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Soundtrack review: Once upon a time (season 7) (Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor and Michael D. Simon – 2018)

Best of 2018 perfect scores TV

Soundtrack review: Once upon a time (season 7) (Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor and Michael D. Simon – 2018)

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“Once Upon a Time” is an American fantasy drama television series on ABC which debuted on October 23, 2011, and concluded on May 18, 2018. The first six seasons are largely set in the fictitious seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, with the character of Emma Swan serving as the lead, while the seventh and final season takes place in a Seattle, Washington neighborhood called Hyperion Heights, with a new main narrative led by Swan’s son, Henry Mills. The show borrows elements and characters from the Disney franchise and popular Western literature, folklore, and fairy tales. This a review of the music for the 7th season, written by Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor and Michael D. Simon.

Honestly I am having a hard trouble seeing the point of this release, considering the previous treatments for the show: there have only been score releases for seasons 1 and 2 and this one is only 24 minute long, a bit light if the idea was to give fans of the show a chance to hear their favourite cues. Also the first two scores were all Mark Isham, now there are nine cues written by three composers. Despite all that, a show with this premise just asks for epic fantasy music and I am happy with the way things get going with “The fate of all heroes”. There is a dark riding motif that chomps away with a “World of Warcraft” like thunder. Yep, it’s easy to forget administrative complaints when the music sounds like this but it also proves my point because I would definitely want to hear more than 24 minutes. “Closes thing to a friend” just flies away with a vibrant and emotional fairy tale sound and I am scrambling to check if I reviewed the first to albums. Imagine the energy of trailer music with the added bonus of enchanting melodies.

Honestly my favourite fairy tale fantasy scores have been James Newton Howard’s efforts for “Snow white” and “Maleficent” and this one comes pretty close. I’ve been saying it for a while and I will keep saying: Mark Isham is in the shape of his life, composing wise this past couple of years and every new score he puts out is one more reason to be happy as a film music fan. I am also discovering once again how he can write great fantasy music, louder, more spacious than his usual sound. Yeah I will definitely go back to seasons 1 and 2 and review them as well.

There is only one fault to the music from the seventh season of “Once upon a time”: that it’s way, way too short. This is the kind of epic fantasy music I can’t get enough with, with buildups and goose bumps raising motifs. This is what every fan should look for in a show that combines Disney characters with folklore fairy tales, with imagination and adventure. You’ve got 24 magic, delight filled minutes right here, do not miss them.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Highlights:
The Fates of All Heroes (Mark Isham & Michael D. Simon)
Closest Thing to a Friend (Mark Isham & Michael D. Simon)
Rescue and Reunion (Mark Isham & Cindy O’Connor)
The Boy Who Forgave (Mark Isham & Michael D. Simon)
Evolution, Wisdom and Love (Mark Isham & Michael D. Simon)
Reunited for Eternity (Mark Isham & Cindy O’Connor)
The Good Curse (Mark Isham & Cindy O’Connor)
The Good Queen (Mark Isham & Cindy O’Connor)
Leaving Storybrooke (Mark Isham)

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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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