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Mary Poppins Returns
Album Cover Art
Composed, Lyrics Co-Written, and Co-Produced by:

Lyrics Co-Written by:
Scott Wittman

Co-Conducted and Supervised by:
Paul Gemignani

Co-Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Orchestrated by:
Jeff Atmajian
Doug Besterman
Michael Starobin
Danny Troob
Brad Dechter
Larry Blank
Julian Kershaw
John Kull

Additional Arrangements by:
David Krane

Consultation by:
Richard M. Sherman

Co-Produced by:
Rob Marshall
John DeLuca
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Walt Disney Records
(December 7th, 2018)
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Regular U.S. release.
The score was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy Award. The song "The Place Where Lost Things Go" was also nominated for an Academy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are any remote enthusiast of the classic Mary Poppins film, this sequel splendidly conveying the same buoyant optimism and endearing charm in Marc Shaiman's extremely intelligent continuation of the Sherman Brothers' legacy.

Avoid it... if you were one of those kids going around pre-school telling all the others that Santa Clause isn't real, for this soundtrack should prove itself an effective repellant for cynical, unimaginative assholes worldwide.
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WRITTEN 1/10/19
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Mary Poppins Returns: (Marc Shaiman) Among Walt Disney's most personally rewarding projects, 1964's Mary Poppins remains a unique triumph in the children's fantasy genre. Its adaptation from the P.L. Travers books brilliantly combined live-action and animated technologies and featured lasting musical numbers by the famed Sherman brothers (Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman) for lead performances by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The concept remains so memorable in the next century because of its buoyant charm, witty lyrics, and the distinct era of London life it represents. Disney has avidly sought to develop a sequel to Mary Poppins through the years, as there was plenty of material in the Travers books with which to gain inspiration. As the project congealed in the 2010's, attention turned to the undeniably formidable challenge the production was destined to face: How do you meet the excellent standards of the 1964 classic, including its airy optimism despite character distress, without losing the magical spirit of the original, the outstanding performance standards, and the formula of dance, animation, and musical required for the concept? The 2018 answer is director Rob Marshall's Mary Poppins Returns, a perfect blend of sequel and remake that manages to achieve the near-impossible, joining its predecessor as an equal meant to remind yet another generation to appreciate the positives in life regardless of hardship. Every character, concept, and song in the sequel is meant to be a variation of a similar equivalent from Mary Poppins, and such familiarity did bother some critics. But the formula still works wonders, and the production intelligently balances its clever reverence to the 1964 film, including hand-drawn animation, with splashes of new color sure to please concept loyalists. Thirty years after the prior film, the titular nanny once again teaches the Banks family, this time the children of those she had nannied before, how to love and persevere, with a Cockney lamplighter serving as the working-class representation of Dick Van Dyke's chimney sweep. They meander through imaginative worlds, meet quirky characters, and deal with the same bank as before, stopping to dance and sing along the way. The soundtrack once again plays a pivotal role in the success of the final product.

Among the composers active at the time, few choices to helm the weighty expectations of Mary Poppins Returns were better positioned than Marc Shaiman. While known in the film score world for several impactful and popular scores of the 1990's, Shaiman is also an accomplished songwriter for musicals on the stage. Most importantly, his effervescent style of writing perfectly suits the sound of the Sherman Brothers and arranger Irwin Kostal's score for the original. Shaiman is also one of the industry's most infectiously positive personalities, his outrageous sense of humor mingling with that of lyricist Scott Wittman for the songs of Mary Poppins Returns. There is a level of wit in the songs for this film that is so brilliant at times that even ten listens to the same song won't illuminate all the pithy connections and connotations. Kids will gloss over many of the lyrics, as the performances often explode at breakneck speed, but they are an intellectual joy for the adults to behold. Shaiman and Wittman worked in absolute terror that they would disrespect the original inspiration, but Richard M. Sherman did provide consultation to the team, and the end product is as respectful as anyone could possibly have made the sequel score. Interestingly, Sherman reportedly did not suggest any changes to Shaiman's work along the way, offering his support in full to the new material. The vocal talent is also critical to the credibility of Mary Poppins Returns, and leads Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda perform admirably in their singing roles. There will never be another Julie Andrews (who, incidentally, refused a cameo role in this movie), but if you accept that certainty, then Blunt's interpretation is about as accomplished as pragmatically possible. The character in the books is more sarcastic and narcissistic than most know, and Blunt's performance reflects that oddly endearing attitude better than Andrews did. There's a lack of obvious auto-tuning evident in the performances, and her natural inflection of key words is often outstanding. Miranda, meanwhile, is a consummate professional in this arena, and his "Hamilton" sensibilities prepare him well to adopt his role, even down to the intentionally awkward Cockney accent, a lasting but lovable criticism of Van Dyke from the first film. Miranda is not quite as flamboyant as Van Dyke in his facial mannerisms, but from a musical standpoint, his vocals function just as well.

