Impressions – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story soundtrack – Music by Michael Giacchino

In keeping up with all things Star Wars, I wanted to give my impressions of the film’s score. I spoke briefly on this in my review of the movie. The film was originally set to be scored by prior Gareth Edwards collaborator Alexandre Desplat. Once he was no longer available, Michael Giacchino was called in and only had four weeks to get the music done for the film. The time frame had people concerned that the music would feel rushed. Obviously it would have been better if Giacchino had more time, the product put forth is a solid effort in Star Wars musical canon.

I will admit it still gets me to not hear the iconic theme to open things up. However this isn’t the typical Star Wars film so it makes sense that this isn’t a typical Star Wars score.

The music is thankfully in order as it’s heard in the film. Similar to John William’s score for The Force Awakens there aren’t big, bombastic themes that you can instantly identify. It works Best as a whole as opposed to something you can pick and choose such as the score for A New Hope. 

The first half of the score is similar to the structuring of the film’s first 2 acts. Things move quickly and it seems that Giacchino is trying to get his footing in where to give the film its own musical identity, but still making it Star Wars. Throughout the music you will hear those motifs just to remind you where you are. There’s a great inclusion of The Imperial March that gives me goosebumps.

Once the music shifts the scene to Scarif, like the film it picks up significantly. Giving a beautiful audio mixture of in the trenches war themes and Star Wars familiarity. You hear the evolution of the sound leading up to when the 1977 original comes into play. So as the music goes on, it improves.

Like the film, Rogue One’s music is a good start to this new era of cinematic Star Wars. If Giacchino is to do more music for the series, I am pleased with this effort and look forward to his and other composers to leave their mark on this iconic franchise.

Final Score (3.5/5) Rogue One’s score plays to your ears like the movie does for your eyes. Takes a moment to get itself situated, but once it does, it’s pretty darn good.

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Five Favorite Film Music Moments

A while back I made a post about my five favorite film scores. I decided to expand on that and give you all my favorite film music moments. So the way this works is I’m going to name some of my favorite movie moments and touch on why the music means so much to the scene.

Let’s begin!

5. Dawn Raid on Fort Knox (from Goldfinger) 1964, music by John Barry

The climax of the 3rd Bond film opens during the early morning as Goldfinger puts his plan into action. The Flying Circus of Pussy Galore soars across the skies as this musical piece plays. The track has high aspirations that match Goldfinger’s motivations. Even though Goldfinger is not one of my ten favorite Bond films, I find it a movie of moments and this certainly is one of them.

4. “I never said thank you…” (From Batman Begins) 2005, music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard


The ending to Christopher Nolan’s first installment of the Dark Knight Trilogy has Batman meeting with his now ally James Gordon. There they discuss the aftermath of the events that occurred in the 3rd act when Gordon presents him with a joker playing card. As Batman turns to jump off the building, Gordon says, “I never said thank you.” Batman’s response, “And you’ll never have to.” The music underscored this new relationship perfectly before transitioning to the credits. If there was no other film after this one, it would be a perfect ending since everything is wrapped up and we have the story of Batman Begins.

3. African Rundown (From Casino Royale) 2005, music by David Arnold

Back to Bond for this entry. Here we have a fantastic chase through Madagascar where Daniel Craig’s 007 runs down a bomb maker in a chase that culminates at an embassy. It’s a great scene made amazing because of the frantic score from Arnold. We recieved a new Bond and this scene and score told us he was a freight train that wouldn’t ever stop.

2. The Battle of Yavin (From Star Wars, 1977) music by John Williams

My favorite moment of my favorite film. The Battle of Yavin encapsulates all that make Star Wars my favorite film ever. The adventure, the thrills, the excitement. This piece of music IS Star Wars. Everything that it is, was and will be. Williams does it all. This is my favorite film score ever and this track is what makes it so.

1. Flight (From Man of Steel, 2013) Music by Hans Zimmer


The more I watch Man of Steel, the more it becomes one of my favorite superhero films. One of those reasons is the moment where Kal-El steps out into the world for the first time wearing the Superman attire. He is out in the Arctic thinking of the words his father Jor-El has told him and attempts to leap into the air. At first he struggles, but he clears his head, kneels and lifts off. Zimmer’s score for this scene is perfect. That is a Superman moment for me. I know this film is split amongst audiences, but this is a top moment in movies where the music and the image are in perfect sync.

