Incidental Music

Incidental Music: def. (noun)- music used in a film as a background to create or enhance a particular atmosphere, otherwise known as a score

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Family Friendly Score Reviews for March!

Hi everyone! Due to the high volume of scores released this month, I"m going to release my March reviews in two parts. Today, I'm reviewing the scores from this month's family movies. Let's go! 

Oz the Great and Powerful, by Danny Elfman-7/10
Did it fit the movie? Yes, definitely. It had that fantastical quality that Elfman lends wonderfully to all his scores. I hear that specifically in his use of choral voices, harp, and xylophone.
Did it make me feel something? Yes, at parts. I really liked the tracks with a lilting waltz/dance feel to them-A Serious Talk, Where Am I/Schmooze-a-Witch, and Fireside Dance were all tracks tha made me feel happy :) Glinda Revealed was lovely as well, evoking feelings of safety and peace. Some tracks were loud and a little bit frightening, such as Destruction and Oz Revealed, but none of them really "scared" me. I find this strange, because usually Elfman's scores have at least one track that terrifies me.
Was it original? Interestingly, I didn't think that this score was very original. Every time I hear an Elfman score, it seems as if he borrows from himself. I heard things in this score that reminded me of Nightmare Before Christmas, Spiderman,  and especially Alice in Wonderland. The one thing about this score that did make it different is that it felt less...creepy...than Elfman's other work. It was more gentle and sweet than scary. I kinda liked that. Also, I heard the opening lines to the Canadian national anthem in the main theme. Listen to Main Titles and you'll see what I mean.
Did I like it?  The more I listened to it, the more I liked it! It grew on me. Purchasing suggestion? Buy the tracks you like! (From what I've heard, I think the score is probably better than the movie, so give Elfman some love for his work). 

The Croods, by Alan Silvestri-8.5/10
Did it fit the movie? Completely. It made me think of family and fun and adventure and discovery. Silvestri used a mix of full orchestra and solo guitar for this score, along with several unique instruments that were reminiscent of tribal music. 
Did it make me feel something? Yes! Happiness! Many of the tracks were light and fluffy and just made me smile. I could totally see the Crood family discovering a new world accompanied by this music.
Was it original? Yes, I think it was! Silvestri used bongo drums and marimbas that I haven't heard in awhile, and he blended those tribal sounded with a full orchestra very well. He implemented other styles as well! There were also a couple of tracks that sounded randomly jazzy and those were really fun. On one track, Smash and Grab, he used the USC marching band to blare out a march! 
 Did I like it? I really liked it, because I thought it was adorable :) All the music just made me feel so good about life. Even the tracks that were probably supposed evoke "danger" ended up sounding happy in the end, just as they should in a family movie. I think Silvestri  was very aware of the younger audience that this movie targeted and therefore composed his music to entrance that audience. Purchasing suggestion? Buy the tracks you like, and if you're feeling particularly in the mood for light, happy music, buy the whole thing! My favorite tracks are The Croods Family Theme, Prologue, and Going Guy's Way.

Jack the Giant Slayer, by John Ottman-6/10
Did it fit the movie? Yes, it did. It had the feel of an epic adventure movie-full orchestra used pretty much the whole time with heavy emphasis on strings. I hadn't heard of Mr. Ottman before, so it was nice to hear from a new composer! He definitely got the genre right in terms of the sound of his score. His style on this film sounds very much like Harry Gregson-Williams work on the Chronicles of Narnia.
Did it make me feel something? Yes, it did. I  liked the Jack and Isabelle theme-it made me want to go on an adventure. Logo Mania had the same effect, with its invigorating rhythms and driving beat.  To Cloister and How Do You Do were really sweet and gentle, and First Kiss had a gorgeous, moving string section. Many of the tracks were just too loud and intrusive for me to really like them, which makes sense if you think about the movie itself. Giants are loud and intrusive :) 
Was it original? In the sense that the melodies were original, yes it was. But as far as orchestration goes, it sounded very similar to other fantasy films.
Did I like it? As a whole, no. Listening to it in context of the film might make it better, but when I simply listened to the score, it was just too loud for easy listening or as background for doing homework. However, I think that means that Ottman definitely did his job right! This movie was about slaying some giants so obviously the score couldn't be soft and gentle! Purchasing suggestion? Listen on Spotify or YouTube, and if you want, buy a couple tracks, but maybe not the whole thing.

And that's all for today, folks! Please listen to these scores and see what you think, and then come back later this week for the second batch of reviews from slightly less family friendly movies

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