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Solo: A Star Wars Story
Album Cover Art
2018 Disney
2020 Disney
Album 2 Cover Art
Co-Composed, Adapted, and Produced by:

Co-Composed and Co-Conducted by:

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Co-Conducted by:
Vanya Moneva
George Strezov

Additional Music by:
Batu Sener
Anthony Willis
Paul Mounsey

Co-Orchestrated by:
John Ashton Thomas
Geoff Lawson
Tommy Laurence
Andrew Kinney
Randy Kerber
Rick Giovinazzo

Additionally Orchestrated by:
Herbert W. Spencer
Mark Graham
Gregory Jamrok
Victor Pesavento
Paul Henning
Labels Icon
Walt Disney Records
(May 25th, 2018)

Walt Disney Records (Deluxe)
(November 20th, 2020)
Availability Icon
The 2018 album was a regular U.S. release. The 2020 "Deluxe Edition" is an unlimited, digital-only commercial release with high-resolution options.
The cue "Mine Mission" was nominated for a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you seek proof that "Star Wars" music can thrive brilliantly after the exit of John Williams from the stage, John Powell providing an extremely satisfying career highlight that successfully blends the undeniable Williams' legacy with his own best mannerisms.

Avoid it... if you expect this score to cure your toenail fungus, because there's no rational reason for any film music collector to shun this magnificent work.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 6/14/18, REVISED 5/3/21
Solo: A Star Wars Story: (John Powell/John Williams/Various) While the Marvel Cinematic Universe proved itself immune to the fatigue of over-saturation in the 2010's, the vaunted "Star Wars" saga was not so lucky. Since Walt Disney Studios' takeover of the concept from George Lucas, an anthology of "Star Wars Stories" appeared in short order, and fans made it clear through unexpectedly poor box office returns that the saga was perhaps too sacred to plunder so frequently. There is an overarching problem with the "Star Wars" universe that 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story perpetuates, one of pessimism and loss that has robbed much of the spirited, buoyant enthusiasm of the original trilogy. Like its contemporaries in the franchise, the Han Solo film is a downer, once again conveying that galaxy far, far away in a frighteningly troubled light. Not once in this franchise's feature films has there ever been a successful romance between two beings. Think about that for a moment. While Solo: A Star Wars Story contains fewer unsatisfying deaths of major characters than its predecessor, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the 2018 entry sees all three of its major male characters lose their leading ladies in its plot, projecting an already gloomy set of narratives into yet another brief snippet of "Star Wars" chronology. These films have become surprisingly depressing from the romantic perspective of a space opera, and Solo: A Star Wars Story was poised to lose Disney significant amounts of money as a result. The film was another production nightmare in the franchise, director Ron Howard stepping in for Disney (and Lucas, who remains involved) to reshoot most of the film after the studio realized the product had major problems. Howard does reasonably well with the material, providing several absolutely riotous action scenes led by a monumentally entertaining train heist sequence. The film also contains the requisite nuggets referencing the larger "Star Wars" universe, including a couple of characters from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. (The appearance of Warwick Davis in a cameo speaking role here is highly redemptive.)

Questionable acting performances, including Alden Ehrenreich inevitably failing as a young Harrison Ford, oddly paced sequences of character interactions, the infusion of civil rights concerns involving droids, and the aforementioned depressing overall demeanor of the affair dampen the movie's promise. Fortunately, the ills of Solo: A Star Wars Story did not stop composer John Powell from delivering a masterpiece of a score for the film. If you had generated several dozen possible outcomes for this score, perhaps the best available option prevailed, with the franchise maestro, John Williams, returning to write two themes for Han Solo and Powell then enthusiastically adapting them into his original score. Powell, whose output waned in the decade as he could carefully choose his involvements at this point in his career, was drawn to the assignment in part because of Williams' agreement to provide the film's main identity, admitting that it would be an honor to work with a man who he deemed the "Yoda of film music." (It also helped that Hans Zimmer, when approached by Howard when he took the helm, encouraged the director to stick with Powell.) Of course, with Powell often comes an army of ghostwriters, and there are three additional crew members credited with writing or adapting music for the film. It's fascinating to hear Powell channel his lifelong passion for the "Star Wars" concept into his own methodology without losing the key tenants of the franchise's music. Michael Giacchino took an extremely conservative approach to handling the adaptation of Williams' mannerisms in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, writing music that emulated the maestro (as Giacchino has done throughout his career) to such a degree that the resulting score was caught in the "sounds like Williams but isn't" category of sufficiency but deficiency. Powell better manages to adapt Williams sound firmly into his own confort zone, producing an overall musical voice that is a third Williams, a third Powell's X-Men-inspired action, and a third Powell's romanticism from the memorable How to Train Your Dragon scores. The combination works brilliantly, the reverence to Williams highly effective without ever sounding awkward.

