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Comments about the soundtrack for Tarzan (Phil Collins/Mark Mancina)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Jon Turner   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 6:56 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Jon Turner was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in June, 2008)

Tarzan: (Phil Collins/Mark Mancina) For the first time since The Jungle Book and The Lion King, we return to the jungle. Disney has taken this trip many times, and hasn't altogether failed. But never before has it made us actually feel as if we are in the jungle until Tarzan came swingin' along. I was a bit skeptical when I first bought the CD. The people Disney chose to record the music are unusual (and unfamiliar). In other words, I've never really heard of Phil Collins, who does the songs for Tarzan. I recognized Mark Mancina from his work on the Broadway version of The Lion King, but I never really saw him compose a score for any film that I've seen. For a moment, I was thinking, was I going to be ripped off? Is this going to be another Hercules (a fear that has concerned me, since I was so ticked off at that effort.)? As it turned out, those were entirely the wrong questions. Don't let your anticipation get the best of you, and you'll be quite surprised; Tarzan is not bad at all for what it is.

Now that I've given the album a listen, where should I begin in writing this review? Well, one way would be to start with Phil Collins' songs. These are no ordinary Disney animated feature songs. This is a point to be realized upon hearing the opening song (and the main theme, since it is reprised twice), "Two Worlds." It starts out quietly, with small little African drum impressions. Then, these rhythms turn into a rocking beat, and the music becomes dark and furious. We hear Phil Collins' high-pitched, but not too annoying singing voice, performing "Put your faith in what you most believe in/Two worlds, one family/Trust your heart/Let fate decide/To guide these lives we see." This definitely doesn't sound like a song to come from a Disney animated feature, but that is more of a compliment than an insult.

"You'll Be In My Heart" is a beautiful lullaby. It's also a nice brief break after the first rocking song. The biggest surprise is that we hear a brief vocal performance from Glenn Close! I never thought that Glenn Close could sing, but this was a treat (she has a pretty voice). The rest of the song is basically sung by Phil Collins. It's one of the album's best songs. "Son of Man" sounds like a jamming, rocking Beatles-style song. Rarely does a Disney animated feature have such songs, but this is an example of how different Tarzan is from most Disney soundtracks. You'll be moving to it from the first seconds of it. "Strangers Like Me" starts out along the same way, but it has a brief, slow, pretty interlude about three-quarters of the way through the song.

If there was any song on Tarzan I'd call interesting, it would be "Trashin' The Camp". Here, we get human style sound effects, such as a typewriter, glass breaking, pots, pans, kettles, etc. for percussion. But that's not the point of the song. What's different about it is that the singers (including Rosie O'Donnell) don't actually sing, but scat "Shoo-be-doo da-be-da da-be-doo-ba-dee-dah" over and over again. This is a very cool song, all right. Phil Collins must have had fun writing it. The 'N Sync version is also neat, and a treat for 'N Sync fans. I'm honestly not a 'N Sync fan, but this rendition is surprisingly neat. Too bad it ends so soon, though. Phil Collins does renditions of "You'll Be In My Heart" and "Two Worlds". The "Two Worlds" arrangement sounds identical to the original, with less "ethnic" percussion and more rock 'n roll instruments. The "You'll Be In My Heart" rendition didn't impress me at first; it's more rocking than beautiful, but it really grew on me as it went on.

But what about the musical score by Mark Mancina? Well, I was sort of doubtful about this choice because I was hoping Disney would hire Jerry Goldsmith to do the score again (like he did for Mulan). However, when I listened to the score, I was quite surprised; it is not bad at all. It almost sounds a lot like The Lion King, mainly due to the fact that it uses African percussion and sounds "darker" and more mature than most Disney underscores. Instead of being a rehash or ripoff of The Lion King, it is completely original and evocative. It ranges from extremely beautiful (check out "One Family") to furious and rocking ("The Gorillas"). The one thing that makes this score similar to most Disney scores is that it takes Phil Collins' songs and incorporates them into the music. This has been done countless times, but Mark Mancina manages to pull off this effect instead of churning out a happy, sugar coated, typical child's score. And the use of a chorus here and there is pretty nice, too.

I would highly recommend this album, except it is not long enough and there isn't enough of the score (hopefully there'll be an expanded release someday, like they did with the promo for Mulan, but who knows if that will happen?). Also, although this is an interesting, different soundtrack, I won't hold it high the way I do with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan (Sorry, folks). Still, Tarzan is not bad at all for what it is. I give a nod to Disney for following up the musical masterpiece that was Mulan with this rocking, dazzling musical jungle adventure.

    Score: ****
    Songs: ****
    Commercial Album: ***
    Overall Rating: ***

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