There you have it! Five of my favorite film/music moments. Even in writing this post, I’ve thought of some more, so they may come at a later time. Let me know some of your favorite moments as well!

My Five Favorite Albums

Taking a movie break and giving you a music post. I don’t just love movie music, but I love music in general. My main love is rap/hip-hop and R&B. Different albums and artists can invoke different feelings and I can pretty much recall what I was going through when I listened to these albums. These are albums that if I was stranded on an island these would be what I need to get through it. So here they are!

Nas – Illmatic (1994) 

I love Illmatic. It’s not the first hip-hop but I love to listen to it as an overture of sorts in regard to the genre. 10 tracks. Not a word wasted. Great beats and Nas’ lyrics make this a classic of urban life. 

Michael Jackson – Off the Wall (1979) 

 

10 years ago if you asked me what the best Michael Jackson album was I would have told you Thriller. Then I was on a bus trip listening to Off the Wall on my iPod. And it clicked. This is basically a perfect album. I can listen from start to finish and no matter where you are, you can put this on and everyone will instantly have a great time.

TLC – CrazySexyCool (1994) 

 

An R&B album that blends so many styles yet feels totally cohesive. TLC’s second album is their best. There are so many hits and not one feels hollow. It shining example of 90s R&B but really comes across as timeless over 20 years later.

The Notorious BIG – Ready to Die (1994) 


The best songs tell a story. And Biggie is one of the best storytellers ever in hip-hop. You can’t help but to sit back and imagine what is actually going on in each track off his debut album and play them in your head almost cinematically.


Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001) 

 

The album that got me through high school. A near perfect blend of old school soul and new school mentality. Classics have to be timeless and this certainly is one. Perfect for any listening scenario.

So there you have it my five favorite albums! Now to think about what the next five would be in order to make a top 10.

DeaconsDen 5 Favorite Film Scores

Music is an essential part of the movie watching experience. For me it requires using your brain in a different way. You listen to music. Yet when music and cinema come together in a perfect blend you are seeing the music. It gives you chills, it widens your eyes, it transports you, it takes you to another world. As much as I may love to see what’s on the screen, when I fall in love with the score it really cements that film’s place for me as an absolute favorite. 

Here I present to you five film scores that I love sincerely and mean something to my development as a film lover.

5.) Beauty and the Beast (1991)  

 I was 6 years old when this film was released. I remember sitting in my seat and for the first time I can recall in my life, being captivated by a musical score. From the opening prologue to our introduction of Belle, I found myself separating the brilliant lyrics by the late Howard Ashman from the score by Alan Menken. You could say this inspired my interest in film as I began to watch specials on the making of Beauty and the Beast as well as other films. My first encounter with the idea of “Disney Magic.”

4) Batman (1989) 

 

I feel this is Danny Elfman’s best work. It has elements of his quirky style and at the same time perfectly fits the character. There aren’t too many opening themes to a film that I think are perfect, but this score has it. It totally sets the mood and everything about the score screams Batman. Elements of the score made it into Batman: The Animated Series which a lot of people claim (myself included) is the best iteration of Batman outside the comics. So it certainly is an inspiration. This film sparked my interest in superheroes and Danny Elfman’s work was a huge part of it.

3) Ben-Hur (1959)

 

An epic amongst epics. Miklos Rozsa was a master at these kind of scores. With films such as Ivanhoe and Quo Vadis under his belt, Rozsa excellently captures the grandiose scale of Ben-Hur. My favorite pieces of this score are its Overture which spells out musically (at least that’s how my ears interpret it) the journey that Judah Ben-Hur will soon take. From a prince to a slave to a man set on vengeance the overture’s tone flows to set the mood. I also love the music leading up to the chariot race scene. It brings to life the spectacle that is that scene and the entire film. Ben-Hur is one of the last great epic biblical films and its music is a masterclass in film scoring.

