge of your seat, driven on by the music you’re hearing.

First Man “The Landing” (2018)

With the landing scene itself, I really like how, in the latter part, the camera flips back and forth between Neil, the surface and the gauge marking how much fuel is left. Working with the music, all of those elements together make for a riveting scene that is one of the best in the film.

What did you think of the landing scene in First Man? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Peppermint (2018)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Peppermint is a 2018 American vigilante action film directed by Pierre Morel and stars Jennifer Garner who plays Riley North, a woman who sets out on a path of revenge after her family is gunned down in a drive-by shooting. The score for Peppermint was composed by Simon Franglen.

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Simon Franglen is a Grammy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated composer and producer. He received a Grammy Award for Record of the Year as producer of “My Heart Will Go On” from James Cameron’s “Titanic,” and received Golden Globe, Grammy Award and World Soundtrack Award nominations for his work on Cameron’s “Avatar.” His recent work includes composing music for two films with Terrence Malick, including his stunning “Voyage of Time,” multiple projects with Jean-Jacques Annaud and Antoine Fuqua, including “The Magnificent Seven” and working with Pink Floyd, producing 3D mixes for “Their Mortal Remains” which was recently experienced by 400,000 people in London.

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The first thing that comes to mind when I listen to the soundtrack for Peppermint is…emotion. Raw, visceral emotion bleeds out of this score and it’s not surprising given what the plot is about. Franglen has dutifully assembled a collection of strings and electronic instruments to create a score filled with tension, angst and a heavy dose of brooding (brought to glorious fruition by the cello section of the orchestra).

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One track that stands out in particular is ‘Drive By Shooting.’ Just from the title you can guess that this will have some particularly dark musical moments, but I’m impressed with how Franglen brought the tension out in this piece. In the first sixty seconds, you are literally put on edge by a screeching, grinding sound which is then replaced by a misleading cello melody. I say misleading because I feel it’s designed to put the audience at ease before the shooting happens, to make the event more shocking.

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Another track I want to highlight is ‘Justice for the Judge.’ This piece is brought to life with synthesizers and strings which climax in a moment of pure angst before abruptly (and tellingly) cutting off.

These strings are what help to make the score of Peppermint special, in my opinion. With only the synthesizer portion of the soundtrack, you have a generic score that’s been heard in hundreds of action films over the last several decades (going back at least to the 1980s when synthesized music became a serious ‘thing’ in the film industry). But Franglen doesn’t stick to just synthesizers, no, he mixes them in with strings both high and low (there is also a piano and possibly some woodwinds mixed in but I’ve yet to hear any brass in the soundtrack). It’s an effective combination to be sure; I’m not against wholly electronic film scores but there is something to be said for old-fashioned instruments being included.

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There are also moments where the score takes a moment to breathe and moves in a sentimental direction. The clearest case in point is the track ‘You Have to Wake up Now.’ Unlike many of the pieces in this soundtrack, this one doesn’t start with a bass line laid down by the synthesizer (though it does appear about halfway through). Instead, the audience is treated to a soft piano melody mixed in with the strings. Given the rawness of most of the score prior to this moment, it’s refreshing to hear something so light, even if the moment is brief (about sixty seconds in length).

I know Peppermint has received mixed reviews, but I urge you to give the soundtrack a chance, there are some truly good moments in it. If it has one weakness it’s that it does rely a little too much on the synthesizer, but as I said, this is compensated for somewhat by the presence of the strings and the piano.

Let me know what you think of the soundtrack to Peppermint (or the film itself) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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

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

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: The Predator (2018)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

The Predator (2018) is the latest entry in the Predator franchise, serving as a direct sequel to Predator 2 (the film ignores Predators (2010)). The score for this film was composed by Henry Jackman, who has established himself as one of today’s top composers by fusing his classical training and his experience as a successful record producer and creator of electronic music. His work includes Captain PhillipsX-Men: First Class and Captain America: Winter Soldier; Kingsman: The Golden Circle; Wreck-It-Ralph, and Oscar-winner Big Hero 6. His most recent work can be heard in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Captain America: Civil War, and Kong; Skull Island.

