COMPOSER UNDER THE RADAR #4: JOEL MCNEELY

A versatile composer and film music conductor with a great sense for storytelling and orchestral writing – and the same demanding outcry over and over again: Please give him something HUGE!

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As his parents had been involved in music and theater, American composer Joel McNeely saw himself introduced to a world of notes and instruments at a very young age, learning to play piano, saxophone, bass and flute as a child. Later on, he attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and decided to study jazz in Miami which earned him a master’s degree as a composition major at a school of music in New York. Continue reading

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COMPOSER UNDER THE RADAR #3: DAVID ARNOLD

Seriously, why isn’t this guy scoring movies anymore? His scores are huge, epic, orchestral, beautiful, awesome! Well, this world is strange, really …

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Being a Bond composer later on, British composer David Arnold already knew at the age of seven that he wanted to become a film composer by watching “You Only Live Twice”. After his first feature film, “The Young Americans”, he spectacularly emerged into the film music scene in the mid-1990s by writing rousing orchestral music for “Independence Day” (definitely on my “Great Moments of Film Scoring” list…), “Stargate” and “Tomorrow Never Dies”. This made him one of Hollywood’s most beloved composers also providing music for “Godzilla” and four more Bond movies in the years to follow, the best one being “Casino Royale (although he’s not that good at avoiding spoilers – I mean, “Death of Vesper”, are you kidding me?).

However, his last big scoring assignment has been the wonderfully melodic “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” back in 2010  Continue reading

COMPOSER UNDER THE RADAR #2: CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ

Funny but sad at the same time: Here’s another composer named Christopher whose compositional skills are enormously underappreciated.

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With “Sausage Party” being released in cinemas in some weeks, I thought it would be necessary if not even inevitable to talk about the wonderful orchestral score which has been written by Christopher Lennertz and Alan Menken. The music is simply Lennertz at his very best providing awesome thematic material and epic melodies for Seth Rogen’s R-rated animation movie (they’re even using a choir – “Food Massacre” is a wonderful musical hommage to Goldsmith’s “The Omen”, I almost immediately started laughing while I was listening to that cue…).
Unfortunately, Lennertz’s talent is clearly wasted on some stupid comedies such as “Ride Along” or “Bad Moms” (which is currently playing in theaters) – don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t like the music he’s written for these kind of movies, but he is capable of doing so much more.
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COMPOSER UNDER THE RADAR #1: CHRISTOPHER YOUNG

In this series, I will focus on some incredibly gifted composers that are unfortunately wildly ignored by Hollywood producers/directors despite having composed very entertaining scores for various movies, the first one being Christopher Young.

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30 years after his first truly great success, his muscular “Hellraiser” scores, Young has become something like a modern cult composer: He doesn’t get to score many movies, and if he does, it has pretty much nothing to do with popular mainstream cinema made in Hollywood or somewhere else – which is a real pity!
He’s such a cool guy, very well-regarded by fans and other composers in the scene and having enormous compositional skills. You might already know that Young is an expert when it comes to scoring a horror movie, just listen to his impressive work on “Drag Me To Hell”. But he’s capable of scoring pretty much every movie and genre: His scores for “Creation”, the extremely beautiful “Murder in the First” and the choir-heavy fantasy score for “Priest” are prime examples of his capability. I wouldn’t say his talent is wasted on those movies – it offers probably more possibilities to be really creative – but I would’t mind seeing his name attached to some upcoming blockbusters (okay, he scored “Spider-Man 3”, but that must have been a really bad experience – a lot of pressure due to a troubled post-production and Raimi not working with Elfman, his usual collaborator).
But as long as he’s happy with what he’s doing, it’s fine with me; I just love listening to his music without caring what the movie is all about.
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