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The Princess Diaries
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
John Debney

Orchestrated by:
Brad Dechter
Frank Bennett
Chris Klatman
Don Nemitz

Co-Produced by:
Michael Mason

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
December 11, 2001

Also See:
Cats & Dogs

Audio Clips:
1. Main Titles (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

12. Scooter Talk (0:34):
WMA (220K)  MP3 (274K)
Real Audio (171K)

23. The Kiss (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

25. Princess Diaries Medley (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release, but out of print as of 2008. A song compilation was released concurrently for the same film.


The Princess Diaries
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Our Price: $17.49
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Sales Rank: 21242

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Buy it... if you still have enough innocent prepubescent mentality to find John Debney's dainty and classically-inclined (but sufficiently contemporary) music to be a rewardingly upbeat experience.

Avoid it... if scores constructed purely out of cotton candy give you nothing more than heartburn.

The Princess Diaries: (John Debney) The story of The Princess Diaries has been around for decades, but Walt Disney Pictures gave it a royal makeover and aimed it at prepubescent kids and teenagers alike in this 2001 film adaptation. The Disney version starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews relies on charm and elegance to win the hearts of the audience rather than the typical slapstick kind of attractions being used in similarly targeted films. Energetic, predictable, and often far-fetched, the franchise-inducing film did modernize the story by using a selection of contemporary songs to heighten its appeal to young girls, and many of these songs were placed on the obligatory soundtrack compilation album. The film's genuine heart, however, necessitated a gentle fairy tale underscore, and John Debney was the Disney's usual man for this type of job. Attempting to avoid corniness wherever possible, Debney's task was to score a fantasy teen romance flick in royal settings with only a moderately sized orchestral ensemble and a handful of extremely short cue spots in which to do it. The score needed to fit the film in pieces that were typically no longer than a minute, making it more difficult to produce a coherent whole. The end result of Debney's tinkering is the score that anyone could have easily expected all along. For a straight forward and surprisingly un-hip approach to the The Princess Diaries story, Debney's score is equally square and conservative. Aside from the work's fragmented placement, the most difficult aspect of Debney's job was to combine his modern light guitar work with the waltz rhythmed orchestral representation of royalty (which is a stereotype that nearly anyone can buy into since waltzes exhibit an atmosphere of snobbery that functions perfectly for current ears). The instrumentation extends to the extensive use of a piano for the normal family setting, light synthetic percussion for the contemporary interactions, and even, strangely, a harmonica for short contribution of lamentation. The drawbacks of the score are few, but they typically involve the attempt by Debney to "royalize" his material to suit young Mia Thermopolis' discovery that she'll be the queen of an obscure European country.

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The theme that Debney employs for the film compensates for the score's choppy entrances and exits by going into overkill in its application. Its statements are numerous and seemingly constant, inserted into nearly every cue in some form or another. The most remarkable quality of the simple, elegant theme is Debney's ability to make it flexible enough to fit into everything from a solo piano performance to a full blown waltz. Its prominent role in the film translates into several enjoyable cues on the album; Debney has arranged the cues so that you get a rotating taste of his material in a wide range of rhythm and instrumentation. The opening and closing cues, with the theme accompanied by an official head of state snare, are the highlights. The light guitar music, representing the budding romance between the princess and a friend, is also a highlight. Staying true to the spirit of both Julie Andrews and the film's unwavering goodness, Debney's music borders on becoming tedious in its consistently fluffy major-key prancing. Several almost parody-level rips of techniques common to classical music are also somewhat tiresome. The softer performances of the theme, most often performed by piano with light percussion, are a more enjoyable listen apart from the film than the dramatic flights of fancy by the whole orchestra, though their merging in "Mia's Decision" is a highlight. The pieces serving as source music, such as "Mia Visits the Consulate" and "Harp Interlude," break up the contemporary appeal that the score otherwise puts forth. That duality, though, was inevitable, and Debney should be commended anyway for his functionally light-hearted and appealing work for The Princess Diaries. The score was unlike Debney's numerous comedy efforts of the era, such as the slapsticky Cats & Dogs prior in the year, and could be classified as a straight romance score. The album is short in length, reflecting the concentration by Disney on the separate song compilation album. There really isn't a reason to hear more of this score, however, and for a plethora of reasons, it's surprising to see it on its own album at all. While it won't appeal to the majority of film score enthusiasts, those of you who are sappy Rachel Portman or Patrick Doyle fans may find considerable merit in its thematic simplicity and upbeat performances. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Debney reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.23 (in 49 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.97 (in 43,790 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.44 Stars
Smart Average: 3.35 Stars*
***** 168 
**** 181 
*** 161 
** 74 
* 75 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
  N.R.Q. -- 7/31/06 (7:20 a.m.)
   Re: John Debney is a religious freak!!
  joshq -- 12/27/05 (4:31 p.m.)
   John Debney is a religious freak!!
  Melion -- 7/10/05 (12:31 p.m.)
   Re: Micheal's Band's song
  christina -- 12/12/04 (11:41 a.m.)
   Micheal's Band's song
  Lindsay -- 12/17/03 (5:13 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 30:32

• 1. Main Titles (0:56)
• 2. Queen Clarisse (0:53)
• 3. Mia Invites Lilly to the Ball (1:08)
• 4. The Princess Diaries Waltz (2:09)
• 5. Mia's Makeover (1:08)
• 6. Princess Lessons (0:55)
• 7. A New Mia (1:05)
• 8. Mia Flees (0:53)
• 9. Sorry, Dad (0:32)
• 10. Lana, The Traitor (1:01)
• 11. Mia Visits the Consulate (1:18)
• 12. Scooter Talk (0:58)
• 13. I Don't Want to Be a Princess (0:37)
• 14. Father Talk (1:00)
• 15. The Ball (0:37)
• 16. Meeting the Prime Minister (1:03)
• 17. A Letter from the King (1:16)
• 18. It's a Real Job (1:02)
• 19. Mia's Decision (2:18)
• 20. Learning to Walk (1:42)
• 21. Mia Apologizes (0:44)
• 22. Can I Call You Joe? (0:58)
• 23. The Kiss (1:18)
• 24. Harp Inetrlude (1:24)
• 25. Princess Diaries Medley (3:25)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains a list of performers, but no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Princess Diaries 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 1/28/02 and last updated 2/1/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2002-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.