The new biblical epic, Noah, released earlier this year and caused quite a stir of controversy. The film was directed by the eccentric, Darren Aronofsky, and the story seems to follow his particular style. It's quite....unique. Not at all an accurate representation of the Noah we know of in the Bible and is most definitely different in it's style and storytelling. The score had to likewise, follow suite.
I had high hopes for the score upon hearing about the film and was somewhat interested when I heard the composer for the film: Clint Mansell. Apparently, Mansell and Aronofsky had worked together on a previous film, The Fountain, the score of which I hadn't heard. I honestly didn't know what to expect from him.
If you have read my previous biblical epic score reviews then you know what I think constitutes a great biblical epic score. Big, epic, and with memorable themes, full orchestra, and full choir, etc. Needless to say, the score for Noah, did fall under that category by description, but stylistically......?
Mansell has a unique style. It makes sense since the movie itself was eccentric. The music had to flow with the story, and it seems to have worked rather well. However, for that standalone listen I found some of the music to be grating and hard to listen to. Don't get me wrong, some of the cues are pretty decent in which some reviewers are calling the new style of epic known as 'slow epic' (Click here to read that review).
This score could be easily described as sounding, "raw and gritty with a mix of classical (Like I said, unique). Some of the cues utilize bombastic percussion and wailing synth (The Wickedness of Man for example), while other cues have beautiful violin melody's (The Fallen One's for example).
Tarzan, the music can mostly be enjoyed by listening to the score as a whole. No single cue stands out except for one.
The closing cue of the album, Mercy Is, is a haunting performance by singer, Patti Smith and makes for a perfect ending to the album.
Overall, the score is ethereal, haunting, somewhat epic, and definitely unique. It's a lengthy experience since the score is 78 minutes approximately but stands out from it's biblical epic predecessors as something different and worth listening to.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- Not able to decide on one single cue. Each cue is awesome but the experience is best heard with the cues all together.
David Newman has returned in a glorious comeback!
The film Tarzan, boasted of a better remake in 3D and more realistic animation as opposed to Disney's 1999 version. Surprisingly enough, the filmmakers went with veteran composer, David Newman who already has had experience working in children's animated movies (Ice Age, The Brave Little Toaster, and Anastasia for example).
Newman, son of the golden age film composer, Alfred Newman, has a way with touching your heart through the scores listed above and creating a simplistic but heartwarming score. It had been several years since Newman has had any films to score and his return is a welcome one indeed!
The general mass of the score is action cues especially near the end. The main theme a simple but soaring brass statement backed up by warm strings and doesn't reappear in the score much but when it does; it's in all of it's brassy glory. Newman also rely's somewhat, on some synth here and there but doesn't detract much from the quality of the score (Heard in the cue, Kayla and Kerchak, for example).
Choir is also a prevalent factor throughout the score reminiscent of his score Anastasia. The wordless vocals seem to add wonder and beauty to Tarzan's world in a musical sense.
Being a story which takes place in the jungle, Newman also utilizes a mix of percussion with Taiko drums, bongo's, among others thus creating a classic "adventurous jungle atmosphere".
Some of the dramatic material surfaces in the cue, Tarzan Helps Jane, with stirring strings and a tender ethereal piano solo. The melody is quite evocative and gorgeous.
The later half of the score is filled to the brim with action material with brass themes ranging from heroic to bombastic and even to epic stopping once or twice to take a break. One of the cues, Tarzan and Jane at the Lake, is reminiscent of some of the dramatic material from his score for Ice Age. It's got a simple string melody backed by woodwinds and eventually joined by an acoustic guitar.
Overall this score makes for a really solid action score and starting this year off with a bang. Boy, is it good to have David Newman back!
- Not able to decide on one single cue. Each cue is awesome but the experience is best heard with the cues all together. Yeah, it's that good.
Labels: Tarzan (2014)
It's when film's 'rain their terror', that scores 'rain their glorious splendor'. This score is no exceptional.
