Best Scores of 2014

So we come to it at last. The Best Scores of 2014.
This year has been a fantastic year folks, much better than last to be perfectly honest. I had such a difficult time narrowing down the list (More than last year), and ultimately picking the top ten best out of the many awesome scores released. In fact it was so close that it came to a tie for tenth place.
It was also really cool to see many breakout composers this year (Gustavo Dudamel, Tomas Kantelinen, and Alberto Iglesias to name a few), and many veteran composers returning after a hiatus (David Newman and John Powell for example). All of which provided me with several pleasant surprises throughout the year.
So without further ado here are the ten best scores of my choosing for 2014.

10. Tarzan by David Newman-Tie
Rating ****1/2
Tarzan And Jane by David Newman on Grooveshark
I've already reviewed this gem of a score previously, so I'll be brief. Newman is a seriously underrated composer to be sure. The scores that he's composed are amazing, and yet they don't get enough exposure and this one is no exception. He uses a blend of synth layered with strings, brass, and a choir making this score have an epic feel to it.

10. Book of Life by Gustavo Santaollala-Tie
Rating ****1/2
El Aparato-Land of the Remembering (ft. Café Tacuba) by Gustavo Santaolalla on Grooveshark
This score was the pleasant surprise of the year. The album has a strong latin influence, given the theme of the film, but also goes from soothing vocals to fast paced action music with guitar riffs and fast paced percussion. I didn't expect such a wide range of music styles coming from this film score and overall I thought this score was different and fun to listen through.

9. Hidden Kingdoms by Ben Foster
Rating ****1/2
Life by Ben Foster on Grooveshark
There are many amazing animal themed documentary scores out there that are grandiose, beautiful, and big. But this one is somewhat different. British composer, Ben Foster was told to create a score that was similar to that of a charming Pixar film but with the same amount of awe of a classic BBC documentary score. Foster pulled it off. The score ranged from lighthearted to intense styled cues covering various genres like spaghetti western, to latin, to bond-esq, to african, to just plain old orchestral epicness. This one may just be the best BBC documentary score that I have heard out there!

8. Pompeii by Clinton Shorter
Rating ****1/2
My People Were Horsemen by Clinton Shorter on Grooveshark

Anyone who read my previous review can't say their "surprised to see this one on the list, right?" This was my guilty pleasure of the year hands down. I love trailer music and I love period epic scores. The soundtrack is both. While not intellectually stimulating, the music is blatantly heroic, epic, action-filled, and fun. Period epics don't get much better than this, folks!


7. Hercules by Fernando Velasquez
Rating ****1/2
End-Titles by Fernando Velázquez on Grooveshark

While we are on the subject of guilty pleasures of the year, this particular score has to come up. While still very similar to the media ventures style of soundtracks, Spanish composer, Fernando Velesquez delivers a solid action score. The music is brassy, epic, and bold with a catchy and heroic main theme. While many preferred Velasquez's other scores saying that "Hercules was a departure from his normal classic orchestral composing", I disagree. This score is a blast to listen to all the way though and boasts of.

6. Malificent by James Newton Howard
Rating ****1/2
Maleficent Suite by James Newton Howard on Grooveshark

Malificent brings Disney scores back to her golden age; A time when synth in music was virtually unheard of and composers had to rely on creating wonderful themes instead of computers doing it for them (Not that synth is bad, I love a good mixture of synth in scores, but sometimes composers rely on them a bit too much). Composer, James Newton Howard, hearkens us back to that time with this magnificent composition. His themes are dark, but hopeful; broody, but melodic as he utilizes a full choir and orchestra throughout the album. This is what used to make a great fantasy score and it is absolutely wonderful to relive that once again! The movie may be a new twist on a old story, but the score is an old twist on a refreshing musical journey.

