The Case of the 80s Dance Flick

It’s the final episode of June Tunes and we decided to focus on dance movies of the 1980s! You’ll notice, however, that we also included Saturday Night Fever in this episode even though it came out in 1977. We felt like we couldn’t talk about dance films without at least mentioning the iconic movie that essentially created a genre of film.

This episode is more relaxed than our previous music episodes, as we share our thoughts on a small list of famous dance movies! We thought this might be a fun way to close out the month of June.


Saturday Night Fever

  • This movie blended film and music in such a successful way, it inspired many movies to come
    • This film showed movie studios that they could more effectively capitalize on popular music of the time and paved the way for dance movies of the next 10 years
  • It shot John Travolta to superstardom in 1977, one year before Grease, although he had previously appeared on “Welcome Back, Kotter”
  • The soundtrack was filled with BeeGees songs, and it became unclear whether the movie was fueling the popularity of the music, or the other way around
    • The movie marks the rise and fall of Disco music, as it kept Disco in the spotlight for a few more years
  • The BeeGees wrote the songs for the movie AFTER the movie was shot, meaning all the dance scenes were shot with characters dancing to other music like Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs
    • They repurposed “Stayin’ Alive” which was just a demo at the time of filming, so it’s the only song that John Travolta was moving to while filming
  • Tony (John Travolta) is a paint store clerk who wants to break out of his everyday life
    • Dancing at the club helps him face the harsh realities of his life like his dead-end job and squabbling parents
  • The movie is based on the article: Tribal Rites of the new Saturday Night, which was a fabricated story by Nik Cohn
    • The article was meant to chronicle the disco dance scene, which Cohn was unfamiliar with, so he wrote a mostly fictional account on which the movie is based

Flashdance (1983)

  • “What a Feeling” by Irene Cara won an Oscar for best music/original score
    • It also hit #1 in the US for 6 weeks
    • In June the soundtrack released and stayed #1 for 2 weeks interrupting Michael Jackson’s Thriller which would come back to #1 only to be dethroned later by the Footloose album
    • In September, Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” also took #1
  • Based loosely around the life of real life welder and exotic dancer, Maureen Mauder, Paramount had her sign away the rights to her life story
  • The now famous off the shoulder big sweatshirt look was purely accidental because Jennifer Beals could not fit her head through her highschool sweatshirt. She decided to cut the collar off and wear it to the audition.  They liked it and added it to the movie
  •  It took 4 dancers for the iconic final dance scene by Alex Owens. One of the dancers was actually a man. Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón.  The famous leap was done by gymnast Sharon Shapiro
  • This was one of the first films that didn’t fit into the “musical”category because it did not center on the songs.  With MTV it became easier to bring pop songs into films. This led to the popular movies of Footloose and Dirty Dancing.

Footloose (1984)

  • Follows Ren, a boy from Chicago who moves to a rural town, where dancing to modern music is forbidden
  • This story is loosely based on true events!
    • In 1980, high school juniors in Elmore City, Oklahoma appealed to the town leaders and requested that a city-wide ban on dancing be lifted so they could hold a prom. When the decision to overturn the ban came to a 2-2 vote, the tie-breaking decision came from the school board president who reportedly said, “Let ’em dance.”
  • Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were both slated to play the lead, but Cruise was tied up with another project, while Lowe sustained an injury and was unable to play the role.
  •  Melanie Griffith, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Tilly, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Heather Locklear, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jodie Foster, Phoebe Cates, Tatum O’Neal, Bridget Fonda, Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane and Brooke Shields were all considered for the role of Ariel
  • The movie also stars John Lithgow with an appearance from Sarah Jessica Parker
  • The soundtrack dethroned Michael Jackson’s Thriller album with titles such as: “Footloose,” “Sussudio,” “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” and “I need a Hero”
    • Seriously, the soundtrack ROCKS

Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)

  • Came out in 1985 and inspired by the Cindy Lauper song of the same name
    • The story follows a young Army brat played by Sarah Jessica Parker who dreams of dancing on her favorite TV show. With a help of Helen Hunt, she attempts to win a spot on the show
  • The actual song isn’t used in the movie, a cover is used instead because of licensing restrictions
  • The movie starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Lee Montgomery, Morgan Woodward, Jonathan Silverman, Shannen Doherty, and Helen Hunt.
  • Parker was in Footloose one year earlier, though in this film she has the starring role

