I hope the experts that might see this understand I am coming at this as fan of movies and music, not as film music historian or composer; just a dude that likes some John Williams. I’ve always felt my deep love of the prequel trilogy is more than 50% attributed to John Williams and wanting to hear his fantastic music coupled with intense visuals. With this soundtrack I haven’t yet seen all those visuals and the music stands by itself, not in a way it was written to be experienced. That said, the experience was delightful when it popped up on Amazon today and I received my copy.
The soundtrack to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is really good and feels like Star Wars but unlike Star Wars as we’ve heard it. This is very much its own piece of work and doesn’t rely on the existing music to make it stand. There are moments that remind me of Warhorse and even Catch Me if you Can (which might explain why Williams is calling Abrams “baby” like a cool cat!). The musical bit from Maz’s castle is missing here, sorry Lin-Manuel Miranda fans. I think you might have to buy that track separately down the line or wait for the super deluxe version of this soundtrack down the road.
Maybe I’m just a moron that doesn’t know music, but I found the recording in Los Angeles instead of London to not be that big of a deal. I remember some people really being annoyed with that. I don’t hear a difference, maybe others will. It sounds like a really good recording to me and I can’t wait to hear it in the theater.
The soundtrack is entirely new to me most of the time. You will just hear little moments of Leia’s theme or the Han and Leia theme, no doubt popping up when those characters are on screen. Other than that, the music feels and sounds very new to me the vast majority of the time as promised by Williams.
I am using the track listing that was on Amazon last week to fill in the track numbers on my download so there’s a slight chance some of the names might be wrong, but I think I got it right. But it doesn’t really matter because I love this soundtrack a lot.
My very general impressions of the tracks:
1. Main Title and the Attack on the Jakku Village
The main title sounds like it might be in a different key here or I’m just used to the same recording from the prequels. If I remember correctly, it was in B and then moved to Bb. It sounds brighter to me. The attack of the Jakku village has very prequeleque sound to it to me. It really isn’t something you can hum, however.
This is a sad little number. This has the leitmotif of Rey’s theme and kind of has a little bit of a Catch Me if You Can vibe at moments.
I Can Fly Anything
This is just classic Star Wars fun, full of determination with moments that reminds me of some of Battle of the Heroes from Revenge of the Sith’s duel sequences. At moments it has a very mystical feel to it.
Rey Meets BB-8
Very innocent. It almost reminds me of Harry Potter.
This one is very subtle until the very back end of the track where it clearly breaks out in some chase music. You hear the little fanfare from A New Hope at one moment.
This is the standout track from the soundtrack. I know I keep saying this, but it’s like William’s Harry Potter music and Catch Me if You Can had a baby. What I love about the theme is it kind of conveys the solitude of Rey but I can hear how this could be made very big in the future as her character grows in this trilogy. This is the track to listen to first if you skim it, trust me.
This track reminds me of the chase on Coruscant from Attack of the Clones at times. Just sounds like William’s action music to my dumb old ears.
That Girl with the Staff
This one starts pretty sad and then gets into fierce determination then ends very dark and ominous.
Lots of scary instrumentation and action. You can’t hum it but you can fight monsters to it! There a few moments in this piece I really dig as it moves forward and begins to repeat itself a little.
This track is very sad. At times the strings remind me of the Order 66 music (yet way more subdued). As we get into it, I’m then reminded of Anakin’s theme from The Phantom Menace. I rather enjoy this one.
This one is pretty mellow with cellos holding notes for extended moments. But then it moves in to the Force Theme and out of it again just as quickly. The end of it is my favorite moment on the soundtrack so far, however.
This music is really sad and not as triumphantly evil as the track’s title would have one believe.
Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle
About half way into this one, it gets pretty scary and cool. But this is still one that I’ll enjoy after I see the movie a lot more than I do now as it clearly moves into other bits of action and such.
This is one of those creepy numbers filled with dread and scary high strings at moments with low cellos in other times. The end of the track brings back some of Rey’s music which I love.
Han and Leia
This track is full of classic leitmotifs as you would imagine. This one will be a crowd pleaser just because of the familiarity.
March of the Resistance
This track is pretty rocking. It reminds me of the Germany sequence from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at times. It isn’t as “Imperial March,” as one might expect and I think that’s cool. It is a high note of the soundtrack for me.
This is some low bass chanting or something. Either way, it will freak you out.
On the Inside
Lots of ominous undertones with a lot of action cues sprinkled in. The end however, is very sad.
This is another highlight of the soundtrack or one of my favorites for that matter. The end of it is pure action with the Force Theme cited slightly.
The Ways of the Force
This one brings the Force Theme out again but amidst a lot of action. This track is powerful and driven.
Scherzo for X-wings
This is the piece we saw on 60 Minutes last week, I believe. I dig it. The classic Star Wars theme rocks this house.
Farewell and the Trip
This track brings back in Rey’s little jazz number but then gets seriously mystical and epic.
The Jedi Steps and the Finale
This one uses the Rey music and the classic Force Theme together in a way that makes it a stand-out track. The ending music is just stellar, familiar, and fun.
You can order your copy of the soundtrack here.