5. Planes: Fire and Rescue by Mark Mancina
Rating *****
Fire Heroes by Mark Mancina on Grooveshark
By now, you all probably know how much I enjoy composer Mark Mancina, his first score for Planes, and this one. Although I can' totally pinpoint it, there is just a certain amount of charm that comes from listening to this score. It's a pleasant mix of nostalgia that brings me back to the classic heroic themed scores of the past. Maybe I have scared you all away at this point. Don't worry. It get's better. Seriously, keep reading.

4. Liberatdor (The Liberator) by Gustavo Dudamel
Rating *****
¿Quién Puede Detener La Lluvia? by Gustavo Dudamel on Grooveshark
Originally released in South America, this Venezuelan film follows the military campaigns of Simon Bolivar who never once conquered, but liberated. The music itself is an epic battle score of sorts.It's has gorgeous woodwinds, ethnic percussion, and solemn choral themes. Venezualian composer, Gustavo Dudamel outdid himself with this masterpiece. It's heroic, epic, tender, and reminiscent of Italian composer, Ennio Morricone's Latin themed scores.

3. The Giver by Marco Beltrami
Rating *****
End Credits by Marco Beltrami on Grooveshark
I had mentioned to keep an eye out for this one in one of my previous 2014 awards post, didn't I? Well, here it is, listed as the third best score of 2014. The whole score, composed by Marco Beltrami, is just amazing. The choral themes are tender, the action material, (albeit somewhat lacking), is engaging, and the main theme is inspiring. Having seen the film and heard the soundtrack, I can say without a doubt that this is Beltrami's best score. If you haven't heard it, check it out for yourself!

2. How To Train Your Dragon 2 by John Powell
Rating *****
Two New Alphas by John Powell on Grooveshark
How can I say this? HTTYD 2 is just plain awesome. I have listened to this score numerous times and haven't been bored by a single track. The writing put into this music is definitely a work of love on Powell's part and although I'm disappointed that he will be taking another hiatus this year, I seriously doubt he can create a better score than this one. I'm pretty skeptical, but a hopeful skeptic at that! The music boast of being epic, and takes themes from his work with the first film and matures them a great deal. I can't say that I am surprised to see this as the second best score of 2014. There is only one score that is better, and that score is:

1. Field of Lost Shoes by Frederick Wiedmann
Rating *****


(Unfortunately the only online streaming audio I could find for this score was on YouTube, and the cues are only samples.)
The film is based on a true story and follows a group of teenage cadets fighting during the Civil War. The title itself is based on the fact that the battlefield became so muddy that the cadets would lose their boots in it leaving behind a "field of lost shoes."
German composer, Frederick Wiedmann describes his work on the film as "an epic trip down memory lane" with the music being a "sweeping, epic, orchestral work".
It's obvious when a composer puts heart and soul into his work and this is such an occasion. When listening to score I never listen through more than once. I listen through than stir over the music and listen to it a second time on a later date. But upon the album's completion, I felt like I had to hear it all over again it was so good.
Unfortunately the score is not widely distributed and only available on LaLa Land Records with a few available on Amazon.com. It's definitely worth picking up your own copy as the music, although not entirely a new style, transcends other war film scores with not just gorgeous themes, but with heart.

Honorable Mentions 

Big Hero 6 by Henry Jackman
Rating ****
Reboot by Henry Jackman on Grooveshark

America by Bryan E. Miller
Rating ****


The Legend of Hercules by Tuomas Kantelinen
Rating ****

The Monument's Men by Alexandre Desplat
Rating ****
Basic Training by Alexandre Desplat on Grooveshark

Refracted Glory by Gabriel Hudelson and Bradley Jamrozic
Rating ****

I hope you enjoyed discovering perhaps, some new scores and finding out my favorites for the year. Be sure to let me know what your favorites were in the comments section and be sure to stay tuned for upcoming reviews for scores releasing this year, 2015!