Dirty Dancing (1987) 

  • It stars Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze and takes place in the early 1960s
  • It is based in part on Elenor Bergstein’s childhood; She was a screenwriter for the project
    • She wrote a script for another film in 1980, and when an erotic dance scene was cut from the film, she was inspired to write this story with heavy influences from her childhood as a Doctor’s daughter that vacationed in the Catskills
    • For a choreographer, she chose Kenny Ortega!
    • For casting, she insisted on actors that could also dance
  • The scene where the couple are dancing and crawling on the floor wasn’t intended to be in the movie, it was a warm-up that the director loved so much that he put it in the film
  • The trees at the lake were spray-painted green for the scenes that took place in the woods and at the lake because the scenes were shot in the fall
  • In an interview with AFI, Swayze explained why he thought Dirty Dancing endured for so long. “It’s got so much heart, to me,” he said. “It’s not about the sensuality; it’s really about people trying to find themselves, this young dance instructor feeling like he’s nothing but a product, and this young girl trying to find out who she is in a society of restrictions when she has such an amazing take on things.”

Hairspray (1988)

  • This John Waters classic starred Rikki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, a “pleasantly plump” teenager who dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show in 1960s Baltimore
    • The movie had many other famous names like Jerry Stiller, Divine, and Sony Bono
    • The movie also uses segregation as a main plot point, as Tracy attempts to bring about an era of change by integrating The Corny Collins show. It highlights the harsh reality of the civil rights era while maintaining a goofy tone
  • The popularity of this movie spawned the stage musical of the same name that was then later re-made into a film in 2007
  • John Waters’ success with Hairspray paved the way for him to make “Crybaby” in 1990, starring Johnny Depp

Breakin’ (1984)

  • Also known as “Breakdance” in the UK and “Break Street ‘84” in other regions, this was a very popular movie of the mid-1980s! With more of a focus on break-dancing than plot, this is a fun dance movie that showcases incredibly talented dancers
  • Set in the hip hop club Radio-Tron in MacArthur Park, LA
    • The club is where many of the dancers spend time and have dance battles
    • This is where the main character Kelly meets Ozone and Turbo, the trio are the main characters of the films
  • Menahem Golan of Cannon Films was inspired to create this film after his daughter saw a breakdancer in California
  • By the end of its run, the film grossed $38,682,707 in the domestic box office

Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo (1984)

  • This sequel to “Breakin'” focused even more on dancing, with extended dance sequences as the main focal part of the film
  • It follows the same trio as they try to save the local community center that serves children and teaches them dance and other art
  • We suggest that when you watch this film, try not to get too caught up in the plot, as the dancing is the real show!

The Case for Knowing the Scores: 1 1/2 Disney Edition

62355005_1141195532734999_8701329314760622080_nWe are dedicating the month of June to movie music! First on our list, we have the third installment of our film score series! This week we are focusing on the scores and songs of the Disney Animated Classics. We will be looking at Disney scores by each era, while discussing the evolution and influences of the music.

In order to listen along to the incredible list that Robin put together for this episode follow the link below!


