Survivor – music by Russ Landau & David Vanacore

Survivor“Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made.” The classic line from Spaceballs seems to be appropriate here. Even while the Survivor series was airing, you could order bags and T-shirts with the Survivor logo or sayings like, “The Tribe has spoken”, “Don’t vote me off”, and “Tastes like chicken.” Some even organized Survivor-themed parties, complete with Tiki torches. So, it was inevitable that the music CD would be released. But is it worth it?

If you are a fan of the series, the answer is a resounding yes. This CD contains most of musical themes that were used in the series. While most of the CD sticks with a tropical theme (dare I say World Beat or New Age?) that matches the setting of the series, it does divert on occasion to an occasional techno beat or an Asian theme.

The familiar themes are all there. We have two versions of “Ancient Voices” music which was used during the opening credits, and which is instantly recognizable as being “This Is Survivor”. Another familiar theme is the “Survivor Yell”, which was played at the beginning of each episode to recap the events of previous episodes. And, yet another theme, “Tally The Vote”, was very familiar during tribal council portion of each episode. The other music was played as background during the show.

From listening to this CD, I was reminded of how much music plays a role in a show. I have the funny feeling that if I turned off the volume during the show, it would have appeared to be a boring vacation video. But, with the volume on, the music became part of the story telling. It set the mood of the moment, heightened the emotions of what was going on, or punctuating certain moments. The simple act of extinguishing the torch of a voted-off survivor, as told by the music, became WHAM! Game Over, followed by a tinge of sadness. That’s good sound editing.

However, I also got the sense that there were also budget constraints involved with the music of this show. After listening to this CD several times, I got the sense that at some points, it was someone who was working 4 out of 4on a synthesizer generating the music, sometimes working against a production deadline. In this case, it works in the show’s favor.

There is no doubt that changes are in store for the music for Survivor II: Australian Outback. The tropic theme won’t work there, but there will no doubt be an aboriginal theme.

Order this CD

  1. Ancient Voices (Extended)
  2. New Frontier
  3. Big Drama
  4. Explorer
  5. I Can See It
  6. My Tribe
  7. Chase Race
  8. The Strong Will Survive
  9. Survivor Yell
  10. Confrontation
  11. Snake Island
  12. Mud Bath
  13. Buzzed
  14. Island Council
  15. Rituals
  16. Voices Of Heaven
  17. Gold
  18. Tally The Vote
  19. Ancient Voices (Main Title Theme)

Released by: TVT Records
Release date: 2000
Total running time: 64:01

Mulan – music by Jerry Goldsmith

Mulan soundtrackAfter some less-than-exceptional animation releases such as 1995’s Pocahontas (which I was turned off by the commercials alone) and 1996’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (which I found depressing), Disney managed to recover some of its lost magic with 1998’s hit Mulan. This movie is based upon an ancient Chinese poem about girl named Fa Mulan who, when her father is called into service to defend the China against the Huns, steals her father’s armor and goes into her father’s place by pretending to be a man, and ends up becoming a legend.

The music in this film is quite good. Jerry Goldsmith provides the score for most of the movie, while Matthew Wilder provides the music and David Zippel provides the lyrics for the (mercifully few) four songs that are played in the first part of the movie. (“True To Your Heart” and “Reflection” are, I believe, played during the end credits.) Both Matthew and Jerry make use of woodwind instruments, and give the music a somewhat Oriental feel while not alienating western audiences.

However, as much as I enjoyed the music and the movie, I found the CD lacking. One of the pieces of music when Mulan decides to join the army, prays to her ancestors, takes her father’s armor, cuts her hair, and rides off into the night was missing – yet it was one of the most dramatic pieces of music in the movie.

4 out of 4The booklet included with the CD includes the lyrics to the songs, along with a photograph from the movie relating to each song.

In conclusion, if you enjoyed the movie, you might enjoy this CD, but expect some missing pieces.

Order this CD

  1. Honor to Us All (Song) (3:03)
  2. Reflection (Song) (2:27)
  3. I’ll Make a Man Out of You (Song) (3:21)
  4. A Girl Worth Fighting For (Song) (2:26)
  5. True To Your Heart (Single) (4:16)
  6. Suite from Mulan (7:06)
  7. Attack At The Wall (Score) (4:59)
  8. Mulan’s Decision (Score) (3:23)
  9. Blossoms (Score) (6:27)
  10. The Huns Attack (Score) (4:30)
  11. The Burned-Out Village (Score) (5:53)
  12. Reflection (Pop Version) (3:36)

Released by: Disney Music
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 51:34

Men In Black: The Score – music by Danny Elfman

Men In Black soundtrackIf you were as disappointed by Men In Black: The Album as I was, then maybe, this CD should be renamed Men In Black: The Apology. As it is, you will probably have a hard time finding it at the store. Here is a helpful hunt: The Album CD has a picture of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith on the cover and “VARIOUS ARTISTS” on the CD seal, while The Score has MIB prominently on the cover with J and K standing in the I. Even the store clerk at Tower Records was confused, and handed me the album instead of the score.