The music for Solo: A Star Wars Story is evidence of a composer at the top of his game, Powell's themes impressively developed and his adaptations cleverly executed in most instances. There is writing in this score that is simply divine in its complexity yet fluid, tonal accessibility. Powell didn't write the standalone thematic suites that Giacchino did in his assignment; rather, he concentrated on supplying a really powerful musical narrative that often makes the most of each scene's capabilities. The tone of the recording is key to this success; electronic embellishment and manipulation is held to a minimum, the symphony gorgeously breathing life into a wet, live mix that is infinitely more engaging than Giacchino's comparatively stale recordings. The impact of the mix of Powell's recording for Solo: A Star Wars Story cannot be understated. It's often tricky to emphasize individual performers, especially on woodwinds, when a score is supplied a vibrantly live ambience. But that slightly echoing fantasy tone is perfectly captured in this score, one begging for a surround sound listening experience on its own. (Note that Powell did adjust the mix of the score for his "Deluxe Edition" album release, occasionally diminishing some elements.) The standard Powell reliance on percussion is the most glaring difference between the composer's own style and the Williams/Giacchino methodology despite Williams' incorporation of them in the prequels to a greater degree. The rowdy percussion section in Solo: A Star Wars Story confirms this as a solidly Powell effort from start to finish. It's intriguing to compare the Powell crew's London recording of the Han Solo thematic material with Williams' actual concert arrangement of those themes with a Los Angeles ensemble. The Williams composition, conducted by the 86-year-old maestro himself, reflects his usual precision of orchestration and style, clearly extending his stately rebel material from Star Wars: The Last Jedi into a pair of identities for the beloved scoundrel that culminate in yet another suite with a false crescendo conclusion at the end, a Williams trademark. Powell takes that inspiration and maintains Williams' flourishes on woodwinds, triplets on trumpets, and frantic figures on celli while expressing the themes amongst his own preferred mix of ingredients.

The learned ear can hear the legacy of Williams' phrasing and orchestrations all over the score for Solo: A Star Wars Story despite its clear classification in the Powell realm, and it wouldn't be surprising if many listeners gravitate towards Powell's treatment of the Han themes more often than Williams' formal arrangements. The instrumental pallet for Powell ranges wildly in its accents throughout the work, abrasive choral tones for one set of characters, a loungey, almost retro ambience for another, and strikingly brutal and dissonant explosions of action at the height of one chase scene. The choral element is judiciously applied, though there is an over-the-top expression of glorious grandeur by the singers for the introduction of the famed Millennium Falcon. Two highlight cues utilize the deep male choral tones of Williams' prequel scores. Together, these contributors supply the perfect tone for each of the score's many themes, most of which new for this story. Powell's ability to swing seemingly effortlessly between his own themes and classic identities from decades ago is owed to his keen ability to maintain uninterrupted momentum and consistent instrumentation while jumping from motif to motif. Before diving into the great depth of themes for Solo: A Star Wars Story, it needs to be recognized that this film is the first "Star Wars" feature not to reference Williams' theme for the Force, a lasting identity that come to represent the franchise just as much as the title fanfare. Since there was arguably no place for it in this narrative, the absence of that theme, which some will argue became overused by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is a relief. No need to force it in there without reason. Instead, since Han Solo and Chewbacca never had themes of their own from Williams prior to this entry, the major holdover from the earlier scores is the rebel motif that is a secondary portion of the main "Star Wars" theme. This application makes sense given that Williams himself eventually came to associate this identity with the famous spaceships of the franchise; it thus becomes pervasive in many guises as Powell supplies the idea for the Falcon. Listen for Powell's flirtation with the idea as Han and Lando face off twice in cards over ownership of the vessel; the subtle woodwind allusions to the rebel fanfare here for the Falcon are nothing less than sublime.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.16 Stars
***** 444 5 Stars
**** 184 4 Stars
*** 99 3 Stars
** 65 2 Stars
* 27 1 Stars
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Simply excellent
A Loony Trombonist - April 29, 2021, at 9:08 a.m.
1 comment  (104 views)
Death Star theme not mismatched
NoahK - August 13, 2018, at 1:15 p.m.
1 comment  (882 views)
Solo and Ready Player One [EDITED]
Vader47000 - July 27, 2018, at 12:23 a.m.
1 comment  (784 views)
Did Clemmenson leak semen when writing that fluff?   Expand >>
Furious Reader - June 15, 2018, at 4:15 p.m.
7 comments  (3058 views)
Newest: December 23, 2019, at 6:14 p.m. by
Fantastic review!!
daprosinik - June 15, 2018, at 2:17 a.m.
1 comment  (806 views)
Outstanding composition [EDITED]
Master Composer - June 14, 2018, at 8:46 p.m.
1 comment  (1258 views)

Track Listings Icon
2018 Regular Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 77:22
• 1. The Adventures of Han* (3:47)
• 2. Meet Han (2:18)
• 3. Corellia Chase (3:32)
• 4. Spaceport (4:05)
• 5. Flying With Chewie (3:28)
• 6. Train Heist (4:46)
• 7. Marauders Arrive (5:13)
• 8. Chicken in the Pot** (2:07)
• 9. Is This Seat Taken? (2:34)
• 10. L3 & Millennium Falcon (3:15)
• 11. Lando's Closet (2:11)
• 12. Mine Mission (4:09)
• 13. Break Out (6:13)
• 14. The Good Guy (5:23)
• 15. Reminiscence Therapy (6:11)
• 16. Into the Maw (4:47)
• 17. Savareen Stand-Off (4:24)
• 18. Good Thing You Were Listening (2:06)
• 19. Testing Allegiance (4:19)
• 20. Dice & Roll (1:54)
* composed and conducted by John Williams
** performed by Baraka May
2020 Deluxe Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 123:25

Notes Icon
The insert of 2018 album includes a note from Powell about the score and lists of performers for both the Powell and Williams recordings. There exists no official packaging for the 2020 "Deluxe Edition." Powell's studio released an unofficial booklet for the album but it was soon removed.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Solo: A Star Wars Story are Copyright © 2018, 2020, Walt Disney Records, Walt Disney Records (Deluxe) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/14/18 and last updated 5/3/21.
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