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Monsters, Inc.
Composed and Conducted by:
Randy Newman

Produced by:
Frank Wolf
Bruno Coon

Orchestrated by:
Jonathan Sacks
Ira Hearshen

Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
October 23rd, 2001

Also See:
Toy Story 2
A Bug's Life
Chicken Run

Audio Clips:
2. Monsters, Inc. (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

8. The Scare Floor (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

19. Exile (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (234K)
Real Audio (145K)

25. If I Didn't Have You (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

Regular U.S. release. A blister pack version was also available.

  The song "If I Didn't Have You" won an Academy Award and a Grammy Award. The score was also nominated for the same two awards.

Monsters, Inc.

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Sales Rank: 59223

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Buy it... if you loved Randy Newman's scores and songs for the Toy Story films and A Bug's Life, because Monsters, Inc. is a spirited extension of that same sound.

Avoid it... if you have a relatively low tolerance level for Newman's extremely predictable style and methodology, neither of which is substantially altered for this film.

Monsters, Inc.: (Randy Newman) A highly lovable tale about the city where all the monsters that live under the bed reside, Monsters, Inc. offered a formula for success that promised to rival the popularity of Shrek in 2001. The film was the fourth collaboration between Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar, earning a place alongside the two Toy Story films and A Bug's Life as superior entries in the new generation of computer-generated animation. And like those predecessors, Monsters, Inc. works its charms without the need for perpetual songs. After a number of years in the late 1980's and early 1990's when the realms of animation films and scores were defined by the pairing of Walt Disney and composer Alan Menken, the late 1990's and early 2000's experienced a splintering of the animation world. With Dreamworks, Fox, and Pixar all joining Disney in the animated filmmaking scene, several different composers began competing in a rivalry of quality film music for the genre. For Dreamworks, it was John Powell. For Fox, shortly, it was David Newman. For Disney and Pixar, it was Randy Newman. For Disney's dramatic side, it was James Newton Howard. In the periphery of straight-to-video releases were John Debney and Joel McNeely. Eventually, the battle for the most attention in the animation music scene came down to the vastly different styles of Powell (and often his cohort Harry Gregson-Williams) and Randy Newman. Film music fans who value the scores for these often wacky animation films took a strong liking to Powell's style, which melded large orchestral ensembles with state of the art electronics. Fickle mainstream audiences (and those who by far purchase the most albums), however, were still more interested in the songs because of lingering desire for musicals, and in the era of Monsters, Inc., nobody wrote more popular songs for the genre than Newman. His lazy jazz was synonymous with Disney and Pixar pictures in the days before Thomas Newman's involvement, and little kids and their parents seemed to love it each and every time.

In fact, Randy Newman was so popular from his widespread awards and public appearances that his Monsters, Inc. album initially performed strongly even with the mighty competition from another soundtrack album that was released on the same day: John Williams' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Even against such odds, Newman excelled. In a year of extremely strong competition, Monsters, Inc. was nominated by the Academy for both its score and song, winning the latter award after years of frustrating loses for Newman. But why all the love? Randy Newman was to Disney music in 2001 what Miss Cleo was for television psychics. In other words, whenever you mentioned Disney music to the day's 8-year-olds and their parents, that Randy Newman sound automatically popped into their minds. Even later in the decade, the same was generally true. His slurring voice and upbeat, jazzy scores had become a sort of icon. The sound certainly works in the films, and it's a seemingly faultless marketing combination. Lost in the mix, though, was the fact that Newman was still, after all is said and done, a master of songwriting. His scores for these animation flicks are cute and, of course, appropriate. But just as Alan Menken began doing in his waning years at the Disney music helm, Newman eventually started rehashing the same work that fans had heard in Toy Story and A Bug's Life. He failed to take any chances in Monsters, Inc., causing it become a predictable, mindless, and borderline boring listening experience, especially compared to the refreshing attitude of A Bug's Life. Newman retained the same moderately sized orchestral ensemble, acoustical elements, jazz band, and his own piano and produced essentially the music that we had heard before. And with Leatherheads in 2008, we'd hear a slightly more vintage and dramatic variant of the same material. In a few noteworthy places, Newman borrows a quote from a classical piece or an old Bernard Herrmann staple, but even in his comedic interpolations of existing themes, the orchestra treats the composition in a flat, procedural way.

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The ensemble's performances yield none of the same energy that you hear from the animation scores of Powell and Howard of the era. For works such as Chicken Run and Atlantis, the players sound as though they intentionally congregated to perform an awesome piece of work, and that enthusiasm can be heard in the final product. For the Randy Newman scores, as they progress up to Monsters, Inc., the players become increasingly devoid of that exuberance. There's nothing functionally wrong with Newman's style of writing or its general application to the picture, but without any snazzy new avenue of thought, the music quickly becomes evidence of a composer on autopilot. There's simply nothing in Monsters, Inc. to eclipse what was similarly done in Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life. The most frustrating aspect of Monsters, Inc. is its failure to even try to take advantage of all the creative liberties that the storyline offered it. Newman takes no chances in his instrumentation or themes, not even inserting the wacky percussive elements that a film such as this could have really used. Instead, we hear generic Newman jazz that would perfectly accompany Saturday morning cartoons on television. Even more disappointing about Monsters, Inc. is the unfortunate fact that the title song, despite its Oscar, isn't very appealing. "If I Didn't Have You" drags along without the zip that listeners had come to expect (and even demand) from Newman. By comparison, the song for A Bug's Life is a fun, alluring, and vivacious composition, enjoyable both in its vocal and instrumental versions. Once again, both the song and score are perfectly fine for Monsters, Inc., and Newman was indeed overdue for winning an Oscar for his body of work through the years. But if Disney has visions of ever winning another Academy Award for a score, then punting on Newman was likely a prerequisite. The album for Monsters, Inc. is generous in its presentation of the score, with over 50 minutes of orchestral material available, and no modern pop songs to spoil the mix. Still, it's a disappointing product overall given Newman's lack of stylistic alteration in light of so many possibilities. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Randy Newman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.06 (in 18 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.04 (in 21,268 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.99 Stars
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 60:41

• 1. If I Didn't Have You - performed by Billy Crystal/John Goodman (3:41)
• 2. Monsters, Inc. (2:09)
• 3. School (1:38)
• 4. Walk to Work (3:29)
• 5. Sulley and Mike (1:57)
• 6. Randall Appears (0:49)
• 7. Enter the Heroes (1:03)
• 8. The Scare Floor (2:41)
• 9. Oh, Celia! (1:09)
• 10. Boo's Adventures in Monstropolis (6:23)
• 11. Boo's Tired (1:03)
• 12. Putting Boo Back (2:22)
• 13. Boo Escapes! (0:52)
• 14. Celia's Mad (1:41)
• 15. Boo is a Cube (2:19)
• 16. Mike's in Trouble (2:19)
• 17. The Scream Extractor (2:12)
• 18. Sulley Scares Boo (1:10)
• 19. Exile (2:17)
• 20. Randall's Attack (2:22)
• 21. The Ride of the Doors (5:08)
• 22. Waternoose is Waiting (3:14)
• 23. Boo's Going Home (3:34)
• 24. Kitty (1:20)
• 25. If I Didn't Have You - performed by Randy Newman (3:38)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains lyrics, extensive credits, and an advertisement poster for other products related to the film, but no information about the score or film... Par for the course.

  All artwork and sound clips from Monsters, Inc. are Copyright © 2001, Walt Disney Records. 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 10/30/01 and last updated 1/24/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2001-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.