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Soundtrack review: Scandal (Chad Fischer – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Scandal (Chad Fischer – 2018)

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“Scandal” is an American political thriller television series starring Kerry Washington. Created by Shonda Rhimes, it debuted on ABC on April 5, 2012.[1] Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, is partially based on former George H.W. Bush administration press aide Judy Smith, who serves as a co-executive producer. The show takes place in Washington, D.C. and focuses on Olivia Pope’s crisis management firm, Olivia Pope & Associates, and its staff, as well as staff at the White House and surrounding political scene. In addition to Kerry Washington, the show also features Tony Goldwyn as Fitzgerald Grant III, the president of the first six seasons and Olivia’s main love interest. I watched the first few seasons and it was an enjoyable soap opera. Chad Fischer wrote the music.

I don’t remember much of the music from the show, or what I remember are generic alert moments and I hope this separate score will give me more. The score opens with “B6-13”, an acronym well known to fans of the show and the music is just as I remembered it except more exciting; even if it’s generic action music it’s snappy and well done and I get excited as I remember the twists and turns of the show. The addictive soap opera / junk food quality of the TV show seems to blend into the music as I realise that even if the music is, well, generic, I still love it and it gets me riled up when it gets frantic. Somehow the composer manages to make this simple music, with military guitar inserts when it needs to be heroic and fast paced pulses at other times, just be very enjoyable as a standalone listening experience as well. I am always against generic dark thriller music because it just mumbles in the background but in this care, positive, optimistic, almost joyful, “Scandal” works even without memorable themes or motifs.

It also helps when Chad Fischer writes an ambient, reflective cue like “Chad breaks down”, the kind of cue that marks my favourite musical genre; every time I find a cue like this in any score I am happy like a child who unearthed a treasure. It’s not a singular moments as the emotional and love themes from “Scandal” all bask in that wonderful sound. I am quite surprised at how much I am enjoying every bit of this score and how I smile at some cues and nod my head at others.

“Scandal” is a lean and strong electronic score that mixes emotion with action without abusing any and the standalone listening experience goes by like a breeze. It’s not often that by taking away the images the music turns from generic to exciting but this is what happened here for me.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 23 /53

Album excellence: 43%

Highlights:
B6-13
Run Baby Run
Cyrus Breaks Down
Olitz Love Theme
Right to Bear Arms
Not Choosing Me Is Okay
Property of Leo Bergen
Olitz Love Theme Reprise

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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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