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Soundtrack review: Gotti (Pitbull and Jorge Gomez – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Gotti (Pitbull and Jorge Gomez – 2018)



“Gotti” is a 2018 American biographical crime drama film directed by Kevin Connolly and written by Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi. The film is about the life of New York City Gambino crime family mobster John Gotti and his son, and stars John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Spencer Lofranco and Victor Gojcaj. The film languished in development hell for several years with numerous directors and actors, including Barry Levinson and Al Pacino, attached at various points. The film chronicles the three-decade reign of crime boss John Gotti, and his rise as the head of the Gambino Crime Family in New York City, along with his son, John Jr., and his loyal wife. The score was written by …Pitbull and another guy.

My initial reaction when I read who was going to write the score was a good old fashioned WTF, and not the good kind. It’s not like I am against mainstream artists making the switch to film music, since Trent Reznor or Nick Cave or Johny Greenwood are amongst my favourite film music composers while others have also successfully crossed into this realm. It’s not even the fact that I am not a fan of Pitbull’s latino rap sound, that’s a matter of opinion. It’s simply that this is a high profile movie, a mob movie, one of the most complex and popular genres, and the music of Pitbull has absolutely nothing to do with it. This movie needed a high profile composer, or at least a mid level profile composer, but a composer, nonetheless, a film music composer with some experience, considering that the movie stars John Travolta and not a new, unknown actor. Still, there was that tiny voice inside me hoping that I would be pleasantly surprised. Also the fact that there are also a few Pitbull vocal songs intertwined is not helping.

It’s not Pitbull’s fault really. Film score projects can go wrong even with good composers chosen for the wrong project. My least favourite score ever is Eric Serra’s James Bond project “Goldeneye” and while I’m sure I’ve heard worse scores than that, they were for equally bad movies or at least didn’t pretend to mean something. Here, Pitbull starts with “Father and son”, an over six minute long requiem like piece that is orchestral at its core, a simple, almost childish sounding composition that at least makes a bit of sense, rudimentary as it is. The problem with the sound is that it’s mixed quite poorly, it sounds amateurish, as if somebody was trying to write it on his computer in his room. The electronic inserts start to appear, channeling a bit of RCP sound but once again instantly forgettable. There are dramatic passages like “Don’t say another word” that are on par with generic drama music we hear in today’s film world.

The good thing about “Gotti”, the only good thing I can mention is that Pitbull and Jorge Gomez at least tried to make it sound like a film music score; the dramatic tone dominates their composition and they didn’t experiment or infuse the rap latin sound to completely ruin the experience so for me, this is far from being as bad as the aforementioned “Goldeneye”. As a film music score the sound quality is bad, the mixing is bad and there aren’t even any attempts for a theme or motif. There are attempts at drama music but it sounds as if it was played on a toy computer or synth. I would say “Father” is the one cue that could make the cut.

I think Pitbull should have started his film music career with a different kind of project, smaller scale and another story, and worked up from there. Maybe he will, if this is something he wants to pursue. He got the tone right, at least, for “Gotti”, but that’s the only positive thing I can say about it. Think about this as a trip to the past, to the early days of electronic film music scoring when modern gear and equipment was not yet invented.

Cue rating: 51 / 100

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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  1. musicache 10th July 2018

    Good article. I just wonder how you didn’t mention or notice the very obvious plagiarism of metallica’s “nothing else matters” in the film score’s piece “somebody to be”? Or is it just me?

    1. pyngwee 23rd October 2018

      absolutely right! I even searched on the internet if it was not the real lars ulrich who played on the drums part so it looks like metallica

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