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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Album Review

From the fanfare of the opening crawl to the abrupt cutaway zing of the closing credits, John Williams' soundtrack to The Force Awakens does not disappoint. Williams has always been an integral part of the Star Wars experience, as familiar as the movies themselves, comforting and nostalgic. The fan anticipation and legacy baggage that came with the seventh film in this iconic series was overwhelming, being the first new film since 2005's Revenge of the Sith and the direct sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi, yet the results are not crushed by outlandish pressure. For The Force Awakens, Williams began work in late 2014, before recording began in Los Angeles in June 2015 (the first time a Star Wars film score was not recorded at Abbey Road). He enlisted a freelance orchestra and, with the help of William Ross and Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, produced a 23-track journey connecting the past and the future of the Star Wars universe. Here, Williams combines the old and the new with expert subtlety, creating a lush experience that rewards repeat listens. Those familiar with his work on other big-budget sagas (Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones) will instantly recognize the blaring horns that propel the action, the stirring strings that intensify the tension, and the bombast that contribute to the excitement as much as the scenes portrayed on the screen. Fans young and old will recognize the famous themes from the original trilogy that are alluded to throughout the album: the Star Wars theme pops up in "The Rathtars!" and a glimmer of Luke Skywalker's "The Force Theme" can be heard during "Maz's Counsel." As the nostalgic centerpiece to the film, Han and Leia's touching romantic melody makes a return (one of Solo's other big loves gets a nod on "The Falcon"). Although Williams created new themes for villain Kylo Ren and for the new good guy group, the Resistance, one theme stands out as the best since The Phantom Menace's iconic "Duel of the Fates." The theme for Star Wars' new female protagonist, Rey is first introduced on "The Scavenger" before receiving the full treatment on "Rey's Theme" and being whisked off in grand fashion during "Farewell and the Trip." Mysterious and touching, it starts with a playful flute melody and celeste chimes before swelling with confident strings and full orchestration. Less heavy-handed than the rest of the score, this theme is the most memorable of the bunch, a perfect combination of strength and delicacy. As the saga continues (Disney scheduled a new Star Wars film each year until 2020), Williams proves himself an indelible part of the Star Wars universe. ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi

Customer Reviews

No Iconic Themes

The soundtrack is serviceable at best, but is is missing the “theme” that should accompany every Star Wars movie. For instance; in Empire we had a plethora of themes; The Battle of Hoth, The Imperial March, Yoda’s Theme, The Asteroid Chase, Han and Leia’s Theme, The Cloud City Theme.. see where I’m going with this? The music was good but there was nothing “hummable” from the soundtrack except the revised themes from the original trilogy.

If I may be so bold to say; the prequels got one thing right, and that was the music. I guess I was just expecting more.

This sounds hideous

It's just so silent I can't hear anything but it's innovative gives you the real experience of what space sounds like

Ignore Everyone who gives this a Bad Rating

Some people are complaining about John Williams’ score not having a “memorable” theme, this is not necessarily true. What the music lacks in “epicness,” it retains in technicality and thematic focus. A score like Williams’ own “Revenge of the Sith” had, like, 5 choral pieces; it sounded “epic,” yes, but it was also missing a bit of cohesiveness because there weren’t any new reoccurring identities just new choral music and action bits [which is fine, it worked for that film]. With “The Force Awakens,” Williams introduces musical ideas for Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, the Resistance, and, of course, Rey, as well as utilizing familiar themes from the previous scores [which makes sense because the film features a return of familiar cast members]. Rey’s theme is beautiful and it appears throughout the score—again, this did not happen in 2005’s Star Wars score. Kylo Ren’s theme can be heard on a number of tracks (and it provides good counterpoint at times) but IF that, somehow, doesn’t impress you… Well, there’s great reprisals of the Force theme, The Han Solo and Leia Love Theme, The Rebel Fanfare, Luke’s Theme aka Main Title, AND, on top of all that, Williams’ sophisticated writing is everything a Star Wars score should be: brassy, heroic, emotional, and fun. This notion that “The Force Awakens” score is somehow “weaker” or “disappointing” because it doesn’t have a Duel of Fates V 2.0 is rubbish for the Maestro continues proves that—as far as film music goes—there is no one at his level. That's not even an opinion at this point. Granted, “The Force Awakens” is not as strong as the original trilogy’s scores, but it is certainly stronger than at least two of the prequel scores despite lacking “that big epic awesome song.” For the people who are whining about how “only” the older themes stood out: (a) pay more attention and (b) personally, I haven’t heard the Rebel Fanfare sound so exciting since “A New Hope.”
P.S [1]: I did hear that Kylo Ren’s theme is ‘incomplete,’ if that makes sense, due to his character not being fully trained. Assuming it’s true, THAT is genius!
P.S [2]: The tracks, “Follow Me” and “The Falcon,” are supposed to be one. If you watch the film, they’re heard one right after the other. Not sure why “Rey’s Theme” was stuck between the two. Hope that helps a bit.
P.S [3]: Poe's theme is, sadly, only heard twice on this album (but it can be heard during one of the X Wing scenes in the film) on the "I Can Fly Anything" track and on 'Jedi Steps' end credits.

Biography

Born: February 8, 1932 in Flushing, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The most popular film composer of the modern era, John Williams created music for some of the most successful motion pictures in Hollywood history -- Star Wars, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are just four of the credits in his extensive oeuvre. Born February 8, 1932, in Floral Park, New York, he was the son of a movie studio musician, and he followed in his father's footsteps by studying music at UCLA and Juilliard; initially, he pursued a career as a jazz pianist, later...
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