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Are there hidden gems in the "Finding Nemo" soundtrack?

Are there hidden gems in the "Finding Nemo" soundtrack?

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Greetings JimHillMedia readers! Once again, Jim has been kind enough to allow me to rant and rave on his great site. Today however, I'm getting off my high horse of Miyazaki-mania and reviewing something just as good for you all: the latest soundtrack to PIXAR's latest animated film 'Finding Nemo.'

Up until this point, a number of film soundtracks have graced my collection (8/10 of my entire collection are soundtracks), yet 'Nemo' marks the first actual PIXAR disc that I have. I can't quite explain it, but even with Randy Newman's orchestrations, and his nice little Jazz stylings for 'Monsters Inc' and a bit of big-band feel from 'A Bug's Life' and the 'Toy Story' films, Randy Newman has never really placed as high on my soundtrack-meter. Yet in 'Finding Nemo,' we do have a Newman scoring. Thomas Newman to be exact. In fact, he's Randy's cousin.

Harking from a musical family, Thomas' credits contain films ranging from 1984's 'Revenge of the Nerds,' all the way up to Sam Mendes' 1930's crime drama 'Road to Perdition.' Thomas Newman's scores have a very subtle feel that is a different change of pace from what has come before for PIXAR. And with his first animated film score, he's done a wonderful job.

(Note: The next section, I will be discussing a few of my favorite tracks. Don't worry, there are no major film spoilers, so those of you who have yet to see 'Nemo,' can proceed.)

Newman's music many times can go for the emotional heart of a piece. Track #3 of the soundtrack (Nemo Egg) is probably some of the most subtle and heartfelt music on the soundtrack, and is 'instrumental' in the film to setting up the latter part of the film. The piece is reminiscent of those that he has composed for films such as 'Road to Perdition,' and 'The Shawshank Redemption.' If you're not careful, it could possibly bring a tear to your eye.

Track #4 (First Day) contains a few cues that have a rather Gaelic and journey-filled sound, not unlike some of the song cues from Newman's 1999 score for 'American Beauty.'

Track #15 (Foolproof) is a short catchy little piece that sounds like it would be playing in a little cabana with a nice 'groovy' style to it. Though short, it truly is sweet.

Track #23 (News Travels) is a piece that builds with some slight wind instruments and the begins to segue into strings and gradually builds before decrescendoing out in a beautiful cascade of bells, piano and a slight wind instrument.

Track #31 (Pelicans) gives a nice fluttering woodwind sound, before delving into percussion instruments, piano, and a slight stroke of the string instruments. The percussion instruments give a flair to the relatively 'normal' instrumentation up til' now, though there is a slight electric instrumental rhythm underneath part of the track.

I could go on and on about the soundtrack and the film (seen it 4 times already!), but I'll leave the fun to you, the reader. However, a word of warning if you want to be surprised about the film: if you purchase the soundtrack, DON'T read all the track titles. Some will give away a few plot points that are better to discover up on that big movie screen.

Also this time, instead of an original single, 'Nemo' contains a new version of the song 'Beyond the Sea' sung by Robbie Williams. A nice jazzy piece, that fits well.

A few tracks also contain a short sound element from the film, that could possibly throw a few listeners for a loop, but their time is relatively short (one track contains about 15 seconds of underwater sound).

As an avid movie fan and former instrument player (piano and trumpet), I can safely say that this soundtrack is one of the few that is worthy of many a stereo and CD Player. Just when I thought nothing could dethrone 'Spirited Away' and Vanessa Carlton from my player, along comes Thomas Newman.

His style brings a nice change from his cousin Randy, and come 2004, we will soon be introduced to another new composer doing a PIXAR film. Word on The Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) is that John Barry (who arranged the James Bond theme from 'Dr. No') will be doing the score for Brad Bird's 2004 release 'The Incredibles.' One can only wonder what will happen next as PIXAR continues to evolve both in animation and music.

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