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Given that this is a Predator film, some of the musical elements are predictable. There is a notable martial quality to a lot of the music, exemplified by heavy brass and fast, driving rhythms (not quite to the level that Hans Zimmer has been known to employ, but similar) during the action sequences. However next to this is a level of delicacy that you would not expect to find. Jackman makes a healthy use of the strings and woodwinds throughout the score and it provides for some refreshing musical ‘breathers’ in between the bombastic moments.

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Two examples include ‘Arrival’ (the opening cue) and ‘Rory’ (the theme for McKenna’s son). I remember it surprised me greatly, sitting in the theater, when the film started with the sound of strings (I was expecting a musical ‘bang’ right from the start). To be sure, the music quickly moves into more energetic territory, but I do feel that it says something that the score started with a quieter melody (somewhat fitting as the film opens with a view of space). And ‘Rory’ might just be the cue I like best out of the entire soundtrack. Beginning with the piano and moving into strings and woodwinds, ‘Rory’ is a perfect theme for McKenna’s autistic son. It begins hesitantly (as Rory as just been tormented by some bullies) but then grows with confidence as the young kid demonstrates his abilities by resetting multiple chess boards.

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Two more cues that I’d like to highlight briefly are ‘Project Stargazer’ and ‘Beautiful Specimen.’ Both cues take place when Dr. Bracket  (Olivia Munn) is taken to see the captured Predator and contain that martial quality I referred to earlier. My favorite moment from these two comes in ‘Project Stargazer’; the music notably peaks at the moment when Bracket views the captured alien for the first time (a nice example of how the music can reflect plot developments).

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Listening to the soundtrack apart from the film has reaffirmed one thing for me: Henry Jackman’s score makes The Predator a better film than it would have been without it. Of course good music can only take a film so far, but Jackman certain put in a very good effort.

What do you think of the score for The Predator? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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

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

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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

Soundtrack Review: Hotel Artemis (2018)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Released on June 8th, 2018, Hotel Artemis is a near-future dystopian film that takes place in a secret hospital for criminals (the titular hotel). The hotel is run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster) and Everest (Dave Bautista), an orderly. Services offered include 3D-printed organs and top of the line care, provided you follow the rules of the establishment. This status quo is upended one night during a riot when a notorious kingpin (Jeff Goldblum) is rushed to the hotel with serious injuries.

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The score for Hotel Artemis was composed by Cliff Martinez, whose approach to scoring is nontraditional.  His scores tend towards being stark and sparse, utilizing a modern tonal palette to paint the backdrop for films that are often dark, psychological stories like Pump Up the Volume (1990), The Limey (2009) Wonderland (2003), Wicker Park (2004), and Drive (2011).  Martinez has been nominated for a Grammy Award (Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic), a Cesar Award (Xavier Giannoli’s A L’origine), and a Broadcast Film Critics Award (Drive).  His score for The Neon Demon was awarded Best Soundtrack at the 2016 Cannes International Film Festival.

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Not only is the soundtrack of Hotel Artemis sparse, it also suffers greatly from being overly homogeneous. I thought I was imagining it at first, but as I listened to track after track, I realized that most of the music sounded exactly the same: deep synthesized bass tones mixed in with a synthesized drone. There are minor variations to be sure, but the elements are the same throughout. No wonder this score hasn’t stuck in my mind, there was nothing memorable about it.

Synthesizers can be great for film scores when they’re utilized properly (Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 are excellent cases in point), but that is not the case here. The drones don’t lead anywhere, there’s no musical development. This can make a potentially great film average and in this case, it makes an average film mediocre.

In conclusion: the score of Hotel Artemis is mostly forgettable, just like the film, which is a real shame. I do my best to find the positives in any score I listen to, but I just couldn’t find them here. What did you think of the score for Hotel Artemis? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

See also:

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

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

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

Like many animated Disney films, there comes a point in Moana when it seems like all hope is lost. The first encounter with Te Ka ended in near catastrophe; the boat is badly damaged; worst of all, Maui has abandoned Moana and the quest to restore the Heart of Te Fiti entirely. However unlike earlier films, where the hero/heroine simply steels themselves and keeps on going, Moana has a heart to heart with the spirit of her grandmother and admits that she can’t do this, the ocean needs to choose someone else. And her grandmother agrees! The Heart is given back to the ocean and Moana is told that she can leave for home whenever she wants. This moment is huge because how often do you see a Disney heroine saying “I can’t do it” in this way? Oh granted other Disney heroines have had their down moments, but none of them have so thoroughly set up the idea that the quest won’t be completed like this one has.