The animation genre of film scores was, like last year, very strong with music styles ranging from classic orchestral to epic choral, to 1980's inspired cues. Every album was unique and I had a difficult time deciding on the best one.
The animation genre has always been really different giving the composer a chance at scoring bright and vivid stories told through computer rendered graphics. The common cliche is for the composer to rely on "Mickey Mousing" (Synchronized, mirrored, or parallel scoring is a film technique that syncs the accompanying music with the actions on screen), which usually detracts from the listening experience. I am always on the lookout for a decent and engaging animated score which avoids that common pitfall. With that being said, here is my list of 2014's best animated film scores.

4. Big Hero 6  by Henry Jackman
Big Hero 6 by Henry Jackman on Grooveshark
This score is solid. And very unique. Jackman utilizes retro 1980's styled percussion and a heroic, brassy main theme. This is a classic superhero score folks with fun written all over it. Seriously. Jackman must have had a blast writing it!

3. The Book of Life by Gustavo Santaolalla
The Tale Begins by Gustavo Santaolalla on Grooveshark
I love a good latin flavored score, and The Book of Life by Gustavo Santaolalla is one of the best I've heard in a while. The score has a mix of thematic material ranging from the classic flaminco guitar and "clacking" castanets to soothing violin and vocal solos. This score is a lot of fun with a good blend of different and entertaining cues.


2. Planes: Fire and Rescue by Mark Mancina
Training Dusty by Mark Mancina on Grooveshark
I loved the first Planes score by Mancina and I didn't at all expect him to surpass it, but Mancina did. This score doesn't have as much thematic material as the first, but the music is more of a solid orchestral action score. Mancina reprises his classic main theme only adding some new string arpeggios and more percussion to make it somewhat different than his first version. But this score, instead of relying on songs from the film and upbeat, contemporary styled music goes old school with soaring orchestral cues, brassy jazz, and even a subtle nod to the Monuments Men  main theme by Alexandre Desplat, and to several 80's themed TV show main titles. The album is an all-around solid orchestral score with engaging, heroic, and exciting cues that don't disappoint.

1. How To Train Your Dragon 2 by John Powell
Toothless Lost by John Powell on Grooveshark
No surprises here, right? It's great to see composer John Powell back in the game, if not briefly for 2014. I loved this score from start to finish without there ever being a dull moment (That's really saying something coming from me since I tend to be so picky). There are no words really to describe this soundtrack except as being blatantly epic. Take my word for it and check it out yourself.

Honorable Mentions

The Penguins of Madagascar by Lorne Balfe
Adeliae by Lorne Balfe on Grooveshark

The Lego Movie by Mark Mothersbough
Prologue by Va - www.musicasparabaixar.org on Grooveshark

Any favorites of your's that I didn't include? Comment and let know!
Be sure to stay tuned for the Best Scores of 2014 which I'll be posting withing the next few days.

Best Television Score of 2014
The scores for television were somewhat disappointing this year save for the two mentioned here. That being said, however, a lot of pressure is put on composers for television. Not only do they have hours and hours of material to compose but they have a very limited time in which to do so (Less time than what most feature length film composers are given). Much respect given to the composers who have overtaken that endevour and succeeded in creating a decent soundtrack that makes for an entertaining listening experience.

2. Black Sails by Bear McCreary
Black Sails Main Title by Bear McCreary on Grooveshark
While somewhat mundane to listen all the way through, kudos have to be given to this extremely talented and creative composer! Black Sails is a pirate themed television show but instead of tasking the traditional route of swashbuckling, action-centered, music, McCreary wanted to create music that sounded "gritty and raw like sea salt". So, with the music he incorporates several very unique instruments; an out of tune Hurdy Gurdy, a dilapidated and broken piano, a small men's ensemble, and various percussion including the Bodhran and animal bones. Sounds unique, doesn't it? Check out the main theme which utilizes all of the aforementioned instruments.

