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Section Header
The Bucket List
Composed and Produced by:
Marc Shaiman

Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Orchestrated by:
Jeff Atmajian

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
January 15th, 2008

Also See:
The American President
City Slickers
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut

Audio Clips:
11. The Mountain (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. End Credits (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

14. City Slickers (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

22. Goldfinger (aka "Printmaster") (0:33):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (199K)

Regular U.S. release. Warner Brothers released a "for your consideration" promo of 24 minutes of Shaiman's score (along with John Mayer's song, "Say") to awards voters in December of 2007. This album has no titles for its ten score tracks and features a generic white studio promo cover.


The Bucket List

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Buy it... if you appreciate the personality of both Marc Shaiman and his music, because this compilation album is a tribute to his heartfelt sensibilities, remarkable performance abilities, and enduring sense of humor.

Avoid it... if you expect the score for The Bucket List alone to carry the weight of this album, because it's tastefully restrained but underwhelming music that cannot compete with the depth of Shaiman's better scores.

The Bucket List: (Marc Shaiman) The star power of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman was too attractive for mediocre critical response to dampen audience enthusiasm over Rob Reiner's late 2007 comedy The Bucket List. Although lacking in its realistic depiction of those who struggle with terminal cancer, the film was charming enough to turn its $45 million budget into over $170 million at the box office, testimony to the appeal of especially Nicholson in his years of semi-retirement. The leads play men diagnosed with cancer severe enough to kill them within months, and they befriend in the hospital despite coming from completely different socio-economic backgrounds. The auto mechanic played by Freeman is eventually adopted (in a way) by Nicholson's wealthy executive, and when the former creates a list of activities he wishes experience before he dies, the latter latches on to the idea and decides to bankroll trips around the world and other fun excursions. They become close enough to confide in each other their major failings in life, and through their few short months together, they manage to repair the strained familial relationships that haunted them. A redemptive tear-jerking conclusion is the norm for such films, and Reiner doesn't disappoint with The Bucket List. The director has always been fond of composer Marc Shaiman, going back to the early 1990's when Reiner gave the composer his first big break. Shaiman, after accumulating five Oscar nominations in the subsequent decade, became one of many primarily song writers and arrangers-turned-composers to grow weary of the studio system and its effects on music in film. He suffered several setbacks in the 2000's, mostly related to rejected scores or assignments cut short, and he has not been quiet about his discontent with the modern industry of film music (including gut-bustingly funny jabs at the Hans Zimmer clone factory). Fortunately, the incredible humor that has always defined Shaiman's personality has allowed his criticism to transcend the usual haze of malcontent complaints and he redirected his career with great success when focusing his efforts in the 2000's on the Broadway musical adaptation of Hairspray (and the subsequent translation of that concept back onto screen). Many will argue that Shaiman is most at home in the environment of song writing, and winning a Tony Award for his efforts for the stage seems more satisfying in many ways that an Oscar win would have been for him. Still, those dispirited by Shaiman's absence from the big screen were heartened to see that Reiner returned to the composer for a predictably saccharine score for The Bucket List.

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There's nothing revolutionary to be heard in Shaiman's output for The Bucket List. It's a lovely little jazz and light drama score for soloists over tasteful orchestral recordings consisting primarily of strings but also occasionally utilizing subtle woodwinds and brass. Acoustic guitar, trumpet, harp, and saxophone are the usual suspects, though it's the piano performances that really earn this score its stars. Thematically, Shaiman doesn't allow the music to overflow with emotional gravity in a way someone like Rachel Portman might allow, instead exercising restraint even at the film's most melancholy or redemptive moments. The primary thematic identity wafts through the room with remarkable ease, exhibiting the heart that Shaiman's more dramatic scores exude without ever relying upon volume to jerk those tears from the audience. As such, the victory of experience and human bonding is a tad bittersweet in The Bucket List, on album developing into a listening experience much like the sequences in between the major ensemble performances in Shaiman's deservingly popular The American President. Only a few source cues in the middle of the score break up the flow of a presentation that gains traction as it approaches its final cues. The "End Credits" track contains the most well-rounded arrangement of the score's ideas, performed by trumpet and piano over an orchestral ensemble that finally makes clear use of woodwind and brass elements for depth and/or noble counterpoint. Ironically, this cue was replaced on screen by John Mayer's "Say," a song unfortunately not included on the soundtrack album. On the whole, The Bucket List is a decent, innocuous, and short score that couldn't sustain an album on its own, so Varèse Sarabande worked with Shaiman to include piano renditions of some of the composer's most famous themes for the latter half of the product. Shaiman often creates lyrics for the themes of his scores (some of which hilarious) and the one from The American President is turned into a pretty choral and piano tribute to, of all things, farming. Shaiman's ability to so precisely perform difficult ideas from City Slickers and The Addams Family with outstanding emphasis is remarkable, making his contributions with ensemble for The Bucket List (a first for the composer) seem like child's play. His synthesizer and vocal performance of John Barry's Goldfinger theme is pure Shaiman at his best, yielding just one of his many funny commentaries about the industry. Finally, this review can't conclude without a special mention of agent Richard Kraft's lengthy and equally entertaining note (in the CD's insert) about working with Shaiman over all these years. Together, the entire package will bring a smile to the face of anyone who appreciates Shaiman and his music, despite the fact that The Bucket List by itself is modestly mundane. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ***
    Music as Heard on the Compilation Album: ****
    Overall: ***

Bias Check:For Marc Shaiman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 8 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.02 (in 18,352 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.77 Stars
Smart Average: 2.88 Stars*
***** 14 
**** 18 
*** 20 
** 17 
* 25 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 49:56

The Bucket List:
• 1. Hospital Hallway (0:49)
• 2. Like Smoke Through a Keyhole (1:59)
• 3. Best in L.A. (1:21)
• 4. Really Bad News (1:50)
• 5. La Vie en Rose (source) (2:26)
• 6. Hotel Source (1:14)
• 7. Did You Hear It? (2:24)
• 8. Flying Home (1:17)
• 9. Homecomings (3:29)
• 10. Life and Death (3:54)
• 11. The Mountain (2:22)
• 12. End Credits (3:54)

Memory Lane (Junk in My Trunk): (performed by Marc Shaiman)
• 13. A Seed of Grain (Theme from The American President) - co-performed by The Clurman Singers (3:10)
• 14. City Slickers (2:29)
• 15. Simon Birch (2:13)
• 16. The Addams Family (1:33)
• 17. Mother (1:07)
• 18. North (2:12)
• 19. A Wink and a Smile (from Sleepless in Seattle) (2:22)
• 20. Blame Canada (from South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut) (1:46)
• 21. Mr. Saturday Night (2:24)
• 22. Goldfinger (aka "Printmaster") - written by John Barry, Anthony Newley, and Leslie Bricusse (2:14)
• 23. What Makes a Family (Theme from Stuart Saves His Family) (1:29)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a wealth of information, including lyrics, a list of performers, a note from the composer, and a lengthy, entertaining note about Shaiman's career from agent Richard Kraft.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Bucket List are Copyright © 2008, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 10/21/10 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.