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Soundtracking: Lion King

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Entries in Soundtracking (55)

Wednesday
Jun202018

Soundtracking: "The Lion King"

by Chris Feil

When The Lion King arrived in 1994, it felt like the first Disney film fully developed in its post-Little Mermaid resurrected era. Whereas the genius of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin feel like passion projects born of new financial fluidity, this film rings like a triumphant self-actualization of its return to dominance. It’s right there in the in the rising sun and thunderous opening incantation of “Circle of Life” - Disney reclaiming with force what they had lost and owning the cyclical nature of creative power.

It’s arresting stuff on a meta level, but that’s still incomparable to the song’s visceral gut level impact. Paired with the imagery of a convening animal kingdom both too fantastical to be true and rendered with breathtaking reality, “Circle of Life” feels so monumental that even immersive IMAX screens and sound systems can’t do its scale justice...

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Wednesday
Jun132018

Soundtracking: "Love, Simon"

by Chris Feil

Love, Simon is chasing the ghost of John Hughes, a brand of uplift where teen woes are packaged conventionally and without condescension for maximum warm fuzzies. Naturally that package must include an anthemic sound, music that connects with the generation it depicts and becomes part of the fabric of what we remember about the film. But if Love, Simon is supposed to be a gay alternative on Hughesian comedy, does the sound also have its gay twist?

Simon’s signature sound comes from Jack Antonoff and his band Bleachers, bookending the film. Instead of the singular force of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” as Hughes employed in The Breakfast Club, it’s more like the film uses Antonoff as the artist to hang its headphones on instead of one song. He’s a straight musician, but Bleachers is fairly embraced by the queer teen set - at least the kind that the film depicts. Though in an age where Troye Sivan can produce hit bops about bottoming, is that really enough for the film to define itself musically?

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Wednesday
Jun062018

Soundtracking: "Muriel's Wedding"

by Chris Feil

It’s a sad truth that the closest thing we’ve gotten to Toni Collette starring in a screen musical is Muriel’s Wedding (and Connie and Carla, but that's for another day). The forgotten half-truth is that it isn’t the only screen ABBA musical. Sure, Mamma Mia! actually features full blown singing and dancing, but just because Muriel’s Wedding’s musicality exists in the daydreaming of its heroine, that doesn’t mean we’re spared the delights of a slew ABBA’s biggest hits. But the tunes are so crucial to the film’s identity and omnipresent throughout that it’s a huge missed opportunity that Muriel’s inevitable stage adaptation will never be the ABBA jukebox musical that could have been.

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Wednesday
May302018

Soundtracking: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"

by Chris Feil

Perhaps you missed that John Cameron Mitchell finally returned to the punk rock scene this past weekend with How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and honestly - what gives? Regardless of this Neil Gaiman adaptation’s quality, has everyone faded from the afterglow of Hedwig and the Angry Inch so quickly? (Mitchell's promise that the film is joining The Criterion Collection later this year should fix that.)

Mitchell has given us one of the most unique musicals of the past quarter century, so any return to musical adjacency (National Anthem or otherwise) deserves our attention. Or maybe the distinctive qualities of Hedwig make comparisons - its weathered reductive comparisons to every recent rock musical you can think of - a losing battle...

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Wednesday
May232018

Soundtracking: "Burlesque"

by Chris Feil

Much as we love it, isn’t Burlesque one of our least distinct recent original musicals? The genre is no stranger to borrowing tropes that have worked in the past and Burlesque is no exception - dreams of stardom, vague romance, putting on a show to save the barn. The real culprit here the film’s mishmash assemblage of tunes, populated with high peaks and easily ignored plains.

But I should shut up because really: who cares? It’s Cher, bitch!

And oft repeated quotables aside, the presence of a singing and dancing Cher on screen is a now rare delight that shouldn’t be taken for granted (soak up those Mamma Mia! 2 rays of sunshine this July, kids). Some are quick to forget that Cher is always in on the joke, or that her lack of pretension makes opulence where more self-serious performers would be trapped in chintziness...

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Wednesday
May162018

Soundtracking: "Inside Llewyn Davis"

by Chris Feil

"I don’t see a lot of money here."

With that cold, unfeeling line, F. Murray Abraham’s notorious club owner dismisses Oscar Isaac’s Llewyn Davis after a crucial impromptu audition. In so few words, he communicates that both Llewyn’s hard times and the commodification of his art form are here to stay.

After a taxing hitchhike from New York City on the promise of this gamechanger opportunity, the forever beleaguered Llewyn finagles his way into this audition and performs “The Death of Queen Jane”. The bitterness of Inside Llewyn Davis calms for Isaac’s crystalline vocals...

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