Monday, March 5, 2012

Lorax Soundtrack Thoughts

Having now seen The Lorax movie, I am exceedingly glad that I didn't give in and listen to the soundtrack ahead of time, because that definitely would have lessened their impact in the movie for me.  Especially since I have been listening to the soundtrack pretty much nonstop since seeing the movie.  Now, while most semi-musical movie soundtracks would mix the songs and score, the score got its own release (as I mentioned before), and so the soundtrack is bolstered, not with songs inspired by the movie, as I thought, but with demos of songs that ultimately weren't used.  Which is pretty cool.  So here are a few of my thoughts on the tracks, which will include some unmarked spoilers.  If you haven't seen the movie yet, you might want to skip this post until you do, though nothing I mention is all that huge.

1. Let It Grow (Celebrate the World)
This is the song that plays over the end credits, and truth be told, I skip it more often than not.  It's not a bad song, but just kind of generic, and it doesn't blend in with the rest of the movie's songs that well.

2. Thneedville
I was not prepared for this song to be as insanely catchy as it was.  When I first saw the track titles, I thought this song would be kind of lame, but it seriously blew me away.  And I freaking love the melismas all over the place.  It does a very good job of setting up the world of Thneedville as a nice place, but not quite right.  As far as I can tell (i.e. remember), there's only one difference between the soundtrack version and the movie version, which is that O'Hare gets a slightly longer part.  I suspect that this was cut not for time, but to alleviate some Fridge Horror, as he sings "Everyone 'round here works for me."  And since he's pretty much put out of business by the end of the movie, that would be a lot of people out of jobs...

3. This Is the Place [Tricky Version]
Now this track right here is a very good reason to be glad I didn't listen to the soundtrack before seeing the movie, since what ended up in the movie is very different (which is probably the credits refer to it as "These Trees").  In the movie, The Once-ler pretty much just la la's, na na's, and doot do's with the animals while he unpacks his cart, pissing off the animals with his haphazard throwing.  This version has the Once-ler recruiting the animals as his back-up singers while he attempts (in song) to find material from their homes (and the animals themselves) for his thneed, before discovering the truffula tufts.  As a song, it's very catchy, but the movie version gets points for being truer to the book (as in, immediately knowing the truffula tufts were what he needed).

4. Everybody Needs a Thneed
I go back and forth on this one.  I mean, as a song it's really just serviceable, but sung by the crowd it's just so full of energy that I can't help but smile when I listen to it.

5. How Bad Can I Be?
Okay, this song is just pure, unadulterated awesome.  While watching it in the movie, I was honest-to-goodness smiling so wide the whole time.  Granted, part of that was because of the visuals (especially the Once-ler in his awesome suit and sunglasses!  Why are there no clips of that online?), but also because the song itself is just so great.  I fervently hope that the official site (or at least the official youtube channel) will put the song up, because I need screenshots!

6. Let It Grow
Again, I was surprised by this song, and how gospel-y it ended up being.  And O'Hare's "Let it die" bit was very funny; I'm glad it made the soundtrack.

7. Let It Grow Gospel Ending
Optional ending for Let It Grow, letting Ted's Mom have a big solo bit.

8. Thneedville 
The original version was a bit harsher and painted the citizens of Thneedville less as content with the status quo and more as mindless consumers, with lyrics like "In Thneedville, you're never alone/'Cause you've always got the stuff that you own" and an interlude of Ted trying to convince his mom to get him a whozit, ending with "All I've ever wanted in my life is the stuff that I don't have."  Musically, though, it's essentially the same as the final version.

9. Once-ler's Traveling Madness
This one is less a song and mostly just Ed Helms ad-libbing.  I assume that this would have been a scene of the Once-ler traveling before he got to Truffula Valley (as the movie dubs it).

10. I Love Nature
An alternate take on The Once-ler's reaction to first seeing the valley.  I like the music parts, but the lyrics are a little too silly, IMO.

11. You Need a Thneed
The full version of The Once-ler's thneed jingle, which in the movie is continually cut off.

12. Nobody Needs a Thneed
The dark reprise of "You Need a Thneed."  In the movie, unlike in the book, The Once-ler doesn't immediately sell his thneed, and is about to throw in the towel, which is probably when this song would have occurred.

13. Biggering
When I first saw the songs in the movie, "How Bad Can I Be?" was the one I wondered the most about.  I figured it would be about the Once-ler justifying himself to the Lorax, but I wasn't sure which direction it would go in.  That is, whether it would be an upbeat number, which it ultimately was, or if it would take a more melancholy route.  If it had, it would have been this track, which shares some elements of the song that ultimately replaced it, but is a little more intimate.  And in the end, a little boring.  Not bad, mind you, but let's just say I'm glad it didn't make the final cut.

It was definitely interesting to hear different takes on the songs in the movie.  Makes me wish more movie soundtracks did that. And no doubt we'll see some of the demos show up as deleted scenes on the DVD/Blu-ray.

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