Music: Soundtracks

March 14, 2011

Justin Bieber's Never Say Never Breaks Records

Justin Bieber, Never Say Never (The Remixes) Justin Bieber's 3D documentary Never Say Never is now officially the top-grossing concert film and third-top-grossing documentary of all time. With over $70 million in ticket sales — and more in its first weekend than either Michael Jackson's This Is It or the Jonas Brothers' 3D Concert Experience — Bieber's Never Say Never (remix album pictured) has surpassed Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds in Concert to claim the top spot for music/concert film receipts, and without adjusting for inflation, he even beats Prince's Purple Rain. With fans lining up to see this film worldwide, it's clear that, far from abating, Bieber Fever continues to spread. Just ask these teens in Liverpool.

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Jonny Greenwood, Norwegian Wood Soundtrack

Jonny Greenwood, Norwegian Wood Soundtrack Last December, novelist Haruki Murakami's dramatic work about a couple's grieving for a lost friend and their sentimental connection to a folksy Beatles ballad was brought to the big screen as Norwegian Wood, directed by Anh Hung Tran. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood scored the picture, and the music, released last week, is pure Greenwood in its emotional content, yet it represents a distinct departure from his previous score work. Greenwood's adventurous electronic score for Bodysong (2003) and his mesmerizing breakthrough work for There Will Be Blood (2007) each make use of classical elements here and there, but on Norwegian Wood he goes much further: The score album's first track, "Mou Sukoshi Jibun no Koto, Kichinto Shitaino," sounds like the opening of an epic symphony (hint hint, Jonny), and other pieces throughout take advantage of more conventional orchestral arrangements than he has employed in the past (though tracks like "Naoko ga Shinda" sound anything but conventional). He also puts his love for the guitar on display with simple, somber, retro-gleaming tracks like "Toki no Senrei wo Uketeinai mono wo Yomuna" and "Iiko Dakara Damatette" (both of which sound like they could have been recorded in the mid- to late-'60s). Taken as a whole, this soundtrack is a thoroughly heavy and intense listen, lightened only slightly by a few eerie gems from premiere krautrock band Can. But there's beauty in the heaviness, and there are currently few musicians working today who can pull this off the way Greenwood does.

If you like Greenwood's score to Norwegian Wood, check out these other beautiful-yet-bleak works: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, The Road (2009); Michael Nyman, Drowning by Numbers (1991); Alexander Balanescu, Il Partigiano Johnny (2000). 

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March 08, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Exclusive Pearl Jam, Glee Cast, Lupe Fiasco, Sara Evans, R.E.M, Avril Lavigne

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays, and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you some of the best from different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster’s New Releases/Featured Music section.

Pearl Jam, Vs./Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition) Pearl Jam, Vs./Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition) (Alternative, Rock): Napster has four exclusive bonus tracks available for streaming as a preview of the upcoming combined reissue of Vs. and Vitalogy on March 29. The exclusive tracks include previously unreleased live versions of "Even Flow," "Once," and "Daughter."


Glee Cast, Glee, The Music, Volume 5 Glee Cast, Glee: The Music, Volume 5 (Pop, Soundtracks): The latest volume from the series about everyone's favorite glee club includes the "Thriller/Heads Will Roll" mash-up, The Human League's "Don't You Want Me," "Kiss" and "Landslide" featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, and two original songs, a first for the series.


Lupe Fiasco, LASERS Lupe Fiasco, LASERS (Hip-Hop/Rap): Originally titled LupE.N.D., since it was to be the Chicago rapper's last album, this set was tied up in label limbo until fans demanded its release. LASERS expands to Love Always Shines Everytime, Remember 2 Smile, and features "Words I Never Said" and "The Show Must Go On."


Sara Evans, Stronger Sara Evans, Stronger (Country): After a six-year hiatus, the country superstar releases a new album of material. With personal issues behind her, she's now ready for a major comeback, starting with the album's lead single "A Little Bit Stronger," which was also featured in the movie Country Strong.