The Golden Age

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
      • It’s 1937–two years before Judy Garland will sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  Talking pictures have only been around for 10 years, and the movie musical is becoming all the rage (for example, 42nd Street and Top Hat were big successes in the 1930s)
      • Walt Disney makes headlines by not only producing the first full-length animated film, but he pushes the limits by making it a musical as well. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the birth of Disney animation’s Golden Age.
      • The men who worked on this score were: Paul Smith, Leigh Harline, Frank Churchill, and Larry Morey (lyrics)
        • Smith, Harline, and Churchill worked on the score while Churchill and Morey were responsible for the music and lyrics
  • Their score was the FIRST EVER commercially issued feature film soundtrack  
        • This music and songs set the tone for the “Disney Formula” that the later films followed for years to come
        • All three composers were nominated for an Oscar for this score
  • Pinocchio
      • We will not be able to talk about every movie in length, but we will try to highlight the most prominent films of each era. This includes Pinocchio, Disney’s second animated classic
      • Paul Smith and Leigh Harline returned, earning an Oscar for best original score
      • Snow White may have set the tone for Disney Animated musicals, but Pinocchio is responsible for bringing us the most iconic song in Disney’s collection: When You Wish Upon a Star
  • When You Wish Upon a Star
      • Music by Leigh Harline, lyrics by Ned Washington
      • Voiced by Cliff Edwards, a popular singer of the 1930s, Jiminy Cricket delivers the song that would become the theme of Disney
      • Not only did it win an Oscar, the American Film Institute named it the 7th greatest song in film history (one of only four Disney songs on the list)
      • Ned Washington was a lyricist from Tin Pan Alley and was inducted in the songwriters hall of fame in 1972
        • If you are unfamiliar, Tin Pan Alley was a genre of music that came from American song producers in late 19th century New York. It’s where a lot of American popular music was written; another lyricist from this time and genre is Johnny Mercer who we will talk about in another episode
  • Fantasia, Dumbo, & Bambi are other films of this era that we don’t have time to go into fully but are important to note
    • Bambi was the first Disney animated movie where the songs were not sung by characters, but all off-screen; it also was an important movie for the time and an animation marvel, but since this episode is about scores, we won’t go into that
      • Frank Churchill and Edward Plum scored Bambi
      • Churchill and Larry Morey wrote the songs and lyrics, the same team behind Snow White
    • For Dumbo, Churchill and Ned Washington were reunited to write the songs
      • Churchill was obviously instrumental (ha) in early Disney movie scores; He was what Alan Menken became during the renaissance
      • Ned Washington, as you might recall, was the lyricist for Pinocchio
    • Fantasia’s score was made up of classical pieces, so it didn’t really have a true score.

The War-time Era

  • Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time, and The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad
    • This era of Disney animation is often forgotten, mostly because the films had a smaller budget and were not necessarily up to the same standards as the films of the Golden Era
    • These movies were known as package films, consisting of two or more shorts instead of an overarching plot
      • Saludos Amigos was notable because the Disney studio worked with other musicians in South America to create the songs of the shorts
        • This was the introduction of José Carioca, a now iconic Disney character very popular in South America
        • Paul Smith also worked on this movie with Edward Plum, the most notable song was “Saludos Amigos” by Charles Wolcott and Ned Washington
      • The Three Caballeros was a similar film that took place in various parts of Latin America, where Saludos Amigos had a strong emphasis on Brazil
        • It was scored by the same people as the former film
      • Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, and Melody Time were all package films that consisted of narrated shorts based on poems, songs, classical music, or fairy tales
        • One of the most notable shorts from Make Mine Music is Peter and the Wolf
        • Many people would recognize Mickey and the Beanstalk from Fun and Fancy Free
        • The Andrews Sisters are an example of a popular singing duo that lent their voices to “Little Toot” in Melody Time
      • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was a different story, however, because it only consisted of two separate stories
        • These two segments had their own plots and songs pertaining to the specific stories on which they were based: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows
        • Oliver Wallace, an American composer wrote the score with songs by Don Raye and Jean de Paul; Frank Churchill and Charles Wolcott
        • The most notable thing about this soundtrack, is that it was sung by Bing Crosby; this is an example of a famous singer lending their voice to the animation, which was not a common practice at the time and is much more prominent in animation today

