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Soundtrack review: Queen of the South (Giorgio Moroder & Raney Shockne)

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Soundtrack review: Queen of the South (Giorgio Moroder & Raney Shockne)

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Inspired by the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur” by internationally acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Queen of the South follows the journey of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) and the sacrifices she must make not only to survive, but to make it to the top of the drug world. Where will she draw the line when her moral code and her destiny are at odds? Queen of the South is executive produced by David T. Friendly (Little Miss Sunshine, Courage Under Fire) and Natalie Chaidez (“12 Monkeys”). Fox 21 Television Studios developed and produced the pilot, and runs lead on the co-production with Universal Cable Productions. The music is written by Raney Shockne and Giorgio Moroder.

A Giorgio Moroder score to review…for me, this is a dream, since Moroder is one of my favourite musicians and composers ever, probably the man who defined, musically, my favourite decade, the 80s. Most film music fans have their so called holy grails, scores or editions of scores which they would love to get released, for which they are waiting for for years and years; at the very top of my personal list is Moroder’s “Scarface” which is one of my favourite film music compositions ever. I am still waiting for a proper, complete release of that. And now I find in my inbox the next best thing, a score for a sort of similar story, only with a female lead, to which Moroder contributes some 35 years later.

Naturally my nostalgic self expects the Scarface Moroder sound, that legendary, perfect sound while my more reasonable side knows that the sound has evolved and that we are 35 years later. The opening cue “The queen of the south” winks to my nostalgic self with the retro sound mixed with some choral work. It already has that fusion feel to it where Moroder brings his 80s synth and mixes them with Raney’s more modern sounds. It’s a fascinating game of hide and seek, of parallels between past and present; “Escapar” makes me see flashes of Debbie Harry and Donna Summer and nostalgia just floods me. Giorgio has not lost his magical touch and this score is already a dream, an unexpected gift for me. As I listen to “Cemetery stroll” the term “electro noir” never made more sense to define this genre. Could Raney Shockne be the Moroder heir I’ve been waiting for?

In this hallucinatory nostalgic haze I also enjoy the two sort of covers for “Everybody wants to rule the world” and “One way or another”, the hypnotic electronic versions sung in Spanish by Luz Elena Mendoza and Chloe Chaidez respectively. Moroder was always all about the vocal hits as well.

This score is truly a journey through the most beautiful corners of retro synth. You got disco, then you get reflective gems like “Saga de sangre”, a cue that takes me back to my childhood and makes me dream. It is fascinating how well the collaboration between these two composers work, as each time the Moroder sound goes deep there’s a modern touch of sound to show evolution, to show how well electronic music can work in 2018 as well. There are also the Latin inserts to match the story in cues like “Sinaloa”. Sometimes the music gets aggressive and experimental, like in “The book of falling kings” or “Moyocoyotzin” which represent a hybrid of electronic and industrial music, cold and uncomfortable. The latter though is where “The queen of the South” finally connects with “Scarface” as the vocal part is close to the one on the “End credits” from “Scarface”. This is my loophole to consider this a sequel to that score.

With a melodic, dreamy, nostalgic first half and a brutal, more experimental modern and uncomfortable second half, “The queen of the South” is a journey throughout the evolution of electronic music, expanding the Moroder sound, bringing it to the present; this score is a parallel between the 80s and the 10s, it’s a feast for electronic music fans of all kinds. If you are into the retro sound, listen to the first half and if you are into the more brutal, fusion electronics, feast on the second half but either way, do not miss this one.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Highlights:
The Queen of the South
Escapar
Cemetery Stroll
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (feat. Luz Elena Mendoza)
The Lifestyle
Saga De Sangre
The Gospel of Teresa
One Way Or Another (feat. Chloe Chaidez)
Confession
Levanton
A Queen Is Born Not Made
Tarnished Crown
The Color of Snow

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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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