Pompeii. The ill-fated city of the Romans.
Mount Vesuvius. A live volcano that threatens to erupt any minute.
Lot's of people are aware of this ancient historical event. Pliny the Younger in a letter to Tactucus writes this about the eruption:
"Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.'Let us leave the road while we can still see,'I said,'or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind."
Pompeii, focus's on; Chaos, destruction, action, sword fights, and groundbreaking effects. Yet, amongst all that, the story of, love? Yes of course, a romance. The film has been getting a lot of criticism for be un-original and very cliche story-wise. Apparently, so is the score.
The album, composed by Clinton Shorter, has been described fittingly as 'trailer music'. And trailer music it is. The score is big, brassy, and epic. The main theme appears in all of it's glory, in the opening cue, Pompeii. The theme is a powerful, choral chant.
Most of the music is pure, epic-action music, heavy on the vocals and percussion.
The music takes a drastic change near the end of the album in the cue, I Won't Leave You. The cue starts off with synthetic vocals reminiscent of James Horner's Titanic. It transitions as slow strings play a mellow tune and female vocals take over. The cue is gorgeous and ethereal.
So, does trailer music belong in a movie score? Most critics agree that, 'no, trailer music doesn't belong in a film score' (Click here to read that particular review). I tend to agree however, it depends on the film. I believe that an epic film deserves an epic score. Is Pompeii an 'epic film'? Yes, it is and thus needs an appropriate score to follow suit.
- Away From You
- My Gods
- I Won't Leave You
- Praying For Help
The action material is classic orchestral music with suspenseful strings, muted trumpet, and surreal woodwinds supported by a militaristic snare heard in the cues, Champagne, and Ghent Alterpiece.
Other militaristic cues appear throughout the score like, for example the mysterious and suspenseful cue, Deauville.
A mournful solo piano makes up a good amount of the dramatic material supported with a solo Cello. However, melancholic strings also appear (The Letter). Despite that, the score remains hopelessly optimistic.
Overall, this score is a pleasant surprise reminding us of the golden age of film music when monumental scores were made and still loved to this day. Like those, I'm sure this one will remain a constant favorite through the years. It is nostalgia at it's best!
- Opening Titles
- Basic Training
- End Credits
Labels: The Monuments Men
Before we get into the main award I will try to briefly announce the honorable mentions. While each score ended with the same rating save one, the are listed in no particular order. To be quite frank I couldn't decide which one was better than the other. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, enjoyable cues, and un-enjoyable cues.
Saving Mr Banks by Thomas Newman Rating ****
Copperhead by Laurent Eyquem Rating ***1/2
(You can read my review here.)
Man of Steel by Hans Zimmer Rating ***1/2
Exit Marrakech by Niki Reiser Rating ***1/2
The Ultimate Life by Mark McKenzie Rating ***1/2
And now, here are the ten best scores of the year:
(Individually numbered with one being the greatest.)
Best Scores of 2013
10. The Bible by Hans Zimmer
(You can read my original review here.)
This score didn't get enough credit. Many Balfe, Zimmer, and Lisa Gerrard fans were disappointed in this album because of the lack of originality on their part. True, however the score was easy for me to enjoy. It's epic, eerie, and gorgeous. I won't go any further because I realize that this album has already been discussed this one a prior post.
9. Pacific Rim by Ramin Djawadi
Male choral ostinatos, brass stings, and synthesized loops make up the marrow of this amazing action score. This score has a powerful anthem as the main theme, and although the score utilizes Djawadi's stereotypical guitar riffs, the music soars. The acoustic riffs are also kind of old but despite that, the album stands out as one of the best action scores and 9th best score of the year.
