Music Break: ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Themes by John Powell

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It’s been way too long since my last Music Break post and this is one I’ve been wanting to feature for a long time. Well tonight I’m going to How To Train Your Dragon 2 screening and it’s definitely a perfect time to feature this. I LOVE LOVE the first movie, which has become one of my all time favorite animated feature ever! In fact, I’ve watched my Blu-ray several times and I’ve always enjoyed it!

One of the best thing about the movie is the music! The soundtrack by John Powell is absolutely wonderful, it’s got that majestic feel to it whilst still retains its playfulness. What’s more, it’s actually a very moving score, I actually tear up sometimes when I listen to it. He collaborated with Icelandic musician Jónsi for this album. This Flying theme is my absolute favorite, I could imagine Hiccup and Toothless soaring to the sky as I’m listening to it.

Well, I’m thrilled that Mr. Powell is back doing the soundtrack for the second film! Well, it sounds just as great, it still retains some of the sounds from the first one. I love how lush this music is, I especially love this one called Beyond the Clouds, which I’m thinking is the flying sequence as well.

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I missed the theatrical release of the first movie, so I can’t wait to see this one, especially the flying sequence in its big screen glory!


What do you think of this soundtrack? Are you also anticipating the How To Train Your Dragon 2?

Music Break: The Artist’s Waltz for Peppy

Happy Friday everybody. Hope y’all had a nice Valentine’s Day yesterday.

I listen to Classical MPR radio on my commute to work and yesterday morning there were a lot of Valentine dedications and they’re playing some beautiful, sweeping waltzes. One of them is Waltz for Peppy from the gorgeous soundtrack of The Artist. Oh I just love that music so much I wish I could play it on repeat!

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Somehow I missed including George Valentin & Peppy Miller in my list of 14 favorite movie couples! So this is my way to make it up for them. I love this scene when Peppy auditions as a dancer and George spots her, and he then insists that she gets a part in Kinograph Studios’ next production, despite the studio boss’ objections.


Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo are simply sublime. Apparently director Michel Hazanavicius played music from classic Hollywood films throughout the shoot while the actors performed.

The soundtrack is composed by French composer Ludovic Bource and was recorded in Belgium by the Brussels Philharmonic. It has won pretty much every single film award that year, including BAFTA, César, Golden Globes, and the Oscar for Best original Score. The music is even more crucial and affecting the fact that it’s a silent film, and it fits the playful yet sweet tone of the film so perfectly.

I remember being absolutely enchanted by this film when I first saw it two years ago (I gave it a 5 star review). I haven’t seen it since. Listening to this makes me want to watch it again real soon.


Hope you enjoy today’s music. What do you think of The Artist?

Music Break: 1995 Sabrina’s Soundtrack

sabrina1995posterI just realized I haven’t done a Music Break since last November! Well I’m feeling rather melancholy tonight so I watched a little bit of the 1995 version of Sabrina. I adore this movie… it’s just sooo enchanting. It’s a modern-day Cinderella story of sort. Sabrina Fairchild, the chauffeur of the billionaire Larrabee family, is a bit of an ugly duckling whose sudden transformation into a beautiful woman end up standing in the way of a Billion dollar deal.

Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear are not what one would expect as the Larrabee brothers but both worked well here. Julia Ormond is lovely as Sabrina… gorgeous but vulnerable. People who love the original probably scoff that Ormond & Ford are no [Audrey] Hepburn & [Humphrey] Bogart, I think it’s a bit unfair. I thought Ford is perfect as the workaholic, a bit curmudgeon Linus who unexpectedly falls for the carefree Sabrina. And Kinnear is surprisingly charming and affable as the billionaire playboy David. They made those roles their own and they suit the time and era they’re in. Truth be told, after seeing the original, I actually enjoy this remake better [sorry Michael!]

I never get tired of this movie… Sydney Pollack‘s direction mixes drama and comedy deftly and boy does he have an eye for scenery. This movie is just gorgeous to look at, everything from the Larrabee estates to the streets of Paris where Sabrina took her long walks are exquisite shot.

But even more beautiful that the scenery is John Williams’ music. This theme song is one of my favorites from his extensive collection, definitely made my top ten scores from this genius composer. It’s so elegant, lush, mesmerizing… and also heartbreaking.

I love Sting’s voice and it works surprisingly well for Moonlight. I listen to this track often… it never fails to sweep me off my feet. Linus tells Sabrina “It’s as though a lovely breeze has swept through this whole house” And the song has that same quality to me… it’s just mesmerizing and the melody has such a timeless feel to it.

There is another song called How Can I Remember sung by Michael Dees that is lovely as well, and I love the moment La Vie en Rose was played as Sabrina recites the quote from Gertrude Stein “America is my country, and Paris is my home town.”

Williams composed this soundtrack two years after Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, two other favorites from his work. It’s amazing how he could make one iconic score after another. Even hearing just a couple of notes you instantly know what that music is and it’d take me back to that specific movie.

