The Simpsons Movie: The Music Soundtrack
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To embellish The Simpsons' leap from television to cinema screen, creators Matt Groenig and Jim Brooks have taken the surprising step of bypassing Danny Elfman, who wrote the show's sublimely anthemic theme, and Alf Clausen, longtime composer of the show's incidental music, to call in Hollywood royalty in the shape of Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer is as Zimmer does: a master of subtle and often deliciously sly musical references that ricochet between parody and pastiche with gleefully inventive abandon. There's colour aplenty, certainly, but nothing to quite match the peculiarly hallucinogenic palette that Springfield is bathed in.
Elfman's theme is heard twice here in full - in Zimmer's souped-up orchestral version full of money-no-object bombast, and in a thumping bonus track in which it gets an acid house-crossed with-The X Files-sounding remix from Ryeland Allison. No, I don't know either.
More than with most soundtrack albums, the suspicion that something is missing lurks here in nearly every track. Divorced from Groenig's iconic animation and in the absence of contributions from Homer, Bart, Marge et al - a lost opportunity if ever there was one - Zimmer's score, accomplished and polished though it is, never quite stirs the heart or quickens the pulse in quite the way you might expect it to.
Soundtrack trainspotters, however, will enjoy Zimmer's freewheeling allusions to other films. Exhibits A, B and C (of many): where 'Release the Hounds' features a twanging guitar that wouldn't be out of place in a Tarantino flick, and 'Spider Pig' is a glorious and all-too brief re-working of the Spiderman television theme, the marvellously titled 'You Doomed Us All! Again' echoes early John Williams and throws in a smidgeon of Aaron Copland for good measure.
Committed Zimmerians or Simpsonites will undoubtedly snap this. The rest of us will probably get more satisfaction from saving our money for a bag of doughnuts (Mmm.! dough-nuts). --Michael Quinn
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Top Customer Reviews
Of particular note is Lisa's Theme, written for her by Colin in the movie. It's such a sweet melody that echoes vintage Goldsmith of the 80s. Sadly, as with most Zimmer-arranged albums, it's not complete and chronological so it is not featured as its own individual track here, but you'll find it most prominently in "Doomsday is Family Time". The album has been overshadowed by the Spider-pig theme, but don't let that distract you, there's a lot of great stuff on here, it's just a shame it wasn't arranged as featured in the movie. A brilliant remix of the main theme is featured at the end with a fun track called "Recklessly Impulsive".
I wish that this score got more recognition. It never gets boring and honestly couldn't have complimented the movie better, but it seems to have been lost in the shuffle of Zimmer's more popular works.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Those who complain that the Green Day tracks or Homer's interlude are not on this CD simply aren't in touch with instrumental film scores. And that's fine as a matter of personal preference, but that's no reason to dismiss the album as a whole.
If you like film scores written in a late Romantic idiom (or most of Hans Zimmer's other work for that matter), you'll probably also like this CD. It showcases how Zimmer can aptly score all kinds of films, like Spanglish , Gladiator, and everything in between.
In regards to other reviewers' complaints that there is no Homer singing Spiderpig on the CD, I found the CD version funnier. In the theater where I saw the film, everyone laughed at the version of Homer singing it, but not nearly as much as they laughed at the end credits CD version, which was longer and more unexpected.
Now for the score ... neither Danny Elfman, nor Alf Clausen, who did almost all of the TV shows, return to this musical project. And the answer, I suppose, is quite simple: the producers wanted a name to sell. Too harsh?
The reviews on this page raging about the absence of some rock and pop rubbish clearly show what demographics the company aims at.
Otherwise you can't explain why Alf Clausen, who built this house, wasn't allowed to crown his achievement with scoring this film.
But on to the actual score. We start with Danny Elfman's original title theme, which Hans Zimmer makes sound, orchestrally, unbalanced and all over the place. Bongos, Drums and Violin runs bounce off each other in desperate tries to emulate Danny Elfman's style.
In the subsequent tracks, this pattern is followed, and Zimmer even uses some typical Elfman "La-La" choir, but ultimately, the album runs by without leaving the impression of having heard anything but random tries at Danny Elfman music.
That doesn't mean Hans Zimmer wasn't able to leave some of his fingerprints on the music; that would obviously be impossible. But you can clearly hear that he isn't at all comfortable with having to juggle a musical style that is alot more complex and stylistically demanding than his own.
"Basically, I see myself as Danny's orchestrator" he said in a recent interview. Well, but it needs more than throwing together some Elfman-isms to do him justice.
To break the never-stopping flood of quirky, mischievous underscore, Hans Zimmer included some of his well-known, and well-feared by some, "experiments"; "Release The Hounds" and "Recklessly Impulsive" feature a rock/trance vibe that, while not particulary listenable, at least works somewhat in the film. For one horrible moment, though, you wonder whether the record company accidentally pressed the dreadful, dreadful TJ Tiesto Remix of "He's A Pirate" onto the Simpsons soundtrack.
All taken into account, it is an unusual score for Hans Zimmer, it shows some orchestral colour and range, and that is alot more than you can say about the last few years of Zimmer's work, even if this score just sounds like a failed attempt at Elfman music in the end.
By the way, is Hans Zimmer so proud of having produced a (almost) purely orchestral score that the "Simpsons Theme" needs to be labelled as "orchestral version"? Any version of the Simpsons Theme, in the shows and the film, was orchestral.