2) Star Trek: The Motion Picture 

 
Honestly, if you asked me, this is Jerry Goldsmith’s best score and most unappreciated at the same time. I feel it’s forgotten due to the the reception of the film itself. For me it captures the exploration of space and the wonders of discovery. This is what Star Trek is about. Two standout tracks are Ilya’s Theme which acts as the film’s overture. It’s soft and beautiful and sometime brings a tear or two while I’m listening. The other is Enterprise because it sums up the bond between Kirk and the Enterprise. Goldsmith has me feeling what I imagine what Kirk is feeling when he sees his ship again for the first time in years. Also there’s the main theme which I always thought was the theme for The Next Generation until I saw this for the first time. This film and this score to me is what Star Trek really is.

1) Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope

This is the only film score that I can perfectly play the entire film in my head as the music goes. John Williams is a virtuoso and this is his magnum opus to me. It drops adventure, fantasy, escapism. Everything is iconic and recognizable. This score was the icing on the cake to fully bring George Lucas’ vision to life.

So there you have it! The DeaconsDen 5 Favorite Film Scores. What are some of your faves? Let me know in the comments!

A Meeting of the Minds: Marvel Comics Hip-Hop Variants

I love comics. I love Marvel Comics. I love music. I love Hip-Hop. Well Marvel has taken these things I love and mashed them together for a special blend of superheroes and music. For each of their new #1 issues following the Secret Wars Event, Marvel has released a variant cover based on a hip-hop album covers from past and present. I saw that they were doing this and had to get in. I did not get all of them, but here are a few that I have gotten that I am pleased to share.

Doctor Strange #1 – Cover based on The Chronic by Dr. Dre 

 
The Astonishing Ant-Man #1 – Cover based on Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G. 

 

The Invincible Iron Man #1 – Cover based on Get Rich or Die Tryin by 50 Cent 

 
Amazing Spider-Man #1 – Cover based on Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest 

 
Spider-Gwen #1 – Cover based on The Great Adventures of Slick Rick by Slick Rick 

 
Contest of Champions #1 – Cover based on Liquid Swords by GZA 

 

Reactions – Star Wars: The Force Awakens Motion Picture Soundtrack

  

It wouldn’t be Star Wars without its iconic music. That music wouldn’t be iconic if not for the touch of John Williams who has graced the series for all seven of its installments. How does the score for The Force Awakens stand for me in regards to the other films. Here are a few initial reactions.

  1. The score is much more subtle than any score in the series. Episodes 1-6 all have bombastic moments from start to finish which is fine. I’m not addressing those as an issue, but this one probably wouldn’t be as immediately recognizable. 
  2. There’s no “one track.” No Duel of the Fates, Across the Stars or Battle of the Heroes. This score itself is in a way one track as it blends well with the whole film.
  3. Rey’s Theme is fantastic! I look forward to hearing it evolve over the next few films.
  4. No London Symphony Orchestra this time around.

If I ranked this score I would wager it falls in the middle for me. However it’s still a great piece of Star Wars music and it handles itself a little more discreetly than the scores of the previous films. Time will tell with its overall place in history for me with subsequent viewings of The Force Awakens.

  

First Reaction – Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre

  

I haven’t covered anything music related since I wrote about Jay-Z’s The Blueprint on one of my earliest posts. As a huge fan of Dr. Dre’s work as far back as N.W.A, I was excited to hear he was releasing an album. Great timing considering the Straight Outta Compton film will be released soon. The last album Dre released was in 1999 with “2001.” 16 years is a long time. Dre has put in a lot of work during that time working with Game, Eminem and 50 Cent. I know we were expecting “Detox,” but what we have here is a fantastic album and a great testament to the Doctor’s career and influence in hip hop. This isn’t “The Chronic” or “2001.” This isn’t a banger type of album. While obviously there are some songs I like more than others, there isn’t a song I can pick and skip to. This album must be taken in as a whole. It feels like the natural evolution of Dre’s sound that we love and at the same time, a love letter to his city. Even though I am from Philadelphia I can understand totally the love of your hometown and I deeply respect that. Will this album be considered classic? Probably not. You won’t be spinning this at clubs and parties. However as piece of music from one of the best producers ever, it works on all levels for me and I can feel the love that went into this project. I highly recommend it.