Sabrina was nominated for Best Original Music and Best Original Song (Moonlight) at the Oscars in 1995, but neither one won.


Hope you enjoyed the soundtrack. What’s your favorite score by John Williams?

Music Break – Favorite fairy tale music inspired by ABC’s ‘Once Upon A Time’

I just started catching up on the ABC show Once Upon A Time this past weekend, so that inspired me to pick the music for today’s Music Break. I’ve only watched two episodes from the first season but I quite like it so far, though some of the acting is a bit over the top. As someone growing up with Disney fairy tale movies, the premise appeals to me so we’ll see if the show has enough going for it to keep me interested. Nice to see Robert Carlyle in it as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. The Glasgow-native is easily the best actor on that show, and no I’m not just saying that for my penchant for Scottish actors 😉

Anyway, inspired by that show, here are three favorite fairy tale music from the classic and current fairy tale movies:

SNOW WHITE (1937)

You can’t beat the classics. Even 75 years later, Snow White is still hot property, what with two films made with that character this year alone! There are really too many to choose from as the whole soundtrack is great, but I love this finale of Love’s First Kiss. It’s enchanting, sweet and full of hope, the kind of stuff Disney music is known for, and the choir singing Someday my Prince will come really warms the heart.

Original music by Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith, with Adriana Caselotti and Harry Stockwell as the voice of Snow White and Prince Charming, respectively.


P.S. My all time favorite music from Disney ‘Princess’ movies is actually Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty, which I’ve highlighted in a stand alone post a year ago.

TANGLED (2010)

Tangled is Disney’s 50th animated feature and it boast the maestro that is Alan Menken as the composer. I grew up listening to his Disney songs, it’s amazing how he could keep churning up beautiful music for every piece that fits the theme of the film so perfectly! According to IMDb trivia, he’s currently tied with famed costume designer Edith Head for third most Academy Awards won, with eight Oscar win. He has won best score and best song for four Disney animated movies: The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) and Pocahontas (1995).

This romantic piece is by far my favorite from the film. I always tear up every time I watch it. The scenery with all those lanterns are pure Disney magic, I love Rapunzel’s face as she watches them fly to the sky. I LOVE both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi’s voice in the duet, I had no idea he could sing so well! I was rooting for this to win Best Original Song at the Oscar, but ironically, Randy Newman’s We Belong Together for Pixar’s Toy Story 3 ended up taking the trophy.

BRAVE (2012)

I was thrilled when I heard that Scottish composer Patrick Doyle was going to work on this film! I LOVE his work in Sense & Sensibility and Thor, among others (see my tribute post). Per Wiki, in order to bring some of Scotland’s native flavor to the music, Doyle used native Scottish instruments such as bagpipes, a solo fiddle, Celtic harps, flutes and the bodhrán, with an electronically treated dulcimer and cimbalom to give it a more contemporary feel. “I employed many classic Scottish dance rhythms such as reels, jigs, and strathspeys, which not only serve the action but keep it authentic,” said Doyle.

Well the result is a gorgeous and lush Celtic music that adds so much to the authenticity of the film. I like the joyful and rousing Touch The Sky that matches the exuberance of Princess Merida, but my favorite is the instrumental piece that captures the Scottish theme so well. I LOVE this one called Legends Are Lessons, especially after the 2:35 mark when the bagpipes start playing. I wish I could be transported to the Scottish Highlands as I’m listening to it! 😀


I hope you enjoy these songs. What are YOUR favorite Disney/Pixar soundtrack?

Top Five Favorite Andy Williams Songs

A piece of sad news came over the radio waves this morning as I heard that legendary crooner Andy Williams passed away after a year-long battle with bladder cancer at the age of 84.

My mother was a huge fan of his music, along with other popular vocalists in the 60s and 70s like Frank Sinatra, Matt Monro, etc. so I grew up listening to his songs. There might have been at least a half dozen Andy Williams CDs at my house, and every Christmas, his holiday album would be a staple.

His photos in his album covers always show a warm, inviting smile… on top of being one of the world’s greatest singers, the Iowa-born gentleman is also a natural entertainer. No wonder his TV variety show aptly titled The Andy Williams Show was a huge success, it ran for almost a decade from 1962 – 1971. If it were around now I’d sure be watching that as he often showcased fellow singing legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, etc. His charming, easy-going personality made him the perfect host for a variety of award shows like the Grammys, the Golden Globes, etc. which he did a few times.

I LOVE his high baritone voice, it’s just so beautiful and soothing to listen to. Somehow his vibrant, genial personality always come through his songs, whether it’s an upbeat tune or a more melancholy one.

A lot of his songs have been used time and time again in various films. Hi signature song is of course Moon River, one of my personal favorites that got a lot of play in my house growing up. The song from Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) won an Oscar for Best Original Song and Mr. Williams sang the song during the Oscar ceremony.