Anyways, after several months of waiting, and they even missed releasing this CD by the time the Men In Black video was released in late 1997, this CD contains what the MIB movie fan was probably wanting — the complete music score by the talented Danny Elfman. It is indeed worth the wait, as the complete music score from the movie is included. If 4 out of 4you turn up the volume, you will even hear some audio hints and cues that may have been overlooked in the movie. Well done, Danny Elfman.

The booklet is minimalist, giving the track listings, CD credits, and the “little dude in the big dude’s head.” 😉

Order this CD

  1. M.I.B. Main Theme (2:58)
  2. D’s Memories/Chase (3:57)
  3. Edgar’s Truck/A New Man (2:58)
  4. Imports/Quiet Moment (2:22)
  5. J Contemplates (1:18)
  6. Headquarters (1:13)
  7. The Suit (1:28)
  8. Morgue Time (0:48)
  9. Petit Mort (1:42)
  10. K Reminisces (0:48)
  11. Orion’s Belt/Cat Stinger (2:18)
  12. Noisy Cricket/Impending Trouble (2:08)
  13. Sexy Morgue Babe/Icon (5:41)
  14. Take Off/Crash (7:20)
  15. Finale (3:02)
  16. M.I.B. Closing Theme (2:38)

Released by: Sony
Release date: 1997
Total running time: 42:43

Raiders Of The Lost Ark – music by John Williams

Raiders Of The Lost Ark soundtrackOne of the better (not to mention fun) movies during the early 1980s was Raiders Of The Lost Ark. This Steven Spielberg / George Lucas co-production turned out to be one of the biggest hits of 1981, and the film was later nominated for Oscars in Best Picture, not to mention spawning numerous imitators as well as two sequels: Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

The music played a key role in this film, and John Williams provided an excellent score for this film, also earning a nomination for (but not winning) an Oscar for best score. The soundtrack was released as an album, and in 1995, was re-released on CD with additional music not included in the album. The music was re-mastered for the CD pressing from the original two-track stereo master tapes, and it sounds great… not a crack or pop to be heard.

Also, of note, for a CD that only costs $12.99, it includes a full color booklet containing several photographs 4 out of 4and production sketches from the movies, introduction by Steven Spielberg, comments from John Williams about various bits, and a analysis and a track-by-track commentary by Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly.

If you enjoyed the film as much as I did, and enjoyed the music, then the soundtrack is a must-have for your collection.

Order this CD

  1. The Raiders March (2:50)
  2. Main Title: South America, 1936 (4:10)
  3. In the Idol’s Temple (5:26)
  4. Flight from Peru (2:20)
  5. Journey to Nepal (2:11)
  6. The Medallion (2:55)
  7. To Cairo (1:29)
  8. The Basket Game (5:04)
  9. The Map Room: Dawn (3:52)
  10. Reunion and The Dig Begins (4:10)
  11. The Well of the Souls (5:28)
  12. Airplane Fight (4:37)
  13. Desert Chase (8:15)
  14. Marion’s Theme (2:08)
  15. The German Sub / To The Nazi Hideout (4:32)
  16. Ark Trek (1:33)
  17. The Miracle of the Ark (6:08)
  18. The Warehouse (:56)
  19. End Credits (5:20)

Released by: Digital Compact Classics
Release date: 1981 (re-released on CD in 1995)
Total running time: 73:32

Men In Black: The Album

Men In Black: The AlbumAvoid this CD at all costs. Especially if you hate rap music.

I have never been so disappointed in a CD purchase as I was with this CD. While Men In Black was enjoying its success in the theaters, this CD was released to the stores. And, despite having the name Men In Black (plus Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones on the cover), outside of the first track and the last two tracks, this mostly rap album pays only passing reference to the movie. The only tracks worth listening to are Will Smith’s “Men In Black” on track one (which, if you own the video, you already have it), and the opening and closing themes by Danny Elfman (which are also part of Men In Black: The Score).

1 out of 4The CD insert is a long strip, with photos on one side of the strip, and credits for each song on the other side.

If you enjoyed the movie, skip this CD and get Men In Black: The Score instead.

Order this CD

  1. Men In Black (3:45, performed by Will Smith)
  2. We Just Wanna Party With You (4:32, performed by Snoop Doggy Dogg featuring JD)
  3. I’m Feeling You (4:40, performed by Ginuwine)
  4. Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing) (4:11, performed by Alicia Keys)
  5. Just Cruisin’ (3:59, performed by Will Smith)
  6. The ‘Notic (5:20, performed by The Roots featuring D’Angelo)
  7. Make You Happy (4:06, performed by Trey Lorenz)
  8. Escobar ’97 (3:31, performed by NAS)
  9. Erotic City (4:34, performed by Emoja)
  10. Same Ol’ Thing (4:27, performed by A Tribe Called Quest)
  11. Killing Time (5:07, performed by Destiny’s Child)
  12. Waiting For Love (3:46, performed by 3T)
  13. Chanel No. Fever (3:23, performed by De La Soul)
  14. Some Cow Fonque (More Tea Vicar?) (5:09, performed by Buckshot LeFonque)
  15. M.I.B. Main Theme (2:58, written and produced by Danny Elfman)
  16. M.I.B. Closing Theme (2:37, written and produced by Danny Elfman)

Released by: Sony
Release date: 1997
Total running time: 66:05