R.E.M, Collapse Into Now R.E.M, Collapse into Now (Rock): Not many groups can boast 15 studio albums under their belts, but R.E.M. isn't just any group. For their latest, they go for a more expansive sound, enlisting guests including Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder, and Peaches. Their first single is "Mine Smell Like Honey."


Avril Lavigne, Goodbye Lullaby Avril Lavigne, Goodbye Lullaby (Pop, Rock): After several setbacks and delays, the Canadian pop star's latest album finally sees the light of day after two-and-a-half years in the making. Lavigne's writing can be found on all of the album's tracks, including the current single "What the Hell."
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March 01, 2011

Dario Marianelli, Jane Eyre Soundtrack Coming March 8

Jane Eyre It's safe to say Italian composer Dario Marianelli has crafted some fine movie scores in his time: Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and The Soloist, to name a few, those first two having won him Academy Awards. So it's only natural we're excited about his new score, Jane Eyre, due next week (3/8). The period piece, based on Charlotte Brontë's classic novel and due in theaters March 11, is a perfect canvas for Marianelli. After all, romantic, sweeping music has been his forte throughout his career. The ambitious score features rising violinist Jack Liebeck, who was honored with a Classical Brit Award last year. With his moving and adventurous work on Jane Eyre, you could say that Marianelli "scores" again.

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New Music Tuesday: Marsha Ambrosius, Foo Fighters, WOW #1s, Take Me Home Tonight Soundtrack

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays, and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you some of the best from different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster’s New Releases/Featured Music section.

Marsha Ambrosius, Late Nights & Early Mornings Marsha Ambrosius, Late Nights & Early Mornings (R&B): The former Floetry member releases her debut solo album after countless guest appearances on songs by everyone from Michael Jackson to David Banner. The new album features “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)” and current single “Far Away.”


Foo Fighters, Rope Foo Fighters, "Rope" (Rock): The new single from Dave Grohl and company is their first new music since two previously unreleased tracks appeared on their Greatest Hits set two years ago.  The Butch Vig-produced track is the first from the upcoming Foo album Wasting Light, scheduled for release on April 12.


Various Artists, WOW #1s Various Artists, WOW #1s (Christian/Gospel): This latest edition of the popular series compiles the latest and greatest in contemporary Christian music. Featured in this collection are hits including “God with Us” by MercyMe, “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns, and “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.


Take Me Home Tonight soundtrack Various Artists, Take Me Home Tonight (Soundtracks, Pop): While the tagline for this upcoming retro-comedy is “Best. Night. Ever.”, lovers of ’80s music might very well call the music “Best. Soundtrack. Ever.” Features staples of the decade by artists like The Buggles, Duran Duran, Yaz, Kim Carnes, and Men Without Hats.


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February 27, 2011

Trent Reznor and Randy Newman Win Best Score and Song Oscars

The Social Network Toy Story 3 This evening at the 83rd Academy Awards, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won the Oscar for Best Score, while Randy Newman took home the award for Best Song. What an interesting career Trent Reznor has had: From edgy industrial rock icon with Nine Inch Nails through his Oscar tonight (as well as his previous Golden Globe) for his work on The Social Network, he's shown himself to be a musician of pretty astonishing depth. We've been a fan of the score since its release, so we're really psyched for Reznor and Ross—as well as whatever further score work this experience may lead to. Meanwhile, on the Best Song side of the music Oscars, loveable veteran Randy Newman, whose work on Toy Story 3 we also instantly adored and whom we also recently admired for an astounding 20 lifetime nominations, took home his second Oscar tonight for "We Belong Together." Pretty decent choices from the Academy, in our book. What do you think?

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February 16, 2011

Ryan Bingham, Elton John, Madonna, Donna Summer: “Award-Winning Movie Songs” (Napster Playlist)

Award-Winning Movie Songs Only a week and a half until the 83rd Annual Academy Awards take place in Hollywood on Feb. 27, and this year's nominees for best song and score have us pretty excited to see how it all turns out—there are certainly some interesting choices to be made. In the past, we've covered some of the more storied song and score victories with countdown posts. But if you just want to dive right in and listen, we also have our "Award-Winning Movie Songs" playlist, which features many Oscar-winning songs from over the years, including last year's winner for Ryan Bingham, "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)," written with T-Bone Burnett, who also provided his magic touch on production. So here's your chance to brush up before the big show. Happy listening.