As a tribute to the music legend, here are five of my favorite songs:


A Time for Us


Can’t Get Used to Loving You


Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You


It’s The Most Wonderful Time in the World


Moon River



So what’s YOUR favorite Andy Williams’ song(s)?

Music Break: John William’s iconic Superman theme

The worst thing about the Man of Steel movie is how long the wait it. The movie isn’t scheduled to arrive until June 14, 2013. Bah, that’s a year away, so right now, I’d be happy if I’d see a trailer, which will likely arrive around Comic-Con in two weeks, yay! I’d love to see if the rumor about the Kryptonian war possibly playing a big part in the movie (per GeekTyrant) is true or not. Is that why they hired Maximus as Jor-El? 🙂

Anyway, we’re here to talk about the music and this post was sparked by the news I heard last week that Hans Zimmer will be scoring the Zack Snyder’s movie. Now, with Christopher Nolan being one of the producers, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by Zimmer’s involvement. Zimmer’s worked on four of Nolan’s movies: all three of the Batman films and Inception.

I’m a big fan of the German’s composer’s work, as I’ve outlined in my top five list from last year. He’s certainly done a lot of great scores in the past, but even a composer of his caliber should realize the daunting task ahead of him. In this FirstShowing article, he’s quoted as saying

You are allowed to reinvent, but you have to try to be as good or at least as iconic and it has to resonate and it has to become a part of the zeitgeist. That’s the job.

Photo courtesy of capedwonder.com/music

So he obviously realized that with John Williams has created one of the most iconic scores in the history of cinema, at least as far as superhero movies are concerned.

In last year’s Hero Complex Film Festival, Donner talked about how he got to work with John Williams, which was recommended by Steven Spielberg. It’s interesting how that came to be as Williams initially wasn’t available due to another project (it might have been Close Encounter of the Third Kind), so Jerry Goldsmith, who scored Donner’s The Omen, was hired. But then the schedule was pushed back again and Donner lost Goldsmith, but Williams became available. Talk about fate, eh?

Upon hearing the Superman theme for the first time, he said he was thunderstruck. “I couldn’t believe it, tears to my eyes…” Donner told Geoff Boucher, “He’s a genius, he’s a genius.” Donner even said in the interview that if we listened to the music very carefully, it’s almost as if you could hear the music say the word Superman. It’s like the music itself has superpowers!

Let’s take a listen at that wonderful rousing score right now…

I also adore the LOVE THEME of Superman which has romantic and sweeping feel to it, but still as majestic as the main theme. The Can You Read My Mind sequence is just hard to top, with Margot Kidder reciting the lyrics… she pretty much sums up how every young girl feels watching that scene, wishing it was us in Lois’ place 😉

Now, even though I think Zimmer is brilliant, I really don’t know how anyone could top that score. I feel that I think Snyder and Nolan should somehow keep the March theme, at least during Superman’s first flying sequence. I mean, this score is practically as inseparable as James Bond’s theme with 007 movies. I know Bryan Singer did use part of the score in Superman Returns, so it’d be weird to see Superman flying without that iconic score.


So what say you folks? Do you think John William’s Superman theme should be use in Man of Steel? Let’s hear it.

Music Break: Casino Royale Score (City of Lovers)

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s been over a month since my last music break, and I definitely could use one today.

As a preview to our monthly Bond post coming next week, I feel like highlighting one of my favorite Bond scores. I’ve posted my top five Bond title songs, but as far as main scores go, this one is definitely on the top of my list. So much so that it’s one of the twelve piece of music I wish I have with me if I were to be stranded on a desert island. I might as well bring the Blu-ray too, it’s not just a great Bond film, it’s a great film, period.

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The whole soundtrack is splendid, but City of Lovers is by far my favorite. It’s a love theme of sort as it’s played during the scene when Bond and Vesper arrives in Venice. It’s an impossibly gorgeous day and Bond has just typed in his resignation. He’s a man in love. But we know that such blissful state is short-lived and there is something hauntingly melancholic in this score… yet the soothing, elegant strings has that buoyant effect that gets me every time.


What I love about this score is that it sounds a lot like the classic John Barry’s Bond themes of the 60s and 70s, but there’s something fresh and edgy about ’em. So it’s no surprise that composer David Arnold is apparently a big fan of the Bond franchise, AND of Barry’s work. In fact, it’s Barry who recommended Arnold to Barbara Broccoli for Tomorrow Never Dies, having been impressed with his Bond-related project called Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project. (per Wiki) Since then the English composer has worked on the scores for two other Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, this one and Quantum of SolaceI do think this is the best and most memorable soundtrack since Barry left the franchise.

I’m looking forward to what Thomas Newman will bring to the table with Skyfall. He’s worked numerous times with director Sam Mendes in American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road. Meanwhile, Arnold will be working on the score for the opening ceremony for this year’s Summer Olympics in London.


Are you a fan of Casino Royale‘s soundtrack? Please share YOUR favorite Bond score.