Human Target – music by Bear McCreary

Based on the comic of the same name, Fox’s TV series Human Target may have already set a record: according to Variety, its music was recorded by the largest orchestra assembled for an American TV series in well over ten years. Human Target isn’t a terribly high-profile project, and Fox doesn’t reach deep into its pockets for no reason; that huge orchestra was hired because of the acclaimed composer handling the music: Battlestar Galactica alumnus Bear McCreary. It’s a pretty good bet that McCreary’s name is what got this music released, too: Warner Bros. Watertower Music label released two CDs worth of music as a digital download, while McCreary’s home label La-La Land Records unleashed a 1,200 copy run of a 3-CD set covering everything in Watertower’s digital release and then some, including a few work-in-progress sketches created as precursors to the orchestral sessions.

McCreary’s music is flat-out, unabashed action music of a kind that hasn’t been heard since John Williams was in the business of scoring every blockbuster that wasn’t assigned to Jerry Goldsmith. There are, in fact, a few passages of music that bring Star Wars instantly to mind. McCreary establishes the Human Target theme up front in the extended version of the main titles, and uses it as a motif in many, if not most, of the cues from the show’s episodes. Other themes begin to recur for the show’s ensemble of characters.

And if you’re wondering if it makes any difference that this music was recorded by the largest orchestra to record TV music in ages, fear not – you can tell. The balls-to-the-wall action scenes have the kind of full-blooded feel that samples and synths just can’t quite cut (at least not without sounding like a wall of synths). There are still some synthesizers in the mix, along with the usual suspects (i.e. Oingo Boingo alum Steve Bartek on guitar) and the kind of big percussion for which McCreary became known on Galactica, but the orchestra is front and center in the mix. (And for the record, it really doesn’t sound anything like Galactica.)

The show itself failed to grab me, but I continue to find myself humming bits of the soundtrack here and there, occasionally from episodes I didn’t even see. A major turnover of behind-the-scenes personnel between Human Target’s two seasons on the air left both 4 out of 4its original showrunner and McCreary out in the cold, and there seems to be little disagreement that the result was something less watchable (which eventually led to its cancellation) and certainly less listenable. And it’s perhaps just as well: the quality of McCreary’s work makes every released soundtrack a calling card, and it can’t be too long before steady feature work is more prominent than TV scoring on his resume, because this is big-screen-worthy music.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Theme from ‘Human Target’ (long version) (1:31)
  2. Skydive (5:19)
  3. No Threats (4:17)
  4. Military Camp Rescue (4:37)
  5. Motorcycle Escape (5:29)
  6. Monastery in the Mountains (1:41)
  7. Paint a Bullseye (2:19)
  8. The Katherine Walters File (4:30)
  9. Switching Sides (6:09)
  10. This is Awkward (2:11)
  11. The Russian Embassy (3:32)
  12. The Devil’s Mouth (1:21)
  13. Ice Cubes (2:05)
  14. Allyson’s Past (3:05)
  15. Flipping the Plane (10:53)
  16. Driving Away (0:48)
  17. Airborne and Lethal (3:34)
  18. Chance’s Old Boss (3:54)
  19. Old Chance (2:14)
  20. Skyhook Rescue (7:05)
  21. Into the West (1:35)

    Disc Two

  22. New York City Arrival (1:52)
  23. Train Fight (3:33)
  24. Baptiste (2:39)
  25. Tango Fight (1:27)
  26. Maria and Chance (2:35)
  27. Katherine’s Killer (4:10)
  28. Confronting Baptiste (8:51)
  29. Courthouse Brawl (5:09)
  30. Stop Running (3:08)
  31. Not a Pacifist (0:46)
  32. Bullet Train (1:56)
  33. Gondola (8:43)
  34. An Old Life (3:21)
  35. Lockdown (5:02)
  36. A Bottle of Japanese Whisky (1:34)
  37. Victoria (3:29)
  38. The New Champion (5:56)
  39. Emma Barnes (3:10)
  40. Stephanie’s Ring (1:50)
  41. Port Yard Deaths (2:52)
  42. The New Christopher Chance (6:34)
  43. Theme from ‘Human Target’ [Short version] (0:40)

    Disc Three

  44. Flight Attendant Wilson (0:49)
  45. Round One (3:25)
  46. Emma’s Bra (2:24)
  47. Maria Gallego (1:58)
  48. Afraid in Alaska (1:21)
  49. Guerrero and Sergei (2:51)
  50. Chance Takes the Job (0:54)
  51. Tracking Device (3:03)
  52. The Black Room (1:41)
  53. Fighting Kendrick Taylor (1:27)
  54. Bertram (6:59)
  55. Sparring Guerrero (1:46)
  56. Scar Stories (3:35)
  57. Danny’s Killer (2:42)
  58. Chaos in the Cockpit (5:49)
  59. A Mistake (0:50)
  60. Chance’s Theme (Sketch Version 1) (1:17)
  61. Chance’s Theme (Sketch Version 2) (1:44)
  62. Katherine’s Theme (Solo Piano Version) (1:48)
  63. Theme from Human Target (Alternate Short Version) (0:38)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Disc one total running time: 78:16
Disc two total running time: 79:23
Disc three total running time: 47:11