8. The Mortal Instruments: City of Dead Bones by Atli Orvarsson Rating ****
.....And another media ventures composer makes the list! Most of Orvasson's scores have been disappointing recently save, for this soundtrack. The music has the make of a perfect epic score. There are vocals (full choir and solo), emotional violin solos, pounding percussion, and fast heart-pounding orchestral numbers. This was the pleasant surprise of the year!
7. The Lone Ranger by Hans Zimmer
This score came across as a nice surprise to me. The music has wonderful violin solos, classical western themes (with a bit of spaghetti western in the mix), and heart-pounding action material. Zimmer breaks from his overbearing, percussion based scoring and focus's on the beauty contrasting it to the gritty aspect of the film.
6. Iron Man 3 by Bryan Tyler
Tyler had a prolific year. Composing the scores for Thor 2: The Dark World, Assassin's Creed V, Now You See Me, and this amazing album, Iron Man 3. The theme is what makes this score. It's blatantly heroic, fast-paced, and very catchy. If I had an award for "best theme" and "best action score of the year" this soundtrack would win them both.
5. Beyond Two Souls by Lorne Balfe
So, Balfe makes it into the list once again! This video game score as I have stated in a post prior, is absolutely amazing! Instead of focusing on the action material in the game, Balfe creates several beautiful themes and focus's his thematic material mainly on the drama and the main character, Jodie Holmes', emotions.
4. Romeo and Juliet by Abel Korzeniowski
(You can read my original review here.)
This score was love at first listen. Heartrending themes are intertwined by melodramatic action material as Polish composer, Korzenioski weaves together a high quality score. This film was originally meant to be scored by veteran composer James Horner, who had plenty of experience writing romantic music. Horner had apparently written most of the music but, for whatever reason he was dropped and Korzenioski was called upon and given a short time to completely re-write this score. And what a masterpiece he wrote. Initially, I was very disappointed when Horner was dropped, but it didn't last for long (My apologies to Mr. Horner).
This is what a romance flavored score should sound like folks!
3. Frozen by Christophe Beck
(You can read my original review here.)
Yes, once again this score wins another award of the year. Clearly, this score is a spectacle that dazzles the ears! Like I mentioned earlier in a prior post, this music is chilling, gorgeous, and spectacular. Hats off to Mr. Becke.
2. Planes by Mark Mancina
(You can read my original review here.)
"Why?" You may ask. "Why in the world is this album #2?"
For me it is due to taste. I enjoyed this music to death. That was just me. I enjoyed Mancina's contributions to the 1990's and I still enjoy his 90's style today. The theme in this score is big, powerful, and the thematic material, (including a blatant ripoff of one of my favorite scores last year; The Life of Pi,) is plentiful. I didn't dislike the film as the critics did and I most certainly didn't dislike this score as much as critics did!
What can I say? Haters gonna hate......
1. Winnie Mandela by Laurent Eyquem
This score was probably the biggest surprise of the year.
Composed by French newcomer, Laurent Eyquem, the album is mixed with source cues and cues from the score. Appropriately enough, the music has African-American vocals throughout the score material creating a semi-African feel to the album. He also utilizes a solo piano for several cues making the score range from almost epic at times, to minimalistic drama. I enjoyed every minute of this soundtrack, and though it's unfortunately only available for digital download only, it's totally worth it!
It's been a great year for film scores. Be sure to stay tuned as I continue to follow up and coming scores for the year 2014. I'm only two months in and it's beginning to show a lot of promise!
In this post I will announce several miscellaneous awards for the year including best video game score, best TV score, best song, and best animated film score. (In numerical order with number one being the greatest.)
Best Television Score of 2013
There were several amazing TV scores to choose from this year including Africa by Sarah Class and two by the amazing Frederik Wiedmann. However it came down to these two amazing scores:
I came close to choosing another score by Gold, the Christmas Specials from Series 7, but this score from all of Series 7 takes the cake. The music is classic Dr Who with his bond-esq/jazzy theme and iconic action music. It isn't quite as good as the first four scores (Dr Who Series 1-4), but remains up to par with Gold's standards. Honestly, you can't find any other television music this good unless it's.....
