John Williams Returning to Star Wars!

John Williams Autograph

From my autograph collection.

As I’m sure you have read by now, John Williams is returning to compose the score for Star Wars: Episode VII.  This is, of course, fantastic news.  When J.J. Abrams was announced as director, many people assumed that his longtime collaborator, Michael Giacchino would do the score.  This would have been a suitable second choice, as Giacchino is really an excellent composer, and seems to have been very heavily influenced by Williams, but nothing can compare to having Williams back.  He recorded this interview for the Star Wars convention at which his return was announced.  Check it out: Continue reading

Why is it so hard to make a good soundtrack album?

The third CD that I ever bought was a film soundtrack (the first two were Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” and Garth Brooks’ “Greatest Hits”).  It was the soundtrack to Independence Day, and I actually bought it in the hopes of it having R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” which for some reason I really wanted on CD.  I was disappointed when the song was missing from the soundtrack album, but after listening to the CD I realized how much I enjoyed the score, composed by David Arnold.  Thus began my obsession with film scores, and my collection of albums showcasing them.

I’ve been listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack for the past week or so on my commute to work, and I’ve realized that there are several very big problems with the film score album as a whole in the industry.  I don’t know why it’s so damn hard to put together a decent album from a film score, but I’ve come up with a list of several of the problems: Continue reading

Analysis: The Musical Climax

I love musicals, but I love musical climaxes even more.  No, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter!  I’ve always enjoyed movies that have either the climax of the story, or at least a major plot point, revolve around a musical number, particularly when it is unexpected.  I don’t mean in musicals, but in movies that otherwise have no musical numbers and are not about music.  In other words, not movies like Crazy Heart, Ray, or A Prairie Home Companion, all of which are in some way about music.

I also don’t mean scenes set to music, either as a montage or to set the mood for the scene, like in Rocky, The Breakfast Club or Cruel Intentions.  I’m not even talking about musical climaxes that are the obvious result of the plot, like in Dirty Dancing, Sister Act, or Little Miss Sunshine.  What I’m talking about are moments when characters in otherwise non-musical movies have some sort of musical performance/dance number/song that resolves their issues, expresses their feelings, or advances the plot in a way that’s unique compared to the rest of the film, and is often unexpected or completely surprising.  Here are some examples of what I mean: Continue reading