Film Score Friday: ‘Super’ by Various Artists

Super is an odd film, it is hard to take it out of context from the other recent films that it resembles. Both Kick-Ass and Defendor came out last year, and they all tackled very similar subject matter. From a film perspective Super is late to the party, and doesn’t really do anything that the other films didn’t do already. However, there is one area where the film stands out as very much the superior, it’s soundtrack!

Like the previous two films mentioned the soundtrack is populated with quirky tracks that epitomize the title character and their awkward journey through super-heroism. Super excels here with music that perfectly captures the tone of the movie and flows from one track to another with relative ease, which is a tall task when you are combining such different types of music. The selected source music tracks are generally fun to listen to and the score elements are universally excellent with Tyler Bates bringing some truly epic tracks that frankly are way better than the film deserves.

My first listen to the album was before I saw film which usually makes it harder to get wrapped up in the soundtrack because you have no visual base from which to tie to the movie. In that raw, first impression I was already taken with how the music promised a lighter tone with some several dark undertones. The track titles referenced god and religion several times and when the soundtrack needed to be epic, it delivered in spades. I would easily say that on a sound track level it was everything an independent superhero film needed it’s soundtrack to be.

Then I saw the movie and was disappointed. The music promised me something that the film failed to deliver. This isn’t uncommon, and some of my favorite scores come from lesser movies. Although the more I think about it, the more I might have been set up for failure because I enjoyed the soundtrack so much. Particularly Tyler Bates’ score portion, which was some of his best work I have heard in awhile.

In fact, I would go so far as to say Tyler Bates is the MVP of the whole dang movie. It is a shame he hasn’t had a chance to break out properly. Every time he has a chance to work on a big project his score is always secondary to a soundtrack full of source material. The major exception to that rule was 300, and he hit it out of the park with a pitch perfect score. If his work on Super is any indication he has an epic score waiting to burst out of him. Fingers crossed for Conan later this year.

My major complaint with the album is that while the source music flows well, and is generally quite good. It lacks a bit of variety. Every time the soundtrack needs to go to a different tone it relies to heavily on the score pieces, marginalizing the source material, which is a mistake in my mind because the use so much of it in the soundtrack. If they put in more score pieces, maybe this would work, but the ratio as it is seems off to me.

Favorite Three Tracks:

Calling All Destroyers – Tsar: The opening track of the album which also serves as the opening sequence music in the film. I liked the song just fine upon my first listen, but it wasn’t until I saw it in context with the excellent animated opening sequence did I realize I love this song. It is bouncy, fun, edgy and full of life, which are perfect traits to have in an opening track, both in a soundtrack and the movie itself. Tsar is not a band I have heard before this track, and I am pleased to know of them now. This track offers tons of promise, and most of the soundtrack delivered in it’s wake.

Finger of God – Tyler Bates: This was the first track that grabbed me by the collar, slapped me in the face and said, “Nancy! This is damn fine music! Appreciate it!” This track is everything you expect from the biggest of blockbusters or most epic of moments in any super hero film. Even though it has heavy synth elements, which is uncommon in large budget scores, it builds on itself in such a satisfying way. Bates’ use of vocals behind the music helps drive it home all the more. This is music I now listen to for inspiration, job well done.

Two Perfect Moments – Tyler Bates: This is the perfect happy medium track. It is technically a song, complete with vocals and all the other song-y elements that separate it from the score, but it is written by Bates himself. It is the perfect song for this film, it captures the general tone from the film perfectly, and it blends the source material with the score tracks, which helps the whole album feel a part of a single whole as opposed to just a random collection of score and songs.

Least Favorite Track:

Nobody Knows You Anymore – Terra Naomi: I don’t know why I didn’t like this song as much as I do. It is harmless enough, it is a bit too sappy and sounds like it is from a different movie entirely, but I wouldn’t outright call it bad. I do know that I skip this track every time it comes up on the playlist, and I honestly don’t think it fits in with the soundtrack. I don’t even remember what part of the movie this is from, which speaks to how little of an impact it had in the actual film itself. This song is simply blah.

At the end of the day, the Soundtrack might be the very best thing to come out of Super. It has a balance issue with to much source music that hits the same notes, but it is way more good than bad. Tyler Bates agains shows off his considerable chops with the score portions, and walks away as the one to be most proud of the work in this album.

Total Score for Super: The Original Soundtrack –

4 out of 5

    %d bloggers like this: