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King Kong (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Album Review

Julia Roberts followed Pretty Woman with the pretty depressing Dying Young. If your girlfriend/wife had to drag you to this film, rest assured you can opt out of buying the soundtrack. Like the film, James Newton Howard's score is life-affirming, romantic, and touching. Cameos from Kenny G, Jeffrey Osborne, and King Curtis are woven into Howard's modest tapestry, and the sum effect feels like Checkfield with a sax player and an old Nat King Cole nugget tossed in for texture. The instrumentals are built around piano, acoustic guitar, lush strings, and horns, creating a folky new age feel. At under 40 minutes, Dying Young isn't the self-standing work one might have hoped for, but the soundtrack atones for its shortcomings with a suffusion of beautiful music. Some will dismiss this as schmaltz out of hand, and a compelling argument to the contrary isn't forthcoming, but if the music does no more than indulge a romantic fantasy for half an hour then it's served a valuable purpose. Standout tracks include the opening theme, King Curtis' jazzy take on "All the Way," and the closing "I'll Never Leave You (Love Theme)." A lot of soundtracks don't make the leap from the screen cleanly, limping along in musical fragments like the obligatory chase scene and so on. Not so with this soundtrack, which combines utility and intrinsic beauty; in fact, you don't need to watch the movie to enjoy the music (good news for anyone still hoping to wiggle out of this weeper). Overall a warm, personal, and cleansing experience, like yoga for the brain.

Customer Reviews

Arguably one of the finest scores of the year

While not flawless, Howard's score is not only one of the best of the year, but it is also one of his finest score's to date. It is all the more impressive when one considers Howard was a last hour addition to the production, and the score was put together in a fraction of the time that would otherwise be available to a composer. There is a definite theme that can be found throughout the album, but it is varied enough, and used appropriately, so that it never feels like it is hitting you over the head. The Skull Island tracks tend to blend a bit, making it hard to discern one from the other, but they still sound great. "Tooth and Claw" and "Captured" are definite tracks to note. The true highlight tracks of this album are those that take place after Kong has been captured and taken to New York. The emotion that Howard evokes is genuine and powerful. One gets a real sense of the beautiful soul Jackson is striving to show within Kong through the soundtrack (simply listen to "Central Park" and you will know what I am talking about). The final five tracks, "Beauty Killed the Beast I-V," are amazing individual pieces, but when put together they create a musical experience that is one of the finest I have ever had the privilege of hearing. Standout tracks: 12. "Tooth and Claw" 14. "Captured" 15. "Central Park" -- If you purchase only one track, this should be it 16. "Empire State Building" 17-21. "Beauty Killed the Beast" parts I-V

Extremely Impressive

I knew that JNH had been sent in as a replacement to Howard Shore - who's score was rejected by Peter Jackson. I also know that JNH had little over 3 weeks to complete the score and so naturally, I expected a fairly straight-forward average score. I was very wrong. This score is very inspired, exciting, dark, and just generally outstanding. The action cues are so exciting, really impressive - and the orchestration is absolutely exquisite. The 5 finale cues are extremely intense and the last two cues are so beautiful and sad. This is a great score! Get it now!


This is the best soundtrack of the year and King Kong is the best film of the year. I highly recommend both the film and the score. P.S. (If you like James Newton Howard's work I also recommend the Batman Begins soundtrack and the Signs soundtrack.)


Born: June 9, 1951 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist, producer, and composer James Newton Howard scored over 60 films beginning in the mid-'80s, including The Fugitive, The Prince of Tides, Pretty Woman, Glengarry Glen Ross, Batman Begins, Michael Clayton, and the Hunger Games series. Howard began taking classical piano lessons at the age of four, playing on a piano owned by his grandmother, who was the Pittsburgh Symphony's concertmaster and violinist during the 1930s and '40s. He went on to study at the USC School of Music and at the Music...
Full Bio
King Kong (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), James Newton Howard
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