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Comments about the soundtrack for Titanic (James Horner)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
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• Posted by: Zachary Behrendt   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Saturday, February 23, 2008, at 5:51 p.m.
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(The following donated review by Zachary Behrendt was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in February, 2008. It was originally review #2 on the Titanic page, referred to most often in this comment section. It was also famous for its mentioning in Entertainment Weekly's review of Filmtracks in its October 2000 issue)

Titanic: (James Horner) I have publicly expressed my hatred for James Horner to a great many people. I don't just 'dislike' him, mind you. I HATE him. You know, the kind of hatred that makes you clench your jaw and growl. Whether its his disturbingly blatant repetition of cues and themes or his rancid attempts at electronics, my hatred for Horner grows with every film he scores. And believe me when I say that the day James Cameron signed James Horner to score his ridiculously overrated idealistic egomaniacal wet dream, commonly referred to as Titanic, was a miserable day. A miserable day, indeed.

When I first popped in the cd, I knew I was in for it. How did I know, you ask? Because of the main theme. I swear, every time I hear it I get this urge to punch somebody. Bop bop... that's all it is. Bop bop friggin' bop, over and over again. After hearing it for the first time I said, "Okay, that sucked, but maybe it's a one-time deal, like 'Payback Time' from Ottman's The Usual Suspects, only really bad." I was young and naive. Foolish, even. Now I don't know if that's an electronic choir or not, but if it is, I have one question for Mr. Horner: WHY? WHY?!! WWWWHHHHYYYY?!!!! Why in the name of all that is good and decent in this world did he have to use the shrillest, most irritating synthesized choral effects as the CENTERPIECE of his theme?!!!

Now I'm not one to talk bad about metal clangs. Metal clangs add a twisted, primal, almost unnatural flavor to music. I enjoy David Arnold's use of metal clangs, as well as Zimmer's and Debney's. But James Horner simply cannot pull off the metal clang. They sucked in Aliens, they sucked in Willow, and boy do they suck here. There is absolutely no reason for those damned metal clangs in this score. They actually detract from the excitement of the action, much like they did in 'Escape from the Tavern' in Willow. They're overused, lifeless, brainless and pointless.

And then there's the bagpipes... James Horner just LOOOOOOOOOVES his bagpipes, doesn't he? Now they make sense in Braveheart, where the entire movie is about the people of and battle for SCOTLAND!!! But they do not belong in a movie about a big boat that sinks. The weepy drone of those stupid bagpipes makes me sick to my stomach. They exist merely to manipulate the emotions of the audience because the horrible dialogue and atrocious acting fails to accomplish it. Someone needs to tell Mr. Horner that film music is meant to accompany and enhance the emotions of the film, not upstage them.

After about the thirty-minute mark the action picks up, the bagpipes shut up, and the metal starts clanging. And we are thrown into the cold, icy bitterness that is James Horner action music. Man, do I get excited when the orchestra flails about pointlessly from cue to cue, scene to scene. When he scores action pieces, Horner becomes like a bad Foley artist, crashing and smashing around in hopes that his efforts are at least in sync with the action of the film. His hopes generally go unfulfilled.

Well, when it was all said and done, and all 70-some-odd minutes of pain and suffering were finally over, I had an overwhelming desire to smash the cd with my forehead. Luckily I resisted, because the disk makes for a good coaster, the inserts are fun to tear up and burn, and the jewel case can be recycled for storing John Tesh cds. Honestly, am I the only one who simply detests this score? Am I missing something? Is there some sort of hidden meaning embedded deeply between the bagpipes and bop bops and metal clangs? I just don't get how anyone, anywhere, can even come close to enjoying this relentlessly repulsive score. It won an Oscar, people. How good can it really be? *

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