The Silver Age

  • Cinderella
      • With the war over, all hands are on deck for the next era of Disney animation! Disney has now proven that animation is a viable medium in motion pictures, and that they are steering the ship. With more resources, time, and ever-changing technology, Disney begins to make movies based on more complex stories, with dynamic characters. This is the era where Disney Animation stands tall and shows everyone: they aren’t going anywhere.
      • Cinderella is undoubtedly the most prominent film to come from the next era of Disney, and its music continued the trend set by the Golden Age
        • Scored by Oliver Wallace and Paul J Smith, both now veteren Disney composes; the score also reflects the era of popular music and film scores.
        • Songs like “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” became well-known staples in the Disney songbook
      • Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman wrote the songs of Cinderella, and were nominated for Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo
        • Mack David and Jerry Livingston often worked together on Broadway; Much like other composer/lyricist combos that have come to Disney, they came as a team
        • Al Hoffman was also known for writing many popular tunes including “Fit as a Fiddle” which many might recognize from Singin’ in the Rain (if nothing else)
  • Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone
      • Alice in Wonderland was also scored by the same men behind Cinderella, though the songs were written by several different people
        • Most were written by Bob Hilliard and Sammy Fain, though our old friends Don Raye and Gene De Paul (Ichabod and Mr. Toad) and Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman also shared writing credits
      • Peter Pan shares similarities in its score to other movies of this time, sweeping orchestral music with the addition of a chorus for some songs
      • 101 Dalmatians, like many movies of the “Dark Age” only has one song. However, the iconic “Cruella DeVil” has had a lasting impact for generations
  • Mel Leven, who wrote the melody and lyrics, also wrote the songs for the movie “Babes in Toyland”
        • This song also shows a clear Jazz influence in Disney music
        • The soundtrack was done by George Bruns who went on to score more films for Disney
      • Lady and the Tramp
        • The songs for this film were written by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke, the most famous of course “Bella Note”; this is the first female credit for songwriting on this list
  • Sleeping Beauty
    • Once Upon a Dream
      • The only character song of the movie was written by Sammy Fein (of Alice and Wonderland) and Jack Lawrence
      • This song melody is based off “The Garland Waltz” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Sleeping Beauty” ballet
    • The rest of the score is standard to the sound of this era, very similar to Cinderella
  • The Jungle Book
    • This film is incredibly important to the direction that Disney went in the upcoming bronze era; George Bruns this time wrote a score that was heavily influenced by the setting of the movie
    • The songs were written by Terry Gilkyson, though Disney felt his songs were too dark and thus he asked the Sherman Brothers to do a rewrite. The only song they kept was “The Bare Necessities”
    • The Sherman Brothers, who also wrote the music for Mary Poppins, would be part of the Disney Animation music team for the next few films

The Bronze Age (or Dark age)

  • At the time, this seemed like a bad era for Disney. The movies took a darker turn with storytelling and the studio was working hard to find its footing after the death of Walt Disney. However, this time was incredibly important in the development of Disney Animation, and that goes for music as well
  • The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Fox and the Hound
      • George Bruns created a jazz-inspired score for The Aristocats with an influence of classically French tunes as well
        • The Sherman Brothers returned to write the songs, some of the most notable being “Thomas O’Malley” and “Everybody Wants to be a Cat”
      • Bruns’ Robin Hood score is similar to that of Aristocats, with songs sung by artist Roger Miller
        • Robin Hood is notable for having Roger Miller write and sing the songs, as this helped set the stage for artists (Phil Collins) to do this in the future
        • The song, “Phony King of England” was written by Johnny Mercer who was an incredibly prominent songwriter of the time (Moon River)
      • The Sherman Brothers returned once again to write songs for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; “Winnie the Pooh” has since been a recognizable theme for the silly ol’ bear
      • The Scores for Winnie the Pooh and The Fox and the Hound were both written by Buddy Baker who had worked for Disney scoring live-action films
        • “The Best of Friends,” the only song from The Fox and the Hound, was written by Stan Fidel and Richard Johnston
  • The Rescuers
      • “Someone’s Waiting for You” was written by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins (who also wrote “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky) with music by Sammy Fein
      • Connors and Robbins wrote the rest of the songs for the film with Artie Butler’s score
  • The Black Cauldron
      • The Black Cauldron was a definite turn from the light-hearted films of early Disney, and with it it had a grand score by legendary composer Elmer Bernstein
      • There are no songs in the Black Cauldron, and it’s dark orchestral score sets the tone for the fantasy epic
      • Bernstein was foriegn to animation-composing, and the idea of using a well-established composer for a stand-alone score and no songs was essentially unheard of for Disney
      • This style was repeated in the Disney films of the post-renaissance (ie Atlantis)
  • The Great Mouse Detective
      • With the exception of “World’s Greatest Criminal Mind,” The Great Mouse Detective also was a movie that relied heavily on a well-crafted score by non other than the great Henry Mancini
      • This was the only Disney film scored by Mancini, who was well-established in the entertainment industry for “Pink Panther” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Peter Gunn”
  • Oliver and Company
    • Scored by J A C Redford, Oliver and Company closed out the Disney dark ages
    • The songs of this movie are notable for how many different artists collaborated on them! Using the voices of Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and the News, and Bette Midler hearkens back to the time of Ichabod and Mr. Toad or Robin Hood
    • One of the most prominent songs: Once Upon a Time in New York City is important as it was the first Disney writing credit for Howard Ashman who was a vital piece of the Disney renaissance

