Carl is on hand with his recommendations of the best soundtracks to listen to whilst in lockdown
To help beat the coronavirus blues, for the foreseeable future, members of team Future of the Force will be on hand with our recommendations of awesome soundtracks to listen to during the COVID-19 lockdown. Whether its lesser-known gems, Oscar-winning classics or just celebrating the best composers – we’ll be here to give you our top picks during this difficult time.
Aliens by James Horner
By now, almost everyone on Earth has seen the original ‘Alien‘ and its all-action sequel ‘Aliens‘. The difference between the two films tonally is there for all to see. The scores for both films are in the same vein, the differences tonally are there for us all to hear. Where Jerry Goldsmith‘s score for ‘Alien‘ was at times quiet and understated, James Horner‘s epic score for ‘Aliens‘ is all-encompassing. The opening is quiet, to begin with, a slightly worrying and unnerving edge to it while a military drum beats in the background. The music builds in intensity until it is unleashed, a blast that hints at what’s to come. However, as soon as the blast recedes, we are brought back down again by a quiet and haunting motif as the music accompanies Ripley’s drifting escape vehicle as it continues on its journey through space. Again, we are given the briefest of glimpses of what is to come later on.
The score continues to go along in this vein as we come to the second track, Ripley’s bad dream. Again, it begins quietly before building up to a crescendo which once more foreshadows events to come. The reveal of the Sulaco, the ship housing the Colonial Marines and the unwilling Ripley is an enjoyable piece, a slightly rousing but slow-moving piece of music which is our introduction to the humans we will follow and rest our hopes and fears on. As we come up to the track ‘Combat Drop‘, we are now in no doubt that the film is moving up a gear, that we are about to go from an interesting and mysterious time to an all-out assault, a war between humans and their deadly, bloodthirsty and violent foes. The track builds up to a roaring crescendo, an ending that indicates we are going to war. Listening to the track, you can hear some similarities to Horner’s scores for ‘Star Trek II and Star Trek III‘. Not quite the same but with certain notes that throw us back once more to Horner’s other science fiction scores. Hints of Goldsmith also haunt the background, giving the listener subtle hints and reminders of what we know has happened previously and what is to come but keeping a lot under wraps.
By the time we reach ‘Ripley’s Rescue‘, the score is in full combat mode, a rip-roaring action movie score, one that not only builds with excitement but also throws in horror every now and again. And Horner has created a perfect blend tonally. One minute blood pumping exciting, the next scaring us before calming down, lulling the listener into a false sense of security before unleashing once more. As we come across ‘Futile Escape‘, we know that at any minute we are going to be going all hell for leather. And so it goes as the track, like Lalo Schiffrin’s piece of music for the car chase sequence in ‘Bullitt‘, starts off quietly and gradually builds up and up until it is unleashed full bore, without mercy. Now, once more we are in the blood pumping action territory. The piece of music continues on its course until we reach a screeching climax, one in the film where we say goodbye to two of the characters in a blaze of glory.
We follow once again through the haunting melodies of ‘Newt Is Taken‘ before we are thrown into the determined action and revenge piece that is ‘Going After Newt‘. We are now nearing the climax of them all, the first battle between adopted human mother and Alien Queen, the source of the entire problem. We are closing on ‘Bishop’s Countdown‘ which is completely astonishing in its motifs, the way that it makes the listener hear every chord in anticipation as builds up to a shattering climax before calming down once more and ending almost peacefully. Of course by the next track, ‘Queen To Bishop‘, the fight and the frights are back on once more as Horner demonstrates once again a masterful piece of suspense music that explodes suddenly again before calming down before finally we come to ‘Resolution And Hyperspace‘, the final track in the film. The opening part of the piece actually doesn’t appear in the film, its use omitted until it was used in the climax of ‘Die Hard‘. But this is it, the finality of the films events and a quiet, almost peaceful closing of the chapter before the reprise of the opening credits theme.
The version I have been describing is the expanded edition that is available to stream and download from most online music stores. It is a completely worthy addition to any music collectors library and, as a completionist, to me is an essential score to own. Sadly, James Horner is no longer with us but his music lives on in the scores he has left behind. I own many of them but it is hard-pressed to find or hear one that matches the sheer enjoyment or quality of his ‘Aliens‘ score. Sit back and allow yourself to be thrilled, scared but ultimately entertained by the brilliance of James Horner.
Stay safe and look after each other.
Let us know if you have any suggestions of great soundtracks our readers should check out and we’ll feature and share them with the FOTF community.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!