(You can read my original review here.)
I can just hear some people steaming over my choice! I understand this score is not Zimmer and Balfes most original score. I understand, that Lisa Gerrard's vocals are nothing different, but I enjoyed this score immensely. I couldn't help it. The music is epic, big, and bold. I was disappointed with the score in that the music wasn't quite as epic as it should be for a biblical epic, but it grew on me, and now I love this score to death. I'm sorry haters, you're simply missing out.
Best Video Game Scores of 2013
There weren't many outstanding video game scores to choose from this year, but the two chosen for this award, are solid.
This score is original. The musical feels like a wintry blast of fresh air. The score is a good balance of action, drama, and song material. Becke avoids mickey mousing for the most part and focuses on the emotional aspect of the film using vocals singing acapella in old Norse. The songs are fun, inspirational, comedic, and also quite original. Here's to hoping that Becke will get to score another big film like this in 2014!
(You can read my original review here.)
Mancina makes a triumphant return with his stellar 90's styled action music, powerful themes, brilliant drama, and his heart-pounding paced racing music. He even utilizes acapella vocals for a side character's theme and it's powerful to the core. The uniqueness of this album lies within Mancina's ability to transition from one genre of music to another so quickly, but smoothly. The score includes a wide variety of music ranging from western to Indian to Americana to Mexican flavored cues. This is probably the best animated score with the largest amount of thematic material that I have heard from in a while!
Top 6 Songs of 2013
6. Monster’s University- Monster’s University performed by Various Cast Members
The score for this Pixar animated film was composed by veteran Randy Newman. Instead of a jazz flavored song that he used in the first Monsters Inc film, he uses a traditional acapella method used by most modern college campuses for their anthem. The lyrics are creative and clever, while the performance remains a bit droll, but fun to listen to regardless.
5. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters- To Feel Alive performed by Lameve
4. Jobs-Scarborough Fair performed by Dylan McDonald & Cassidy Cooper
This song isn't the most original nor was John Debney's score for this film, but it's the harmonies that make this song, amazing. Granted, I have a soft spot for any version of this particular song, but this performance is really stellar by Dylan McDonald and Cassidy Cooper. The song is a tad bit repetitive and the acoustics simple, but it's the simple instrumentation that makes the vocals soar wonderfully.
3. Oblivion-Oblivion performed by M83 and Susanne Sundfør
This is a classic retro 80's styled song, but so beautifully orchestrated that it stands out, especially the powerful chorus. I don't normally enjoy this type of song, but honestly, it grew on me. M83, having scored the entire film finally get to do what they do best, create a song with words, and Susanne Sundfør's haunting vocals is topping on the cake.
2. Winnie Mandela-Bleed For Love performed by Jennifer Hudson
This gospel/R&B styled song is a powerful representation of true love. The lyrics are powerful and bring to mind the Bible verse, "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay his life down for his friends." -John 15:13. The song is inspirational and the instrumentation, evocative. Jennifer Hudson, an American Idol finalist, tenderly performs this song.
1. Despicable Me 2-I Swear performed by the Minions
(Not a band called "The Minions, but characters from the film known as "the Minions")
Yeah, I'm not quite sure how this song got up there to the top of the list. I just kinda played the song so much that it had to be there. No excuses here, I actually enjoyed it that much. This song is absolutely beautiful and hilarious! What is not to like? The vocals are completely nonsensical but still harmonious and the song is based off of a popular love ballad from the ninety's. The song is cute, outstanding, and just beautiful! Now, where are the Golden Globe Award Nominee's for this performance?
To kick this off I've decided to continue the Best Cues Award of 2013. For this award I base my decision on how much I enjoyed the cue, the amount of thematic content in the cue, but most importantly how often I clicked play on the particular track. Brace yourselves, there was a lot in this category for the year!