The Renaissance

    • Ah yes, the time period we’ve all been waiting for! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Disney Animation saved itself from being closed down; and all it took was the angelic voice of a little mermaid
  • The Little Mermaid
      • As Disney was in danger of losing its animation studio, they brought in a composer/lyricist duo that had had some success with musicals such as “Little Shop of Horrors”
      • Alan Menken, the composer, would go on to write music for Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules. He was responsible for the sound of the Disney renaissance and helped save Disney
      • His other achievement though, was bringing in Howard Ashman, considered by many to be one of the greatest lyricists in Disney history
      • Ashman also suggested changes to the film that also brought success; He changed Sebastian’s ethnicity for example to Jamaican
      • Here is a clip of Ashman coaching Jodi Benson as she records “Part of Your World
  • Beauty and the Beast
    • Alan Menken and Howard Ashman his the world with a 1-2 punch with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast
    • From the hauntingly beautiful score of the beginning to the delicate sound of “A Tale as Old as Time,” Beauty and the Beast won the hearts of audiences, and Disney was once again considered to be the best in animation
  • Aladdin
    • After the death of Howard Ashman, Tim Rice came in as a lyricist for Aladdin
    • Howard Ashman had worked on some of the songs in the film before he passed away, including Friend Like Me; Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for A Whole New World
    • Aladdin broke ground by having separate actors sing and speak for the leading roles, a practice they continued as they saw fit throughout the renaissance
    • Robin Williams as the genie also increased the popularity of casting celebrities as voice actors, though this was not a brand new concept in Disney animation
  • The Lion King
    • Scored by the well-known composer Hans Zimmer, The Lion King’s music has a vast and epic feel to it, as well as influences from the African location of the movie
    • With songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, the movie was a step in a different direction from the previous movies of the renaissance, though it kept the broadway-like structure and feel of other renaissance movies
  • Pocahontas
    • Stephen Schwartz joined the Disney team as a lyricist for Pocahontas
      • He had seen much success on Broadway for Pippin and Godspell (and in a few years he would have a MAJOR success with Wicked)
    • Alan Menken returned to score Pocahontas and write the melodies for songs, fitting the mold of the other movies of the renaissance and proving that he was responsible for the Disney-movie-sound of the 1990s
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • This movie proved that Disney could in fact cover dark topics with intense themes while still maintaining a appeal for children; this was something they were not able to nail down during the bronze age
    • Stephen Schwartz wrote lyrics for Hunchback as well, and Alan Menken gave us one of the greatest scores in the Disney collection to accompany Schwartz’s lyrics
  • Hercules
    • For Hercules, a new lyricist joined the team, David Zippel and Alan Menken returned once again to write the score and songs
      • Hercules sets itself apart from other Disney movies by using gospel and mo-town influences
      • Using narration throughout the movie, accompanied by music and Zippel’s lyrics, Hercules was able to keep the plot moving forward in a unique way
    • It’s important to note that this is the last movie of the renaissance that Alan Menken worked on and his absence was noticed in the post-renaissance
  • Mulan
    • Jerry Goldsmith, a film score giant, was responsible for the grand soundtrack with Eastern influence in Mulan
    • Along with Elmer Bernstein and Hans Zimmer, this was an example of Disney using a composer unfamiliar with animation, but well-known for live-action film scores
    • The songs for Mulan were written by Matthew Wilder and lyrics were penned, once again, by David Zippel
      • The most popular songs from the film were: Reflection and Be a Man
  • Tarzan
    • For the Tarzan soundtrack, Disney took a new direction. Reminiscent of The Lion King, they had a well-known singer/songwriter write the songs for the film. This time, the artist was Phil Collins and he wrote music as well as lyrics
    • Collins’ voice appears many times in the film, with songs sung by characters and songs off-screen
    • The score is by Mark Mancina, a composer known today for Moana
      • Mancina had worked for Disney in the past as an arranger for other films like The Lion King, and would go on to score Brother Bear (another Phil Collins collaboration)

A Case for Knowing the Scores Part 2

Everybody loves a sequel, right? Well, this time Robin takes us back to the golden age of film to talk about the composers that set the stage for film music today. We talk briefly about the composers nominated for Oscars this year, and some famous names we didn’t get to last time.

Here is the link to the playlist so you can listen too!53251509_360710944780943_8287800174055522304_n

Welcome back for ANOTHER Case for Knowing the Scores!

