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Howard Shore – “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Special Edition)

Album Reviews | By on December 16, 2012


Record Label: WaterTower Music
Genre: Film Score
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I’ve been looking forward to the Hobbit ever since Return of the King was over. I’ve always wondered what Howard Shore would do with the music of The Hobbit, and now I have 3 chances to find out. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey meets my expectations and then some!

I wanted to review this score after seeing the movie. I’ve been listening to the music for a solid 2 weeks now but it was nice to fit the two pieces together. The movie is an excellent start to the series and everything I could have hoped it would be. I had a smile on my face the entire film! Being able to see The Shire, Rivendell, Gandalf, Gollum again was just a delight! An Unexpected Journey also has plenty of laughs, action and other cool stuff in it. Now bring on the other two movies! The Hobbit could have been just been 2 movies but since we’re getting an extra movie, I’m all for it I get to spend more time in Middle Earth. Let’s talk about the score now shall we?

The score is filled with familiar Lord of the Rings themes but composer Howard Shore has created a bunch more that we will be humming in no time. The one piece we first heard in the trailer is thankfully very present throughout and that’s the “Misty Mountain” motif. I’m extremely happy that’s one of the main themes in this movies. It starts off with the dark song sung by the Dwarves, lead by Thorin (Richard Armitage) and then that piece gets played throughout the soundtrack & movie.

We’re first introduced to The Hobbit with “My Dear Frodo” which sets up the score & movie very nicely. “Old Friends” is basically “Concerning Hobbits” from The Fellowship of the Ring but played differently and I was extremely happy to hear that again. Very whimsical and pleasant, just like the hobbits and The Shire. “An Unexpected Party” is fun too because that’s when the dwarves and Gandalf show up at Bilbo’s house.

In the extended edition soundtrack, which I highly recommend you get, has one of the first singing songs at this point called “Blunt The Knives.” It’s a quick fun song of the dwarves singing & teasing Bilbo. “Misty Mountains” sets up the themes for the movie and it’s such a haunting song. It works so well in the movie too. I’m usually not a fan of too much singing in movies but with Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, it works. This is the only spot where there’s singing though. Just please don’t turn this one into a musical too.

“The World Is Ahead” gives us a glimpse at the main Hobbit motif and “Radagast The Brown” is a track that’s just as interesting and quirky as the brown wizard. The Extended Edition has many tracks that are extended tracks, and the “Radagast The Brown” is one of them. I prefer the extended edition because there’s just more tracks and more music. Any time I can listen to Shore’s brilliant take on Middle Earth, I’m a happy guy.

To continue on, there are many action tracks on here like “Warg Scouts,” “Thunder Battle” and “Out of the Frying Pan.” “Over Hill” is one of my favorites because it’s the exact track we heard during one of the first trailers of the movie. It’s the complete motif in a way. “Riddles in the Dark” was another favorite scene of mine in the movie, and the track has a lot of themes you will recognize from the LOTR trilogy. During the end of the movie, when I heard a familiar theme with a certain flying bird, for whatever reason, I was suddenly fighting back tears. There’s no reason for it whatsoever except the music might have struck on my tear strings. I can’t explain it. That’s the power of Howard Shore’s scores on me.

A real treat towards the end of the soundtrack is Crowded House’s Neil Finn singing “Song of the Lonely Mountain.” With Lord of the Rings, each movie ended with a female singer so wonder if this time will be a man singer? In any case, I’ve loved 4 of the songs so far. This one will be a sure thing for an Oscar nominee I think. It certainly deserves the recognition for both making the Misty Mountain into a folk-pop song. It’s got a bit of a Celtic flair to it as well, and I love the nice touch of the anvil noises in the background.

After that, there’s a few extra score tracks that are just as good as the other tracks we heard before them. This film score by Howard Shore couldn’t have been any better for me and was exactly what I was hoping for. Bravo Mr. Shore…and Mr Jackson as well!

Bottom Line: A perfect score!
Notable Tracks: Old Friends, Misty Mountains, The Adventure Begins, Over Hill, Out of the Frying Pan, Song of the Lonely Mountain, A Very Respectable Hobbit, Erebor
Overall Rating:

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