Tag Archives: soundtrack

Hey Arnold!

Today’s Music Tuesdays it a late one – so it’s gonna be a quick one!

Let’s start by talking about TV music. Been awhile since I used the TV tag! This time, I wanted to talk briefly about the music of the 90’s Nickelodeon cartoon show Hey Arnold! One of the things I remember liking about the show, besides the great characters and whimsical views of city life (it was always NYC to me), was the music. It fit the show so perfectly. It was cool, like its namesake character. And it was probably one of the reasons I got into jazz. Not that I’m well-versed on the subject – I listened to my local college station play jazz music at night, and sometimes I listened to my parents’ Harry Connick, Jr. CDs (20 was the main one for me). But put on some jazz and I won’t complain.

The music ranged from upbeat and swinging, like the intro theme here:

To smooth and laid-back, like this track, titled “Groove Remote,” which I’ve been listening to on repeat all day:

When I listen to this soundtrack (mostly random collections scattered across YouTube), I think still get the same sort of visions of NYC. I’ve thought of it as some kind of exotic place that exists in America. It’s not really a romantic fantasy view of the city. Well, maybe a little bit. But there’s still some real grit in there. It would make as much of an adventure as a boat ride down the Amazon River, in my mind. Full of possibilities to explore.

I feel like I’ve gone off on a tangent, but I swear it’s connected! The point I’m trying to make is that this is one of the places my imagination takes me when I listen to the jazz music featured in Hey Arnold! Of course, it’s pretty close to the vision presented by the show (which never REALLY said it was NYC), but I have to imagine that it could have played out another way if they’d chosen a different type of music.

Someday, when I visit the Big Apple, I’m going to be hearing this music play in my head.

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Over the Garden Wall

Sorry I had to miss last week! My Internet has not been treating me well. I have a feeling it’s actually my computer. But I’m back this week! And I’m here to talk about…TV?

Yes! I am here to talk about the soundtrack to Over the Garden Wall, the 5-night animated mini-series that aired on Cartoon Network earlier this month. And yes, this IS a blog about music, but even TV shows have music! If there are pleasant (or unpleasant) sounds to be heard, I’m here to talk about them.

So anyway! A quick (spoiler-free) breakdown of the show: Over the Garden Wall is about a pair of brothers who are lost in a strange and magical woodland setting and are trying to find their way home with the help of a talking (and reluctant) bluebird. They encounter several characters along the way and try to help them so that they can get help in turn. The story is broken into 10 chapters. Think of it as a series of fairy tales strung together like a charm bracelet. It’s all very whimsical and has a sort of late 19th/early 20th century American folk tale feel to it.

On to the music! The soundtrack (most of it anyway) is available to listen to for free on Cartoon Network’s YouTube channel. No official album available for purchase yet. Which is a shame, and hopefully will be remedied soon! Go ahead and give it a listen. It’s just a little over 14 minutes and there really aren’t any spoilers that can be pulled from it. The songs here don’t play in order! (Click the letters at the top right for each following track – It should spell THE UNKNOWN.)

The music really keeps up with that whimsical theme. It’s very inspired by late 19th/early 20th century American folk music. In a making of the music featurette, Elijah Wood (who voices Wirt, one of the brothers) states “If this show were a record, it would be played on phonograph.” That’s clear to me right away. I can almost hear it with the occasional minute scratch or hiss under the music.

My favorites (and most everyone else’s, I’d wager) are “Langtree’s Lament” (gotta learn all the words – I love this one!) and “Potatoes and Molasses,” which sounds gross and yet I want to try it because of this show and song. However, I also really like “Over the Garden Wall” and “Into the Unknown” as well as “Patient is the Night” and “A Courting Song” (which makes me want to do a little jig). Well, that’s about half the soundtrack, haha.

“Like Ships” is super corny, which is great because of what happens later in the chapter featuring this song. (I won’t give it away!) “Come Wayward Souls” is super creepy – and it’s meant to be, seeing as how it’s sung by the antagonist. “Forward Oneiroi!” is tough for me to like on its own. It was very particular to a segment that happens in one of the chapters. Same goes for “The Highway Man” but that one stands stronger on its own. It’s still meant to me listened to while you watch the sequence!

I would totally buy this soundtrack if they released a digital version. Heck, I would buy it on vinyl AND get a record player just to hear it that way! That same making of the music featurette shows them creating the LPs (although I think technically it’s an EP?) but it seems they made a limited amount for release in press kits only. So unfair!