Erich Korngold

Scores Mentioned

  • King’s Row (1942) – Main Title
  • The Sea Hawke (1940) – Main Title/Finale
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Prologue

Max Steiner

Scores Mentioned

  • Gone with the Wind (1939) – Main Title
  • A Summer Place (1959) – Main Title
  • Casablanca (1942) – Paris Medley

Franz Waxman

Scores Mentioned

  • Rebecca (1940) – Main Title
  • Rear Window (1954) – Lisa
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940) – (Main Title)

Bernard Herrmann

Scores Mentioned

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) – Outer Space
  • Psycho (1960) – Prelude & Shower Scene
  • Taxi Driver (1976) – I Still Can’t Sleep/They Cannot Touch her (Betsy’s Theme)

Henry Mancini

Scores Mentioned

  • The Great Race (1965) – Overture & Pie in the Face Polka
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Main Theme/Moon River
  • Hatari (1962) – The Baby Elephant Walk

Ernest Gold

Scores Mentioned

  • Exodus (1960) – Main Title
    • Was #2 on the billboard top 100
  • It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) – Main Title

Ennio Morricone

Scores Mentioned

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – Main Title
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – Man with a Harmonica
    • Finally won his first Oscar in 2016 for Hateful Eight
    • Won an honorary lifetime achievement oscar in 2017


Scored Mentioned

  • Chariots of Fire (1981)
  • Blade Runner (1982)

Philip Glass

Scores Mentioned

  • Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

  • The Truman Show (with Burkhard Dallwitz) (1998)
    • Anthem-Part 2 (from Powaqqatsi)
    • Opening (from Mishima)

Terence Blanchard

Scores Mentioned

  • Malcolm X (1992) – Fruit of Islam
  • Black KKKlansman (2018) – Main Title

Ludwig Gorannson

  • Black Panther (2018) – 
    • Won an Oscar and Grammy for this score
  • Creed (2015) – You’re a Creed

Nicholas Brittell

  • If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) – Eden (Harlem)
  • The Big Short (2015) – Mouseclick Symphony & I Say When we Sell

Marc Shaiman

  • Heart and Souls (1993) – Main Title
  • Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – Overture


  • Mudbound (2017) – Main Theme

Mica Levi

  • Jackie (2016) – Empty White House
  • Under the Skin (2013) – Creation

The (Brief) Case of the Not-so-Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the biggest night in American sports. People all over the country gather to watch and eat junk food as two teams battle for the recognition of being the year’s best team in American Football. This year, we didn’t tune in so much to watch the game, but more to watch the commercials, the Toy Story 4 sneak peak, and above all, an ultimately disappointing halftime show.

These are our thoughts on the Not-so-Super Bowl 53.

The missed tribute:

In this episode, we discuss the expectation we had to Maroon 5 to sing “Sweet Victory” from a season 2 episode of “Spongebob Squarepants.” Because the song in the episode is performed at the “Bubble Bowl” (we’re guessing the underwater equivalent to the Super Bowl), fans have been asking for the halftime performance to include the track for years. This year, however, it was especially requested as a tribute to Steve Hillenburg, the late “Spongebob” creator. Here is a link to the online petition:

The song was not played, however. Instead, there was a brief animation teasing the song, followed by a performance by Travis Scott. Here is a link to the song as it was performed (by David Glenn Eisley) in “Band Geeks” (2001)

We briefly mention a Gus Johnson video in response to the halftime show. You can find it here.

We also discussed some of the ads aired during the Super Bowl. This wasn’t the best year for ads in recent history, but there were a few gems. Here are links to ones mentioned:


NFL 100 Years

Pizza Hut


The Twilight Zone

Burger King

Bud Light/Game of Thrones


The Case for Knowing the Scores

Join us this week as we discuss movie music!


In preparation for this episode, Robin created a playlist of film music for Adam and Marci to listen to. You can find the list (along with some other examples) Here.

We covered a lot of ground in this episode because it is such a broad topic. We did not discuss everyone and everything that we wanted to, so expect a part II in the future. But for now, sit back and enjoy the music!

