Xena: Warrior Princess – music by Joseph LoDuca

Xena: Warrior PrincessSpun off from the popular syndicated action series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess was – at least at first – an attempt to tell a somewhat more serious story in some of the same settings. Hercules and Xena might run into each other and share the odd adventure, but generally Xena would be up against not only mythical foes and malevolent gods, but her own dark side and just a little bit more angst per weekly episode than Hercules had to endure. Having already established a very Korngoldian style for Hercules, composer Joseph LoDuca (of whom more in a bit) decided to give Xena a somewhat different sound. The result is a very interesting soundtrack from the show’s first season.

Though the Xena scores still wax bombastic at times in a style somewhere between Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s brassy, heraldic style and the Korngold-going-on-Wagner musical palette of John Williams, LoDuca applies an altogether more Mediterranean feel to the proceedings, complete with anguished female vocals and exotic instruments. The effect when seen against film is dramatic: it heightens the earthiness of the show’s equally exotic locations, and somehow it’s just easier to take the whole thing that much more seriously as a result. Highlights of the CD include “Soulmates”, “Xena and the Big Bird” (the musical cue for her later epic battle with the Cookie Monster was omitted for time), and from the pivotal episode Callisto, the best action music in the show’s entire history, “Ladder Fight”.

It’s that last cue which perhaps strikes the best balance between western and middle- eastern musical influences, with some awe-inspiring raging percussion keeping your pulse pounding (well, okay, my pulse at any rate, your mileage may vary), stings of both Korngold-style horns and Mediterranean instrumentation and vocals, and even some very interesting use of the Xena theme as leitmotif. Every fight scene for the rest of the show’s time on the air could’ve been tracked with this – it’s one of those pieces of music that’s just that hard to top.

I also have to offer some praise for the theme music – it too strikes a good balance between what would seem to be conflicting musical styles and sensibilities. The extended version of the theme that closes the album adds a little something extra that I don’t even recall hearing from the end credits, but the original arrangement is already strong enough – there’s a reason that this theme music was used, without any kind of amendments, for six years.

One final note: I’m uneasy who to attribute this album to; the cover art, as with the show, of course, credits everything to Joe LoDuca, who’s been collaborating with the Raimis on everything since Evil Dead. But more recent events have called that solitary composing credit into question: Dan Kolton, credited in the fine print here with “additional programming,” successfully sued for half of LoDuca’s performance 4 out of 4royalties on all of the music from Hercules and Xena, claiming that he had ghostwritten roughly half of the material without receiving credit (and therefore royalties). It doesn’t affect how the music sounds to me at all, mind you, but it’s a question of attribution that seems like it should be cleared up for the record.

It’s still an excellent soundtrack, whoever is responsible for it.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:15)
  2. The Warrior Princess (2:09)
  3. Darius (2:06)
  4. Soulmates (2:24)
  5. Burial (1:50)
  6. Xena And The Big Bird (2:27)
  7. Gabby Dance (1:00)
  8. The Gauntlet (1:38)
  9. Barn Blazers (2:21)
  10. Fight On The Heads (2:54)
  11. Draco’s Men (2:16)
  12. Glede Ma Glede (0:43)
  13. Burying The Past (2:59)
  14. Xena’s Web (2:12)
  15. Goodbye (2:49)
  16. Giants (2:37)
  17. Funeral Dance (1:35)
  18. Challenging The Gods (3:10)
  19. Dreamscape (3:01)
  20. Quarterman’s Festival (2:27)
  21. Roll In The Leaves (0:47)
  22. Funeral Pyre (1:24)
  23. On The Balcony (2:08)
  24. The Oracle (3:15)
  25. Hail Xena (1:35)
  26. Going To Kill Me (0:45)
  27. The Wrath Of Callisto (2:36)
  28. Bloodlust (2:25)
  29. Ladder Fight (4:44)
  30. Main Title (Extended Version) (1:22)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 65:54