Music in Film: Batman Special

As part of our Countdown to The Dark Knight Rises series I was going to simply sing my praises of the Danny Elfman Batman score, which I find to be one of cinema’s most memorable and downright awesome blockbuster soundtracks ever created, but when I thought back to the music in the various cinematic incarnations of the character I realised that most of the scores have been pretty memorable, so instead I bring you Batman music through the ages…

1960’s Batman Theme

You can’t talk about Batman music without including this, which I imagine made an appearance in the 1966 movie:

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Music in Film: Legend (1985)

Artist/Composer: Tangerine Dream
Produced and Arranged by: Brandon K. Verrett
Duration: 73 min
Label: BuySoundtrax

This review is actually a case of good timing for our Ridley Scott extravaganza rather than a carefully planned post. I’ve been in touch with a specialist promotions firm I’m going to start working with to review soundtracks on my blog and one of the first albums that came up was a new reworking of the soundtrack to Scott’s 1985 fantasy curio Legend.

The score for Legend, like the film, has a complicated history. With Ridley Scott’s film getting manhandled by the studios, the film ended up having a different version in Europe as it did in the US. Due to this the film also ended up having to have two scores produced. The original score was actually by the great Jerry Goldsmith and was used in the European release as well as in a later released directors cut. The original US theatrical and home video releases however had a score composed by German electro/prog-rock legends Tangerine Dream who were brought in late on in post-production to replace Goldsmith’s score. The version I am reviewing is a new re-interpretation of this soundtrack by composer Brandon Verrett.

After being approached to arrange the “Unicorn Theme” from the Tangerine Dream soundtrack for a digital single, Verrett was pleased with the result and had the idea of recreating the entire album. As he puts it, “our original intent was to take the conception of the original Tangerine Dream tracks and arrange them in such a way that they feel organic, earthy, and more contemporary while still capturing the essence of the originals.” The original soundtrack also contained two songs featured in the movie: “Loved by the Sun,” sung by Yes singer Jon Anderson (a lyricized version of “Unicorn Theme”), and “Is Your Love Strong Enough”, performed by Bryan Ferry and heard over the end credits. On this recording, singer Katie Campbell interprets these songs in her own fashion.

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How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song [Soundtrack Preview]

Our buddy Gary King (New York Lately, Death of the Dead) keeps on diving from genre to genre so I suppose it only makes sense that at some point a filmmaker like that is going to tackle a musical. King seems to be attacking this one with gusto and a visual flair not often seen in indie film making.

How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song features all original songs written by Joe Schermann and all performed by the talented cast (Joe Schermann, Christina Rose, Debbie Williams). And you’ll be able to hear the incredible orchestral arrangements written for the songs by composer Ken Lampl.

“This truly has been a memorable collaboration…What I really dig about these songs is that I asked for Joe to create different styles for each lead character. He took it and ran with it. I love these songs. In the film, you will hear his influences of Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown and yes, even Springsteen in them.”

We’re looking forward to finally checking out the film sometime over the next 12 months on the festival circuit (I know for a fact it’s been submitting to many!). Before that, a full fledged trailer should be on its way and today we’ve got a soundtrack preview of some of the songs all set to stills from the film. Take a listen and look to the video below and see what you think.
 

 

1. “I WANT” performed by Christina Rose (0:00-0:36)
2. “WRITE ME A LOVE SONG” performed by Christina Rose and Joe Schermann (0:36-1:18)
3. “I FELL IN LOVE” performed by Debbie Williams and Joe Schermann (1:18-1:56)
4. “30 DAYS OF RAIN” performed by Debbie Williams and Joe Schermann (1:56-2:22)
5. “I HATE SUMMER” performed by Christina Rose (2:22-2:46)
6. “MOTH TO THE FLAME” performed by Christina Rose and Debbie Williams (2:46-3:25)
7. “HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG” performed by Joe Schermann and Company (3:25-4:43)

 

Music in Film: Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento’s Suspiria is justly celebrated for its bright, bloody set-pieces and flamboyant use of color, but it’s hard to imagine the movie being nearly as assaultive without the nearly omnipresent overwhelming score from the progressive band Goblin, who also provided the score for several of Argento’s other films. They recorded the music first, then Argento layered it into the film, a technique which works perfectly in this case, blending music into sound design to create sensory overload that matches, and sometimes even surpasses, Argento’s in-your-face visuals.

This is the opening of the film, through the first set-piece, and you can already tell how important the music is going to be, from the initially delicate but creepy as hell main theme up to the frenzy of the horrific first kill. My favorite part of the movie, though, is actually the visually-subdued scene with the blind man and his dog walking into the square – a scene which is terrifying almost solely through the score and sound design. Suspiria beats you senseless with its stylistics (in the best way possible), and the Goblin score is a huge part of that.

Music In Film: Rap das Armas (Elite Squad)

EliteSquadRapdasArmas

For this week’s Music In Film I thought I would highlight one of the first things that came to mind when I thought of use of an existing song (as opposed to a composed score) which kicks things off and sets the tone for the action to come. In this case it’s “Rap das Armas” (aka Rap of Weapons) by Brazilian rap duo Cidinho and Doca (it was originally a song in the ’90s but these guys made it a hit). It is used in the opening scene of José Padilha’s excellent City of God-esque action-crime film Elite Squad (or Tropa de Elite to use its original Portuguese name).

Apart from being a catchy song in its own right which you can easily listen to out with the actual movie itself, like I said it sets the tone up for the rest of the movie. It has a pulsing beat and a strange rhythm as it accompanies an outdoor rave with the titular Elite Squad arriving on the scene to sort things out (when the police need help these are the guys they call!) One of my favourite openings of a movie in the last five years.

Check out the scene below and how well the music is suited:

Music In Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Warning: SPOILERS lay within.

For our first entry in our new Music In Film series I thought why not highlight what is probably my favourite film score of all time? Composed by the great duo of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – who also did The Proposition and The Road – the score for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward of Robert Ford is a masterclass in setting tone, perfectly encapsulating and emulating the somber, sad and ponderous nature of the film.

Writer/director Andrew Dominik certainly takes his time telling this tale – the film is not only over 150 minutes long but is slow-paced to boot – but the stunning visuals (each frame could be put up on display on your living room wall) and phenomenal performances keep things fascinating. But it’s the score by Cave and Ellis which gives Jesse James its “soft edge,” its enveloping tone, its magical atmosphere.

There are 14 tracks on the soundtrack (19 on the special edition) and Cave and Ellis manage to make each track distinctive and uniquely evocative in their own right but still clearly part of the same overall package. A lot of scores have one overall musical motif that’s basically repeated throughout each track so in that way this score is quite unique.
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