(In numerical order with the number one being the greatest.)
Before we get into the top ten, here are a few honorable mentions:
4. Epic-Pursuit by Danny Elfman
For being a score called Epic, the music wasn't. However, that didn't stop me from enjoying Elfman's newest score. The music is acoustic, heroic, fast paced and exciting.
3. Gravity-Gravity by Steven Price
Up and coming new film composer Price, employs the use of gorgeous female vocals ranging from delicate to wailing. Most of the score unfortunately is heavily atmospheric, so it makes for a boring listen by itself, but given the title of the album, I'm sure it works perfectly with the film.
2. Jack The Giant Slayer-Chase To Cloister by John Ottman
The music by Ottoman is massive and horrifying at times. This particular cue utilizes both and includes a heroic theme. Typically, I don't enjoy music with large amount of cacophony, but Ottoman pulled this one off alright!
1. Ender’s Game-The Battle Room by Steve Jablonsky
A huge disapointment of the year was removing James Horner from this film project and sticking composer Steve Jablonsky to score this film. This cue, is the highlight of the album shining like a gem. This cue has beautiful violin arpeggios supported by the classic Jablonsky percussion and instrumentations.
And now, here are the Best Cues of 2013:
10. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon-Blood Dragon Theme by Power Glove
The score for this video game is extremely retro 1980's, and I love it. OK, so it's a little more upbeat than I like, however the throwback-ness of this score is very cool to hear and quite brave on the composer team, Power Glove's part. It's definitely one of the most unique scores of the year.
9. Man of Steel-Goodbye My Son by Hans Zimmer
This score was probably the most anticipated score of the year and many people, upon listening to it, cried bloody murder or just fell in love with it. This cue is like a lullaby with soothing female vocals humming then the cue transitions to an beautiful powerhouse anthem. Classic Zimmer.
8. After Earth-After Earth by James Newton Howard
This is another powerhouse anthem for the books. This cue utilizes the main theme Howard created for the score and maximizes it to beyond its potential!
7. The Lone Ranger-Silver by Hans Zimmer
Like I stated in my review for this score, Zimmer uses an Irish folk song, "After the Battle of Aughrim" in the theme for Silver who is.....well....a horse. If there were any epic themes for a horse then this cue is it.
6. Beyond Two Souls-Jodie’s Suite by Lorne Balfe
Another video game cue makes it into the list! This cue composed by Balfe, is another emotional powerhouse. It has mournful female vocals and a wonderful choral and orchestral accompaniment.
5. Iron Man 3-Iron Man 3 by Bryan Tyler
There is no denying it, Tyler is good at powerful superhero themes. This one is hands-down, his best. It's exciting, tense, and most importantly; blatantly heroic!
4. Winnie Mandela-Sunrise by Laurent Eyquem
Eyquem is another up and coming composer that is showing real potential. This cue is full of mournful vocals, simplistic woodwind accompaniment, and powerful percussion. (My apologies to you non-Spotify users, I could only find this particular cue there.)
3. Dr Who: Series 7-The Long Song by Murray Gold
Though, the score itself wasn't as great as the other Dr Who soundtracks from earlier seasons, I always manage to find a song in each score that I absolutely adore. This cue is amazing! The song has epic vocals with the solo performed by a child. The end is complex and stunning making this my 3rd favorite cue of the year.
2. Planes-Planes by Mark Mancina
Yes, I admit it. Upon seeing the trailer with this cue used, I fell in love with the film and score. Mancina has added a certain amount of charm and complexity to the score different from any of his other scores.
It's charm soars above its other competitors making this my 2nd favorite cue of '13.
Balfe and Zimmer have yet, another emotional powerhouse and it's in the form of a television score. This cue is simply powerful and intense. There is no denying it. One of Balfe's and Zimmer's best cues to be sure and definitely the most played cue of the year! Folks, this is what awesomeness is made of.