A Brief history of film music:

  • Before sound was introduced to movies, theatres provided music for films. This could be played live or a recording.
  • The first original film score was written by composer Camille Saint-Saens for The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
  • After the ability to synchronize sound to film, film scoring became the norm
  • In the 1930s-1950s, movie scores had a large European influence and came from composers well-versed in concert music
  • Leitmotif: Attributed to Richard Wagner, this is the principle of using a specific instrument or theme for a character or event. Max Steiner, also known as the father of film music, was known for using this. Unfortunately we did not mention Steiner or the other founding composers of the golden age of film. But, there is always next time!
  • After the golden age of film, movie music broke a little from European influence and began using newer musical concepts like Jazz and electronic music
  • High Noon (1952) featured a commercially successful original song. This inspired studios to ask composers to write original songs for movies to play on the radio and convince listeners to buy albums.
  • This concept continued through later years as many films have original songs associated with them. For example: “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr for the 1984 film of the same name

So, let’s start talking about the composers!

  • Alfred Newman
    • Score Mentioned
      • How the West Was Won (1962)
    • An iconic composer from the golden age of film, he composed over 250 scores and is the father of David and Thomas Newman
  • John Williams
    • Scores Mentioned
      • Witches of Eastwick (1987)
      • ET (1982)
      • Indiana Jones (1981)
      • Jurassic Park (1993)
      • Star Wars (1977)
    • We mentioned his work with Steven Spielberg, though he has worked with many other directors
    • Well-known for creating iconic melodies and for being the most nominated living person in Oscar history with 51 nominations
  • Wendy Carlos
    • Scores Mentioned
      • Tron (1982)
      • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
      • The Shining (1980)
    • A groundbreaking composer in electronic and synth music, Wendy Carlos introduced the Vocoder in her score for A Clockwork Orange (1971.) The Vocoder is a device that synthesizes human voices.
  • Mark Mothersbaugh
    • Score Mentioned
      • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
    • Has worked with Wes Anderson several times on films: Rushmore (1998) Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and more
    • Known for writing music for Rugrats (1990-2006)
    • Also a founding member of the band Devo
  • Jerry Goldsmith
    • Scores mentioned
      • Mulan (1998)
      • Rudy (1993)
      • The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
    • Robin mentions an NPR piece which you can listen to here.
    • Goldsmith was a pioneering composer well-known for integrating ethnic sounds into his scores as well as electronic samples with a full orchestra
  • Hans Zimmer
    • Scores Mentioned
      • The Lion King (1994)
      • Interstellar (2014)
      • The Dark Knight (2008)
      • Inception (2010)
      • Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
      • Gladiator (2000)
    • One of the most well-known composers working today, Hans Zimmer has become a household name and has even played Coachella
  • Danny Elfman
    • Scores Mentioned
      • Batman (1989)
      • Edward Scissorhands (1990)
      • Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
      • Corpse Bride (2005)
    • Elfman was in the band “Oingo Boingo” 1974-1995
    • He was the singing voice for Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas
    • He also sang “Remains of the Day” in The Corpse Bride (2005) as Bone Jangles
  • James Horner
    • Scores Mentioned
      • The Pagemaster (1994)
      • Casper (1995)
      • An American Tale (1986)
      • Titanic (1997)
    • Wrote “Sarah’s Theme” or “Come Little Children” for Hocus Pocus (1993)
    • Frequently worked on films with James Cameron Titanic (1997) Aliens (1986)
  • Elmer Bernstein
    • Scores Mentioned
      • The Magnificent Seven (1960)
      • The Great Escape (1963)
      • Ghostbusters (1984)
    • Known for writing some of the most recognizable themes in movie history, he composed over 150 original movie scores
  • Thomas Newman
    • Scores mentioned
      • Finding Nemo (2003)
      • The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
      • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
    • Son of Alfred Newman, Thomas Newman has made a name for himself by scoring many films for Pixar and other studios
    • He got his start working in the music department for Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Randy Edelman
    • Scores Mentioned
      • The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)
      • Dragonheart (1996)
      • Angels in the Outfield (1994)
    • Pieces of his uplifting scores have been used many times in film trailers and television promotions
  • Rachel Portman
    • Scores Mentioned
      • The Cider House Rules (1999)
      • Only You (1994)
      • One Day (2011)
      • Emma (1996)
    • Originally from the UK, Rachel Portman is known for being the first woman to win an Oscar in the scoring category
    • She began scoring at age 14 and had scored her first major motion picture at 22 years old
    • Her music has often been described as uplifting and romantic
  • Alexandre Desplat
    • Scores Mentioned
      • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
      • The King’s Speech (2010)
      • Isle of Dogs (2018)
    • A talented French composer, Desplat was inspired to write for film after hearing John Williams’ score for Star Wars (1977)


Film Music 101: The First Film Score