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February 08, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Justin Bieber, Thompson Square, Gnomeo & Juliet, Yanni

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays (it's a U.S. record business tradition), and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you some of the best from across different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster's New Releases section.

Justin Bieber, My Worlds Acoustic Justin Bieber, My Worlds Acoustic (pop): Bieber fever continues with the wide release of My Worlds Acoustic. Now available from your favorite music source, this album features mostly acoustic makeovers of songs from his previous albums, plus new track "Pray." The best thing since Bieber's Super Bowl ad.


Thompson Square Thompson Square, Thompson Square (country): Husband-and-wife team Keifer and Shawna Thompson release their self-titled debut, produced with the help of Jason Aldean's band. The album features last summer's country hit "Let's Fight" as well as new Top 20 single "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?"


Gnomeo & Juliet Soundtrack Various Artists, Gnomeo & Juliet (soundtracks): The soundtrack to the animated children's film based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet includes two new songs by Sir Elton John as well as some of his beloved classics. Also features selections from the score by James Newton Howard.


Yanni, Truth of Touch Yanni, Truth of Touch (New Age): The latest album by the New Age icon has been touted as "the return of Yanni as you know him." Features 15 new tracks of contemporary instrumentals as well as a few vocal forays, such as the lovely "Can't Wait" and the hauntingly beautiful "Secret."


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January 31, 2011

John Barry, 1933–2011

John Barry The film-scoring community lost one of its truly magnificient composers yesterday, John Barry. The venerable musician died Sunday from a sudden heart attack at 77. Barry composed some of the most identifiable and beloved melodies of all time, including the James Bond theme and many of the franchise's subsequent film scores, the immediately recognizable song "Born Free," and the heart-wrenching score to Out of Africa. The latter two earned him two of his five Academy Awards—he also won Oscars for the score to Born Free ('67), The Lion in Winter score ('69), and score for Dances with Wolves ('91). His exquisite body of work also includes Zulu, The Chase, Midnight Cowboy (for which he won a Grammy), Somewhere in Time, and The Scarlet Letter, among many others. If you've got some time, revisit or discover his catalog—it's one of the most worthwhile you'll ever hear.

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January 25, 2011

Randy Newman's 20 Oscar Nominations

Randy Newman With his just-announced Oscar nomination for best Original Song for "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3Randy Newman now has an astounding 20 lifetime Academy Award nominations. It's not a record for music (John Williams has been nominated 45 times, for example), but it's a very exclusive club to be in. Newman, a chronically busy composer whose parallell career as a singer-songwriter at some point took a back seat to his scoring work, has been nominated for Original Song and Original Score (called Original Musical or Comdey Score or Original Dramatic Score in '95 and '98) 12 and 8 times, respectively, since 1981—that's a span of 30 years, for those keeping score. But here's the real head-scratcher: Out of 19 nominations so far, he's only won once, for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. (2001). Personally, we find it impossible that "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 didn't win, but that's life. Maybe nomination number 20 will bump his his win ratio up to 1 in 10.

Here's the complete list Newman's Oscar nods to date: (Original Song) "One More Hour," Ragtime (1981); "I Love to See You Smile," Parenthood (1989); "Make Up Your Mind," The Paper (1994); "You've Got a Friend in Me," Toy Story (1995); "That'll Do," Babe: Pig in the City (1998); "When She Loved Me," Toy Story 2 (1999); "A Fool in Love," Meet the Parents (2000); "If I Didn't Have You," Monsters, Inc. (2001); "Our Town," Cars (2006); "Almost There," The Princess and the Frog (2009); "Down in New Orleans," The Princess and the Frog (2009); "We Belong Together," Toy Story 3 (2010); (Original Score) Ragtime (1981); The Natural (1984); Avalon (1990); Toy Story (1995); James and the Giant Peach (1996); Pleasantville (1998); A Bug's Life (1998); Monsters, Inc. (2001). Wow.

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