2010: The Year We Make Contact

2010: The Year We Make ContactIt takes some nerve to try to follow up on a legend whether you’re talking about movies or music, but in this case it’s a double whammy: music for a sequel to an all-time classic movie – a movie which defied convention by taking a pass on an outstanding work-in-progress Alex North score in favor of existing classical and avant-garde choral works. As if 2001 itself wasn’t hard enough to follow up on, how could its sequel’s music hope to compete with the likes of Ligeti and Kachaturian and “The Blue Danube”?

The answer, of course, is that it couldn’t. Composer David Shire didn’t even worry about that, and set about creating a largely electronic score that would fit this movie. (He also wasn’t the first to try: Tony Banks of Genesis almost landed this film as his first movie scoring project, but director Peter Hyams disliked the demos Banks submitted.) Shire’s instincts couldn’t have been more correct. His music from 2010 fits the film’s more modern-action-adventure approach perfectly, while also servicing the story’s need for some mystery and menace. Sure, some of the synth work dates itself – it’s a film score that definitely sounds like it’s from a film released in 1984, though some of those synth-only cues are marvelous: the “Bowman” track never fails to make the hair on the back of my neck tingle. But there are also some awe-inspiring orchestral passages toward the end that not only defy the challenge to follow up on 2001‘s classical repertoire – they take the gutsy move of dovetailing with it, as one climactic cue builds up beautifully to a reprise of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. That epic-length final cue, “Nova” / “New Worlds” / “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, is just about worth the cost of admission alone.

Note that I say “just about,” and with good reason. 2010 was treated to only the briefest of CD releases upon the movie’s general release, way back in the year that Reagan won his second term in office. As a result, there’s a built-in rarity factor that tends to jack the price of 2010 on CD way up – to the tune of almost a hundred dollars for the original U.S. release CD in good shape. It’s a bit unfair, and the 2010 soundtrack is urgently in need of a re-release, even if it’s only as a Film Score Monthly private label pressing; some foreign labels have re-released it more recently. The cassette is easier to get one’s hands on, and in any case, it’s a movie soundtrack worth hearing. Whether or not it’s worth 4 out of 4a C-note to hear it, on the other hand, is really in the eye of the beholder.

You’ll notice that we didn’t mention the Andy Summers single version of “2010” here. And if you hear it, you’ll notice there’s a reason for that. You’ll also be longing for the days of Meco covering Star Wars.

Order this CD

  1. 2010 by Andy Summers (5:14)
  2. Earth / Space (3:15)
  3. Probe (4:15)
  4. Bowman (1:46)
  5. Reactivating Discovery (2:24)
  6. Space Linkup / Earth Fallout (3:58)
  7. Visitation / Countdown (5:44)
  8. Nova / New worlds / Also Sprach Zarathustra (6:26)
  9. New Worlds: Theme From 2010 (2:31)

Released by: A&M
Release date: 1984
Total running time: 36:03