Give this soundtrack a listen now if you want – but watch the mini-series too! You can buy it on iTunes in HD for $9.99 – or SD for $6.99 – and it’s not even 2 hours long in total. Yes, I said this is a music blog, but I’m allowed to like other things, and I LOVE this show! I keep thinking about watching it again and again. In between views, I just play the soundtrack over and over again. So lovely.

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Friend Like Me

Robin Williams passed away, and while this is a blog about music, not movies, I felt like I needed to commemorate him on here in my own way, somehow. As a Millennial, he was a big part of my childhood. Mrs. DoubtfireFernGully: The Last RainforestJumanji, and, one of my favorites, Aladdin.

Aladdin is my absolute favorite Disney movie. I loved the animated TV series too (even if Williams wasn’t in it due to an ugly dispute with Disney). I like to see the Aladdin show at Disney California Adventure whenever I get the chance (something I highly recommend for anyone who’s never seen it). I’m still eagerly awaiting for the big time Aladdin musical (currently on Broadway) to go on tour and make its way here to LA. I had the movie on VHS, of course. I’m pretty sure I even had a flip-book that was the “Friend Like Me” sequence where Genie is dancing with his own pair of hands. Oh, and I most definitely had the soundtrack. The CD case is sadly broken into two pieces, but I still have it! Completely uncensored, I might add.

I realize now that even when it was just his voice, Robin Williams had a way of making you smile. “Friend Like Me” is one of the funnest Disney songs ever. It’s nearly impossible for me to hear this song and not sing along. Of course, part of that credit goes to the late and great Howard Ashman. But I can’t imagine anyone besides Williams bringing his words to life. There’s such a warmth to his voice, like a funny uncle who knows just how to make you feel loved and special. I think he was every Millennial’s favorite funny uncle-by-proxy. He was a professional clown, without the make-up and red rubber nose. A real-life cartoon character.

I wish I could think of more to say. The sudden announcement of Robin Williams’s passing just kind of took the wind out of my sails. I feel like I’ve said all I can say for now, though I’m sure I’ll be able to think of more later. Great man, great actor, great voice, great song. He will be missed.

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Happy

Hey, everyone! Sorry I had to skip a post last week. I had some personal stuff going on, but it’s all good now! Promise I won’t make this a regular occurrence.

So this week I want to talk about a certain Oscar-nominated song. No, not the Oscar-winning “Let It Go,” although as an aside, I do have to say “I told you so!” about certain press as of late. Let the record show I called it a long time ago.

No, this week I want to talk about Pharrell’s “Happy,” featured in Despicable Me 2. I just want to say right off the bat that it does a great job of living up to its simple name. This song just makes me want to dance through the streets and share my happiness with everyone around me, just like Gru does in the movie. It’s hard to not feel happy when you hear the song.

Sure, the lyrics are just as simple as the name, and repetitive to boot, but that’s what makes it such a successful pop song. Yes, I realize it doesn’t fall in the GENRE of pop per se, but I mean pop as a descriptor, as in popular music. Because this did become a popular song in several countries, according to the charts. A good pop song is catchy, so “Happy” does the job.

I love that the music video features a diverse range of people of all sizes, shapes and colors (and Minions too, of course) dancing along to the song in their own way. Also, it was all filmed in LA (I recognized those streets and buildings almost instantly), which gets bonus points with me. Apparently they made a 24 hour music video too. Cool concept! (On my fourth watch I got somebody in a chicken suit. Awesome.)

If you don’t like the song, maybe you’re just not in the mood for it. Understandable. Or maybe you hate joy. In which case there is no hope for you! (Kidding.)

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The Princess and the Frog

Minor spoilers for The Princess and the Frog.

Ever since I got access to the Frozen soundtrack, I’ve been on a Disney kick. While Frozen had an enjoyable soundtrack, it fell a little short of the greats: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and, one of my favorites, The Princess and the Frog.

Yup, even though the movie didn’t perform as well as hoped and expected, I still think The Princess and the Frog soundtrack – and the movie itself – is greatly under-appreciated and underrated.

First of all, it covers an incredibly diverse range of sounds, which includes New Orleans jazz, soul, gospel, blues, and zydeco. Second, the lyrics are clever, deliberate, and catchy from the very first listen. Finally, the lyrics would be nothing without the singers, who bring life and character to each and every song on this album.

The intro song “Down In New Orleans” does a great job of setting the tone, kind of in the way that “Belle” did in Beauty and the Beast, although that song was more about the main character than the setting. They’re still both great mood-setters for the story that follows.