1. Sherlock Season 3 by Dave Arnold and Michael Price
The East Wind by David Arnold & Michael Price - www.musicasparabaixar.org on Grooveshark
The album runs a bit too long and some of the music a bit repetitive, but this makes the best TV score of 2014 regardless. The music ranges from dubstep electronic to beautiful orchestral cues, creating quite a quirky score. But since the show is just that, it fits perfectly and I wouldn't want Sherlock to sound any other way.

Best Video Game Score of 2014
This was a good year for video game scores. 2014 provided some really stellar albums but I managed to narrow it down to the best two. Video games have become basically interactive movies and provide the composer with lots of material to cover. But that's good for us soundtrack fans, because that means more score to enjoy!

2. Dragon Age: Inqusition by Trevor Morris
Main Theme [Extended] by Trevor Morris on Grooveshark
What's this? Trevor Morris composing for video games now? Bring it on.
This score is massive. I mean, the amount of cues, the scope of the music, it all just reeks of epic. Full orchestral themes with pounding percussion, bombastic brass, and a full choir. There's not much in this album not to like. I'm glad to see Morris jump out of his comfort zone and can't wait to see him compose another video game score!

1. Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom's Cry


Olivier Deriviere is fantastic at composing. Really. He just is. From his scores Alone in the Dark, Remember Me, to this one, he provides entertaining and original video game scores. This one is no exception. This game is a DLC from the Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag franchise, but thank goodness Deriviere was allowed to create his own completely different theme to fit this mini-game. He integrates several traditional Haitian medleys into this action based score which doesn't become at all repetitive but truly the unique highlight of the year.

Honorable Mention

The Banner Saga by Austin Wintory
Of Our Bones, the Hills by Austin Wintory on Grooveshark
I couldn't help but mention this gem of a score. You may recognize the composer, Austin Wintory from my soundtrack awards two years ago. He truly delivers. This sequel to the best video game score of 2012, The Journey, takes us through another adventurous but different soundscape. This game focus' on Vikings and so Wintory brings us a historically accurate soundtrack utilizing several midieval instruments, a small manly sounding choir, and solo violin. The ensemble is small but Wintory uses every last bit of it and it becomes a cold and bitter, but hopeful and driving score.

Any personal favorites? What albums did you just hear about from reading this? Comment and let me know and be sure to stay tuned for the best animated films of the year next!

Whether it's used to bring the message of the film home, showcase during the end credits, or used as filler music during a montage (A diologue-less and word-less scene), a song originally written for a film stands out. Sometimes the composer is given the opportunity to write the music for it and other times another music artist is hired on. In any case, it's what the mainstream audience remembers and takes from the score and what can make or break a film.
So without further ado here are the top six best original songs as written for a 2014 film and/or score.

Top 6 Best Original Songs

6. Malificent, Once Upon A Dream by Lana Del Rey
Once Upon A Dream by Lana Del Rey on Grooveshark
A semi-depressing song takes the list for number five. This underscore is dark and broody, but Lana Del Rey's sweet sounding voice deeply contrasts the style of the song.

5. Bound, Chains by Nathan Jacobson, Anna Stoyeff, and Breanna Buckhout

This addition was pretty last minute given the album released so close to the end of 2014 but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. The lyrics are powerful and the vocalist's tender performance blend perfectly with the swelling strings, pounding snare, and solo piano ( My apologies to non-Spotify users, this song could only be streamed there).

4. Penguins of Madagascar, He's Dave by Antony Genn
He Is Dave by Lorne Balfe & Antony Genn on Grooveshark
I love spy-esq scores and this one is just that. A total blast. This song keeps with the fun James Bond-esq style with the closing song written about the villain of this movie. It's a whole bunch of fun and reminiscent of the brassy spy film scores from the past.

3. Dragon Age: Inqusition, The Dawn Will Come by Various Chorus. Arranged by Trevor Morris
11_The Dawn Will Come by Trevor Morris on Grooveshark
I love acapella songs. Especially when used in film. It's just so rare. The funny thing is, this particular song was used in a video game score. Even better. The composer, Trevor Morris, creates this sober choral anthem giving the feels of calm during the storm. I haven't played the game, nor do I know of the storyline, however, I imagine this scene was nothing less than epic.