The secondary singing talent in Mary Poppins Returns is generally well handled, the one exception being Meryl Streep's comparatively weak contribution. Even Van Dyke returns with appreciable zeal to perform a role related to his lesser-known one as a banker in the original. A cameo for Angel Lansbury offers the venerable actress the opportunity to perform a few grandmotherly lines that will warm the hearts of any Disney fan. As for the music itself, one can hardly separate the song melodies from the surrounding underscore and the Sherman Brothers references that exist throughout both. While all the new songs for Mary Poppins Returns feature fresh melodies, Shaiman constantly utilizes common progressions from the 1964 songs and occasionally intersperses direct references as needed. In fact, nearly every Sherman song melody receives a quotation in some fashion in this sequel, timed perfectly and lasting just long enough to make the required connections without overstaying their welcome. Kudos must be given to the fantastic orchestrations and enthusiastic performances by London musicians for the recording. Likewise, the mix of the symphonic elements is gorgeous, lush and engaging at all times while also allowing individual percussion soloists, among others, the opportunity to shine when needed. A somewhat wet mix generates a soundscape appropriate for a stage musical, and choral interludes are surprisingly impactful. Between the larger-than-life orchestrations and general major-key exuberance that prevails in nearly every corner of this work, you receive a distinctly Golden Age musical atmosphere that you simply don't hear in the 21st century. It doesn't hurt to have constant thematic development, of course, and this review will analyze each of the melodies in Mary Poppins Returns before extending that discussion to the surrounding underscore. In some cases, the songs and underscore are inextricable, just as the interpolations of the Sherman themes flow in and out with ease. The Disney awards promo for Shaiman's score is a bit humorous in these regards, because countless of his cues had to be truncated or cut apart to remove these Sherman references in order to showcase his original material. During the discussion of the score in this review, that digital-only promotional release will be analyzed as well; all claims that the original commercial album is complete are woefully erroneous.

The songs in Mary Poppins Returns open with Miranda's "(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky," which offers a snippet of "The Life I Lead" from Mary Poppins but is otherwise a new love long to the London location and the story as a whole. Miranda's character of Jack is, like his mentor, Bert, from the original, the somewhat omnipotent narrator privy to Poppins and clearly remembering his own encounter with her as a youth. The melody from this song accompanies many of the London-specific location shots in the movie and doubles as a fair-like identity for the exterior play scenes and offers a snare-tapping rhythm doubling for the industrial element and Jack's bicycle. Miranda's performance is attractive and contains a bit of flair in how he handles the melody's closing descending phrases. These three notes are among the many structural connections to the Sherman Brothers' work, in this case emulating the descending "most delightful way" phrase from "A Spoonful of Sugar." This song receives two reprises as Jack narrates the story, including an interlude in a score track, "Kite Takes Off," and the formal reprise to close out the film. The next song is one variant of a pair of ideas for loss that Shaiman composes for the Banks family; the songs "A Conversation" and "The Place Where Lost Things Go" share a common musical vocabulary, with "A Conversation" dwelling in the sadness while "The Place Where Lost Things Go" answering it with a slightly more upbeat sense of resolution, courtesy Mary and the Banks children. Unfortunately, "A Conversation" is somewhat lost in the entire equation, its source-like music box presence reprised only twice formally in the score and the song's vocals by Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks broken as an intentionally (and quite successful) tear-jerking technique. Disney collectors will hear a touch of Alan Menken melancholy in this song, especially during the interlude sequence ("Winter has gone..."). Fortunately, with the arrival of Mary, listeners get "Can You Imagine That?," this soundtrack's version of "A Spoonful of Sugar" that likewise translates into the Shaiman's dominant theme for the entire score. The concluding six notes of the melody (representing the title of the song) is everywhere in the soundtrack and supplies much of the overflowing optimism along the way. The song itself combines stately percussive rhythms with flowing harp figures for the watery element of the wonderous bathtub experience. The big band exposition in this song is so refreshing that you fail to notice that Blunt speaks many of her lines rather than singing them outright.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.98 Stars
***** 142 5 Stars
**** 97 4 Stars
*** 54 3 Stars
** 23 2 Stars
* 16 1 Stars
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No, the leeries should not dance nude in Mary Poppins
Allen - January 13, 2019, at 3:01 p.m.
1 comment  (1105 views)

Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 78:09
• 1. Underneath the Lovely London Sky - performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (3:47)
• 2. Overture (2:28)
• 3. A Conversation - performed by Ben Whishaw (2:42)
• 4. Can You Imagine That? - performed by Emily Blunt and Cast (4:22)
• 5. The Royal Doulton Music Hall - performed by Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Cast (3:01)
• 6. Introducing Mary Poppins - performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt (0:31)
• 7. A Cover is Not the Book - performed by Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Cast (4:25)
• 8. The Place Where Lost Things Go - performed by Emily Blunt (3:43)
• 9. Turning Turtle - performed by Meryl Streep and Cast (4:20)
• 10. Trip a Little Light Fantastic - performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt, and Cast (7:02)
• 11. The Place Where Lost Things Go (Reprise) - performed by Pixie Davies, Nathaniel Saleh, and Joel Dawson (1:30)
• 12. Trip a Little Light Fantastic (Reprise) - performed by Dick Van Dyke and Cast (0:46)
• 13. Nowhere to Go But Up - performed by Angela Lansbury, Ben Whishaw, and Cast (5:45)
• 14. Underneath the Lovely London Sky (Reprise) - performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (1:52)
• 15. Theme From Mary Poppins Returns (1:38)
• 16. Kite Takes Off (2:40)
• 17. Mary Poppins Arrives (1:41)
• 18. Magic Papers (1:33)
• 19. Banks in the Bank (0:43)
• 20. Into the Royal Doulton Bowl (1:58)
• 21. Rescuing Georgie (4:01)
• 22. Off to Topsy's (2:53)
• 23. Chase Through the Bank (1:11)
• 24. Lost in a Fog (0:59)
• 25. Goodbye Old Friend (2:32)
• 26. Race to Big Ben (4:55)
• 27. End Title Suite (5:12)

Notes Icon
The insert includes lyrics to every song and several notes about the score and film from the director and composer/lyricists. A Target exclusive version of the album also contains two collectible trading cards related to the film.
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Leerie dance scenes would be even more impressive if their entire adult cast performed them while nude.
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