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Various Artists: Men In Black II: Music From The Motion Picture (2002)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Film composer Danny Elfman writes music that represents the movie. It’s original music, and his work is usually dark. The mood certainly fits both Men In Black films, as well as projects such as Darkman, Nightbreed, Beetlejuice, Midnight Run, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mars Attacks!, Forbidden Zone and The Frighteners. Rather than devote time and creative energy to a random compilation by various artists, Elfman has carefully woven his music into the story’s plot. As you’d expect, most of it is eerie background music. You can trace the film’s action accordingly, as the music takes you on a tour of outer space, dark urban alleys, remote hiding places, violent battles, and eventual victory. The full studio orchestra offers a variety of sounds, from lush strings and brass to swinging big bands and a delicate chamber ensemble. Elfman’s 18 tracks are not, however, memorable as themes to stand on their own. There have been many in nearly a century of film scoring: for example, “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow” and “Somewhere (There’s a Place For Us).” No, the music found here is bent on enhancing your motion picture experience. At that, Elfman is one of the best. There are two jazz tracks on the soundtrack that leave a lasting impression as theme music: “Worm Lounge #1” and “Worm Lounge #2.” A hot tenor saxophone solo, searing trumpets, rhythmic electric piano, organ, vibes and bongos create a scene of timeless jazz, easily recognized, and always welcome. Tim Blaney’s muppet vocal on the pop anthem “I Will Survive” and Will Smith’s rap attack on “Black Suits Comin’” may turn out to be best-selling hits, but the rest of the score serves merely to provide wholesome impressions of the film’s scenes, and nothing more. Hats off to Danny Elfman for a job well done.

Track Listing: Worm Lounge #1 (Worms in Black); Logo; Titles; Big Jeff; Headquarters; Chop-Chop; Heart Thump; Customs; Hunting for K; J Nabbed/K

Personnel: Danny Elfman- composer; studio orchestra conducted by Pete Anthony; Tim Blaney- vocal on

Record Label: Columbia Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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