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hanging Tree, performed by Jennifer Lawrence
The Hanging Tree by James Newton Howard on Grooveshark
This song sprung up to Billboard's top 100 list. That is amazing considering Jennifer Lawrence isn't a singer; she's an actress. Yet, this song is profound and inspirational as it becomes a rallying cry to action for the character's in the film. Play it loud and sing along. Really, just do it. It's that awesome.

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Last Goodbye performed by Billy Boyd
The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd on Grooveshark
Celtic singer and veteran actor from The trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, Billy Boyd performs this tender and retrospective song used in the end credits of this film. It's a powerful send-off for Howard Shore's last entry in the Hobbit trilogy and is indeed a last and final goodbye to Middle Earth. I couldn't think of a better song from 2014 than this one. It's a powerhouse to be sure.

Here are some others that didn't make the list, but I thought were worth at last mentioning.

Honorable Mentions

Coliseum, Rudis by Priscilla Hernandez
>>  This song would have been number six on the list, except I didn't count it, since it wasn't composed for a film. It was composed for a show, Coliseum, which is a historical performance of the games from ancient Rome. (Once again, my apologies to non-Spotify users, this song could only be streamed there.)

NoahMercy Is performed by Patti Smith
Mercy Is - Patti Smith by Clint Mansell on Grooveshark

How To Train Your Dragon 2, Where No One Goes performed by Jonsi
Where No One Goes by John Powell on Grooveshark

Unbroken, Miracles performed by Coldplay
Miracles by Cold Play on Grooveshark

Ten Best Cues of 2014

It's that time of year again! That time to go through the best scores of 2014 and pick some of my personal favorites of the year. Once again, like last year, I'm starting with one of my favorite awards: The Ten Best Cues of 2014. The music in soundtrack albums is used to assist in driving a story and sometimes the music takes over the wheel and drives the story. That is when specific cues in albums shine. These are just a few that I listened to countless times throughout the year so without further ado, here are the top ten best cues of the year based on enjoyability, number of times listened, and awesomeness!

Best Cues of 2014

10. Belle-Let Justice Be Done by Rachel Portman
Let Justice Be Done by Rachel Portman on Grooveshark
Portman has always been known for her simplistic, romantic style in composing and underscoring and this score is no exception. Most of her scores have never on any level appealed to me. It may just be her style that I don't care for. However, this one cue from 2014 historical romance, Belle, has a harmonious and lovely melody. The main theme included in the cue doesn't come forth too often until the end of this album found in this particular cue.

9. Big Hero 6-Microbots by Henry Jackman
Microbots by Henry Jackman on Grooveshark
This score is just downright fun. And this cue is the epitome of it all. Classic 1980's synth is the backdrop to this upbeat, brassy, and happy tune. The whole cue is very nostalgic and delivers a catchy ditty superbly.

8. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier-End of the Line by Henry Jackman
End of the Line by Henry Jackman on Grooveshark
Another Jackman cue? Splendid. This score itself was probably the biggest disappointment for me in all of 2014's releases, however there were a few shining stars amongst this gritty, abrasive, electronic score. This is one of those moments. The most touching scene in the movie condensed into this simplistic piano solo. Less is more my friends. Way more.

7. The Giver-Rosebud by Marco Beltrami
Rosebud by Marco Beltrami on Grooveshark
You will probably be seeing this score pop up throughout the 2014 awards to come, just saying. This score was amazing and this cue, being the climax in the film, delivers a powerful emotional punch. The inspirational background percussion spurs this protagonist on in the film, and spurs the brass main theme into it's glorious entirety. The strings take it away as the choir softly chants in the background. What a wonderful feeling this cue brings.

