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Comments about the soundtrack for Toy Story 2 (Randy Newman)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Jon Turner   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, August 27, 2007, at 8:07 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Jon Turner was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in August, 2007)

Toy Story 2: (Randy Newman) The toys are back in town, and so is, unsurprisingly, Randy Newman! While I only listen to Newman's works on occasion, such as Ragtime, A Bug's Life, and of course, the original Toy Story, I'm not much of a Newman fanatic (my co-mother is). Still, does Toy Story 2 go to, as Buzz best puts it, to infinity and beyond? The answer is undoubtably yes - and then some. Most scores that are sequels to films, in my opinion, should reuse themes from its predecessor, so that we know just where it is from. Newman wastes no time in recycling some of his themes for Toy Story 2. There's the epic Buzz Lightyear theme (given an exciting treatment on "Zurg's Planet", a spectacular space-symphony, which almost doesn't sound like Newman's style). In addition, there's a familiar bass guitar for Woody's theme appearing here and there, as well as the familiar Buzz flight theme.

Of course, there have to be new themes, too. There's a country-style theme that recalls James Horner's An American Tail: Fievel Goes West country-style cues, jumping up here and there occasionally. "Woody's Star" starts out beautifully, then ends up sounding like something out of Newman's Ragtime score. "Emperor Zurg vs. Buzz" is a deliciously dark and exciting piece of music with a couple of brief moments here and there. The action cues are also exciting, with a lot of wit and humor packed (which is what this kind of film requires). In addition, there's a brief swing interlude on "Use Your Head". Newman must've had fun making this score.

If there is a criticism to be made about the music, it may be its ability to change style here and there. One moment its melodic, one moment it sounds like a complete mess, and, when we least expect it, there are some occasional LOUD bursts from the orchestra. This is a thing true to Newman's original Toy Story and A Bug's Life, yet it must be a part of his style for writing scores. It's also not groundbreaking like some other film scores around here, but then, I don't expect such things to be found in every soundtrack. However, the score succeeds in being what it is intended to be: a rollickingly good child's score to go along with a kiddie movie. Due to its combination of wackiness, melodies, humor, and wit, this is a great "kiddie" score. Newman has done this sort of score for Toy Story and A Bug's Life, but those two scores were experiments without much experience. Toy Story 2, however, is Newman's crowning jewel in his children's scores because he's realized his abilities for a score of this type, and putting them to grand use.

As for the songs, only two of them are remarkable. "When She Loved Me" is pretty lame for a Newman song, and the lyrics and the vocalist don't make it much better. However, the opening track "Woody's Roundup" is a creation of genius. In the film, Woody is supposed to have a TV show with a theme song, and this song works perfectly for that level. And the vocals, Riders in the Sky, ham it up. The third song, "You've Got a Friend In Me" was first introduced in the original Toy Story, and I found it to be one of the very best songs Randy Newman has ever created. Well, here we get to hear it in two different renditions. The first, track 3, is a literally jazzed up version with a very cool vocalist (Robert Goulet). The second, is an instrumental version with a groovy saxophone solo.

Music aside, the sound quality isn't as great as in most high quality scores and the album, of course, isn't long enough. But then, we can't always expect a top notch score all the time. There's enough excitement, melodies, and overall entertainment to make Toy Story 2 worth your money, and musical ears. Randy Newman, you've done it again! ***

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