Film scores

Soundtrack review : Inside out Michael Giacchino -2015)

Inside-Out-emotions-in-headquarters

Pixar… animation… Michael Giacchino. A well-known and successful combination so far, so people have been really hyped for “Inside out”. For me, this was the least anticipated of the three big Giacchino scores from June because I am not usually a fan of animation scores. But this is one of my favorite composers so expectations are high. I just need to get in the childish mood this score will require…
“Bundle of joy” helps me do that. It’s a simple keyboard theme, as joyful as its title, and even a bit atmospheric in its second part. It puts me in a dreamy state and makes me curious how much of a fantasy this composition will be. Once thing’s for sure: the opening of this score made me think of my baby girl. The score then takes off and slowly builds up its world of sounds. The dreamy main theme gets repeated in a more alert version… then come some jazzy insights but thankfully the one part of jazz I really enjoy: percussion. There’s a section in “Team building” that made me think of the frenzy of Whiplash.
Now imagine a Shrek like creature frowning before listening to this album, anticipating sitting through a silly one hour long animation score. Now see as his face gets lighter and lighter and a smile takes it over. That’s me as “Inside out” progresses. I don’t know if it’s my recent fatherhood or just my tastes changing but this is one charming album. It can lighten up even the grayest moments; it can send sparks in the darkest corners and make fireworks out of ashes. It’s the perfect score to “Overcome sadness”. I see all sorts of flashes before my eyes as I listen to it… I see a magical snow on the most beautiful of winter days, I see joy and laughter and I feel like getting up from my chair and just running back into my childhood.
I mean… just listen to “First day of school”. That’s the feeling right there, that’s the spirit, and Michael Giacchino, fresh from fighting dinosaurs, morphs into the guy you’d want to play music for your kids. I thought “Tomorrowland” was nice but this is just something else, this captures best the innocence of childhood and the simple joys of that period. My daughter is 5 months old and even if I show her more complex toys she still wants to play with a plastic bottle.     This gesture of hers and the way she smiles with her entire faces, eyes included, is what makes me understand and appreciate this score better. I am sure that half a year ago I might have dismissed it.
As “Inside out” switches tones and moods I remember what the story is about. Since it was an animation score I thought it didn’t even matter but the composer brings it to my attention with his musical mood swings. “Inside out” is a story about five emotions battling it out in the mind of a little girl, and I am listening to in at the right time in my life.
The varied moments just keep getting better. “Goofball no longer” makes me think of old Italian movies with its harmonica and carefree sound. “Memory lanes” gets me melancholic while the cool and smooth “The forgetters” makes me wonder why I didn’t like jazz scores until now.  As the moments fly around me like pixies I realize that what sets “Inside out” apart from other animations scores is that it could only work inside a kid’s mind. You couldn’t put this score on an action movie, or spy movie, o suspense movie. This is just how a kid would perceive music and feel it. This is the genius of Michael Giacchino rearing its golden head once again. I am starting to be more and more convinced that he has super powers and that he actually went inside a little girl’s mind, collected all the pink chaos he found there, the joys, the sadness, the questions and somehow transposed it in notes. I will go home and play this one for my little girl. For a few years.
Not only that! I found the emotion and the unique melancholy I first discovered about him in his unforgettable score for “Lost”; I found them in “Joy turns to sadness / A growing personality” which just might be one of the best cues of this year.
Just listen to this score with an open heart and then go play with your kids. “Bundle of joy” is the perfect way to describe this score. Thank you, Michael Giacchino. You might just win 2015.

Cue rating: 95 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 48 / 59

Album excellence: 81%

Highlights:

 

Bundle of Joy
Nomanisone Island / National Movers
Free Skating
First Day of School
Riled Up
Goofball No Longer
Memory Lanes
The Forgetters
Chasing the Pink Elephant
Abstract Thought
Imagination Land
Down in the Dumps
We Can Still Stop Her
Tears of Joy
Rainbow Flyer
Chasing Down Sadness
Joy Turns to Sadness / A Growing Personality
The Joy of Credits

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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