 6. America: Imagine a World Without Her-Washington Lost by Bryan E. Miller

This controversial docudrama dropped the thought provoking question, "What if there was no America? Imagine a world without her." This cue brings all of that to reality as the scene depics George Washing getting shot in the Revolutionary War. Now, I'm a history buff, so this premise excited me and this cue delivers a powerful wallop. Heroic brass, fast paced percussion, and ecstatic  choir announces Washington taking his stance on the battlefield against the Redcoats then drops to dramatic but mournful choir as the General is tragically shot. This cue, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a masterpiece.

  5. Pompeii-Pompeii by Clinton Shorter
Pompeii by Clinton Shorter on Grooveshark
Have you heard of this film or score? Probably not. The movie was a major flop in theatres and most people thought the score was just trailer music. Well I like trailer music in the right kind of films. And I think "trailer music"  should be used more often in big historical epics like this. This main theme is just that. Big. Brassy. Massive Choir. Fast paced percussion. Epic. Sheer joy.

4. How To Train Your Dragon 2-Flying With Mother by John Powell.
Flying With Mother by John Powell on Grooveshark
John Powell is not dead! He returns shortly this year to bring us two scores, Rio 2 and this gem; How To Train Your Dragon 2. This cue has a funky beat and off kilter women's vocals which add to the charm. The cue drops off to a nice waltz-like style as the Celeste and various other percussion intones. This cue is exactly what I hoped for: blatant Powell. The percussion, the music, everything boast of classic John Powell. And oh, how I love it!

3. Big Hero 6-First Flight by Henry Jackman
First Flight by Henry Jackman on Grooveshark
We're back to this score. Although this cue isn't quite as happy as the last, it's even better: blatantly heroic. The main theme comes out full-force in all of it's brassy and synthy glory and I can't help but wish to....fly.

2. How To Train Your Dragon 2-Stoick's Ship by John Powell
Stoick's Ship by John Powell on Grooveshark
The emotional climax of the film comes to a thundering halt in this tribute to the Protagonist's dad, Stoic. This cue starts off with his theme, a soft celtic variation of the folk song, For the Dancing and Dreaming, and cuts off to glorious choir and bold bagpipes. It's a glorious send off and no doubt the second best cue of the year.

1. Pompeii-Praying for Help by Clinton Shorter
Praying for Help by Clinton Shorter on Grooveshark
This cue was used as the film's opening credits and is a heroic, all-out men's anthem. The theme is catchy, and I wish I knew the lyrics to belt it out (Is that weird? Maybe just a bit. But not too weird).
This is definitely my most listened to and most enjoyed cue of the year. While I'm not a fan of the composer, this score has given me hope for other historical epic scores.

That being all said, here are a few that didn't quite make the list so I'll just list them as "Honorable Mentions".

Honorable Mentions

The Hobbit 3: The Battle of the Five Armies-Ironfoot by Howard Shore
Ironfoot (Deluxe Extended) by Howard Shore on Grooveshark

Sherlock Season 3-How It Was Done by Dave Arnold and Michael Price
How It Was Done by David Arnold & Michael Price - www.musicasparabaixar.org on Grooveshark

What were your favorites? Comment to let me know and stay tuned for the next few Best of 2014 Awards in the weeks to come.

Noah

In the Beginning, There Was Nothing by Clint Mansell on Grooveshark
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......?
Day and Night Shall Not Cease by Clint Mansell on Grooveshark
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).
Like my previous review, 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.
Mercy Is - Patti Smith by Clint Mansell on Grooveshark
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.
And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."

-Genesis 5:5-8

Rating ***1/2

Best Cues:
  • Not able to decide on one single cue. Each cue is awesome but the experience is best heard with the cues all together.

Newman's Tarzan

Prologue by David Newman on Grooveshark
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).
Tarzan Fight by David Newman on Grooveshark
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.
Tarzan Mourns For Kala by David Newman on Grooveshark
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!

Rating: ****1/2

Best Cues:
  • 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.

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