August 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  
Klaus Badelt
  Available on Walt Disney Records 60089-7  
Running time: 43.37
Amazon UK   Amazon US


Rambunctious and loud, Klaus Badelt's score to the swaggering actioner Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl fits easily into two categories. Call it the type of music that makes dull chores exciting, and the type that can lead to painful accidents. To put it another way, this is film music's answer to eating too much ice cream too quickly. It might be fun, but oh, my aching head.

Badelt rocks the boat. All sound and fury signifying something on the purely summer blockbuster level (Pirates! In the Caribbean! With an accursed vessel called the Black Pearl!), Badelt's assembly of synths, choir, and orchestra could have a certain kitchen appliance in there as far as I can tell from the onslaught. No buccaneer would mind walking the plank over this wash, for it is too shallow to be of any grave concern.

So what keeps the soundtrack sailing? Badelt's buoyant rhythms--after all, the Media Ventures music team knows drum machines--and shipshape ditties catch the wind. Some of what is memorable is not best remembered, but the 'The Black Pearl' theme does nod to the grand swashbuckling tradition, the presentation of the obligatory love theme ('Moonlight Serenade') is tongue-in-cheek and brings refuge from the action like a port in the storm, the last minute of 'Underwater March' will probably reappear in movie previews, and, so help me, I like the pounding of 'Skull and Crossbones' and the whimsical flair of 'One Last Shot'.

Looking at the packaging, you can tell at least some of those involved knew this was rich syrup. The booklet has a row of tiny movie stills, while the majority of the space goes to credits incorporating the scoring crew's seafaring alter egos (e.g., Nick "The Admiral" Glennie-Smith). And "Pirates of the Caribbean" proudly boasts of another credit: Score Overproduced by Hans Zimmer.

Over-produced, indeed. It may not have more meat on it than the skeletal pirates of the film, but Zimmer made sure the music has big bones.

I cannot recommend Klaus Badelt's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. While a few tracks at a time provide tolerable-to-likeable listening, the added cost in analgesics for the full voyage mean it isn't worth pursuing the bounty.

Jeffrey Wheeler

*(*) 11/2

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