James Newton Howard “King Kong”

Album Reviews | Dec 12th, 2005

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Record Label: Decca
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Buy on Amazon.com link

Originally, LOTR composer Howard Shore was composing this movie, and I was looking forward to hearing what he came up with. Apparently, the composer and Peter Jackson didn’t agree on how the music should be, so they parted ways to save the friendship. Which is understandable, sometimes friends don’t agree on things. I can’t help but wonder what happened and how different the score was to this. PJ brought on James Newton Howard, who he has admired for awhile now and I’m glad he did so. James Newton Howard probably has composed one of his best scores to date. There are a lot of adjectives to describe this score so I’ll just throw out a few: beautiful, exciting, thrilling and excellent!

The opening title track “King Kong” sets the stage and gives you Goosebumps right off the bat. Just from hearing that track, you know this score is gonna be GREAT! The Kong score has a variety of instruments that play a big part in the score. Mostly strings, brass section, and sometimes the flute and piano. The sweeping love melodies are for either Ann & Jack, or Ann & Kong. I guess it would help to see the movie first to really know. The track “Beautiful” best demonstrates the piano & flute motifs. The song is exactly what the titled is, “Beautiful.” This score is sweeping and I love the sad, string-filled songs but the action cues are just as exciting. Many songs sound like something John Williams or even Max Steiner would compose and I think that’s the direction Howard was going in. I believe they even use some of the music from the original King Kong movie composed by Steiner in the movie. “Tooth and Claw” is filled with loud instruments and you can tell something BIG is going on. I didn’t even see the movie yet and I can tell that scene will be intense. I’m assuming it’s the Kong vs. Dino scenes… The last 5 tracks are part of the ending of the movie, filled with dread, intensity and then there is sadness. Young soloist Ben I’man returns to work with Peter Jackson, like he did for the Lord of the Rings soundtrack (I think?) and adds a lot of sadness to the songs. The kid’s got a great singing voice, hopefully that won’t be messed up once he hits puberty ha. But anyway, this album is terrific and worth buying if you enjoyed the score in the movie or you’re a fan of Howard’s work.

Bottom Line: One of the best scores of the year and one of the best scores of Howard’s career. Whoa that rhymed.
Notable Tracks: Defeat in Always Momentary, Beautiful, Captured, Beauty Killed the Beat I-V
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