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But of course, since this IS Disney, Moana hesitates to return home, though she doesn’t understand why. Wanting to help her granddaughter, Grandma Tala has a song to help her discover, at long last, who she really is:

I know a girl from an island
She stands apart from the crowd
She loves the sea and her people
She makes her whole family proud

Sometimes, the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on Earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you

And when that voice starts to whisper,
“Moana, you’ve come so far”
“Moana, listen”
“Do you know who you are?”

This is it, the pivotal moment for our heroine: Moana must reach down inside herself and discover who she really is.

Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island
I’m the girl who loves the sea
It calls me

I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world
They call me

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As Moana acknowledges her lineage and her continuing connection to the ocean, suddenly on the horizon she sees dozens of ships approaching. It’s her ancestors who used to sail the oceans, including the one we saw in “We Know the Way.” They acknowledge each other and Moana finally understands that she is a wayfinder like her ancestors before her, this is who she is and always has been!

I’ve delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me

And the call isn’t out there at all
It’s inside me
It’s like the tide
Always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart
You remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!

Now completely encouraged, Moana dives after the Heart of Te Fiti, repairs her boat and heads back to the island to face off with Te Ka one more time.

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I love “I am Moana” it literally makes me cry every time I listen to it. Discovering your identity is such an important moment and it’s stirring to hear Moana fully embrace who she is. In this song are echoes of two earlier pieces: “Where You Are” and “How Far I’ll Go.” It’s great to hear portions of earlier melodies come together into something new. But please let me know what you think about “I am Moana” in the comments below and have a great day!

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See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Moana “We Know the Way” (2016)

Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

Moana “Shiny” (2016)

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

The Aristocats “Scales and Arpeggios” (1970)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

While Edgar is plotting how to get rid of Madame’s cats so he can be the sole inheritor of her fortune, Duchess (Eva Gabor) is making sure her three children; Marie (Liz English), Toulouse (Gary Dubin) and Berlioz (Dean Clark) focus on their lessons. Specifically, Toulouse works on his painting while Marie and Berlioz study the piano and singing (Marie sings, Berlioz plays). Duchess is determined to see her children grow up into refined aristocats and is horrified at the idea of them behaving like common alley-cats (Toulouse idolizes them).

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The Aristocats “Scales and Arpeggios” (1970)

“Scales and Arpeggios” is a simple song that genuinely sounds like something a music student would be asked to perform. It begins with solfege syllables (do re mi fa so la ti) and evolves into a lesson on why students should focus on scales and arpeggios, some of the basic building blocks of music:

Do mi so do do so mi do
Every truly cultured music student knows
You must learn your scales and your arpeggios
Bring the music ringing from your chest
And not your nose
While you sing your scales and your arpeggios

If you’re faithful to your daily practicing
You will find your progress is encouraging
Do mi so mi do me so mi fa la so it goes
When you do your scales and your arpeggios

Do mi so do do so mi do (Repeat)
Though at first it seems as though it doesn’t show
Like a tree ability will bloom and grow

If you’re smart you’ll learn by heart what every artist knows:

You must sing your scales and your arpeggios!!

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During the song, Toulouse decides to get in on the act (having finished with his painting) and jumps down to the piano much to Berlioz’s annoyance (since his brother’s paws are still covered in paint). While Marie and Duchess sing a duet, the brothers quickly begin a musical ‘argument’ that ends with each insistently pounding out their own melody on the piano.

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I freely admit, as a kid I loved to sing along with this particular song (I fancied myself to be just like Marie) and I enjoyed trying to hit the high notes at the very end. It’s a short and sweet song that shows Duchess and her children in their element as cultured felines, and is also the last normal activity they experience before Edgar arrives with their specially prepared supper (which has been thoroughly laced with sleeping pills. I’m still not sure if Edgar planned to overdose them so they never woke up or just wanted them to sleep long enough that they could be dumped in the middle of nowhere).

Do you like “Scales and Arpeggios”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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

The Aristocats “The Aristocats” (1970)

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 🙂