Next up, we’ve got “Almost There” which I think may have been the only Disney princess song up to that point that’s not just about what the character wants but also how they’re going to get it. To me, it’s got all the gusto of The Lion King’s “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.”

“Friends On The Other Side” may be the best Disney villain song since “Be Prepared,” though thematically it reminds me of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” The spoken asides are fantastic and really help define Dr. Facilier as a smooth-talking trickster. Keith David’s voice was made for this song, period. He makes it one of my favorite villain songs, if not one of my favorite Disney songs ever.

“When We’re Human” is another fantastic character defining song. It does a great job of showing how different Tiana, Naveen, and Louis are, even while they all sing the same melody. A melody that makes me want to get up and dance, by the way.

Next up we get some spirited Zydeco music with “Gonna Take You There.” This is the song that amazes me most with its ability to blend the musical genre with that classic Disney sing-along charm that just sweeps you up into its lyrics.

“Ma Belle Evangeline” is a real treat. Is this the first Disney love song exclusively sung by a male character about a woman? Sure, Gaston was singing about wooing Belle, but it’s safe to say no one was rooting for him the way everyone was rooting for Ray’s unrequited love for Evangeline.

“Dig A Little Deeper” is the soundtrack’s uplifting answer to the earlier “When We’re Human.” Seeing as how Mama Odie is the modern (well, sort of, considering the movie takes place in the 1920’s) version of the fairy godmother, it’s a clear parallel to Cinderella’s “Bippity Boppity Boo,” although the characters can’t just get what they want because they want it. It’s got a great message for that reason.

The soundtrack comes full circle with a reprise of “Down In New Orleans,” with a soulful performance by Anika Noni Rose. It makes you truly believe, as she sings, that “Dreams do come true in New Orleans.” It’s the classic Disney ending, with all the bells and whistles and fireworks exploding at the end, done New Orleans style.

The Princess and the Frog soundtrack is full of New Orleans spirit. If it could be summed up in one sentence, it would definitely be “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

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Let It Go

MINOR SPOILERS FOR FROZEN AHEAD

I’m going to make what may be a wild proposition about the hit song “Let It Go” as sung by Idina Menzel in Disney’s latest animated film Frozen. One that I haven’t seen anyone else make so far and has kind of surprised me, so maybe that’s what makes me think my proposition may be wild.

I propose that “Let It Go” is an LGBTQ coming out anthem.

No, really. Furthermore, I think it might be an answer to Lea Solanga’s “Relfection” in Mulan.

Really really. Where “Reflection” was a song about hiding one’s true identity out of fear of what others may think, “Let It Go” is about, well, letting go of all those fears and anxieties and just not giving a damn what other people think about you. Let’s break it down.

Frozen is about two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa. Elsa, the older sister, has the power to summon and manipulate snow and ice. Anna loves her sister’s powers, and Elsa loves using them to make her younger sister happy, until she accidentally (and almost fatally) injures her. The girls’ parents decide that Elsa’s powers are too dangerous and tell her she must keep them a secret, while taking Anna to a clan of trolls who erase the memories of her older sister’s powers.

Fast forward several years. The sisters’ parents have died (as you do in a Disney movie…) and it’s the day of Elsa’s coronation. The sisters get into an argument and Elsa accidentally reveals her powers to pretty much the entire kingdom. Accused of being a witch and a monster, Elsa flees the kingdom and decides to live a life of solitude in the mountains. But rather than seeing this as an exile, she sees this as freedom – freedom to express herself as she truly is without judgment or shame.

DO YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?? Anyone who has struggled with their sexual orientation or gender identity (and the views of others – especially family and even more especially when they are less than accepting) should see a rainbow flag waving in the background. I know I do. The first time I saw the movie (and scene) it was right there when Elsa literally lets her hair down.

Let’s follow along with the lyrics:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

I haven’t heard Disney lyrics so clearly about being in the closet since Lea Solanga sang “Somehow I cannot hide/Who I am, though I’ve tried.”

But then this happens:

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

That’s when she decides that people are going to say what they’re going to say, so close the door on them, leave them far behind, and let it go, because when you do you’ll be free to live life to the fullest.

And, as my fiancée pointed out, “Here I stand and here I’ll stay” is totally the Disney version of “I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it.”

Maybe I just haven’t been looking in the right places or talking to enough people about it, but I cannot believe there isn’t more talk about this song’s meaning. Frozen turned out to be a pretty unorthodox Disney movie, if not for Elsa’s character, the “big reveal” ending/resolution, and of course “Let It Go.” If you want to feel empowered and validated for who you are, give this song a listen and wave your flag.

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