There's no denying that much of the heart and soul of any Pixar film lies within the music. Though the images on screen are powerful and beautiful on their own, the music adds an emotional depth and fun that ties everything (the animation, the voice acting, the sounds, etc.) together.
I look forward to Pixar soundtrack releases like no other, so needless to say I was greatly anticipating Finding Dory. I love what composer Thomas Newman did with Finding Nemo and Wall·E and I was excited to hear what he came up with this time around.
Over the past few days, I've been listening to this soundtrack and really internalizing it. During my initial listen, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a melody/theme that was as instantly iconic as the original Nemo theme. After multiple listens, I still feel that this is the first time a Pixar score hasn't included a main theme that I can hum or whistle. However, I've come to the conclusion that this is a stunningly beautiful score regardless. I honestly can't stop listening to it.
This score has an incredibly unique and diverse flavor to it, though it's still very much Thomas Newman's signature style. Like the film itself, some cues are sad and tragic, some are cute and heartfelt and some are just downright fun (and, surprisingly, very "spy film-esque"). Much of it is actually quite soothing and tranquil, while you also have some great action set pieces. You'll find a fantastic combination of orchestra, electronic instruments/sounds and choir.
This is a very different score than Finding Nemo and is in no way a rehash. In fact, there are only three brief tracks that use some familiar themes from the first film:
- Track 4- "One Year Later" (reprises the frantic "Nemo is lost" theme as well as the "coral reef" theme)
- Track 8- "Gnarly Chop" (reprises the surfer dude "Crush/sea turtle" theme)
- Track 21- "Everything About You" (finally reprises the tender "Nemo Egg" theme that you know and love)
To wrap things up, my top 10 favorite tracks out of the 34 are:
- Track 2- "Finding Dory Main Titles"
- Track 3- "Lost at Sea" (both Track 2 and 3 utilize Dory's emotional theme heard throughout)
- Track 5- "Migration Song"
- Track 12- "Nobody's Fine" (introduces the fly, fast paced Hank/escape theme heard throughout)
- Track 18- "Almost Home"
- Track 19- "Open Ocean"
- Track 20- "Two Lefts and a Right" (expands on a theme introduced in Track 7- "Jewel of Morro Bay". See also Track 26- "No Walls")
- Track 21- "Everything About You" (again, I loved hearing the original Nemo theme reprised)
- Track 25- "...Shells" (no doubt my favorite track on the whole album; absolutely beautiful. It gives me chills every time)
- Track 29- "Quite a View"
The bottom line: Though perhaps not littered with as many memorable themes as its predecessor, I'm actually going to surprise myself and say that I actually enjoy listening to this score all the way through (from beginning to end) more than Finding Nemo. It's the overall feel of this score, more than the memorability of the themes, that has won me over. And having seen Finding Dory three times now, I could not imagine the music matching more perfectly with the visuals than what Thomas Newman has created here.