Title: How To Train Your Dragon
Media Type: Feature Film Soundtrack
Composer: John Powell (co-wrote Shrek and The Road to El-Dorado soundtracks, wrote for the Bourne Trilogy)
Origins: Gift

My Review: In honor of an Oscar Nomination (in the only category I actually follow) I thought today would be the perfect time to review the soundtrack of How To Train Your Dragon. Aside from the fact that I want this film NOW because it is just that cute, the soundtrack is extremely well written and can stand on its own any day.

One of the first things that caught my ear on this one is the strong influence of folk music. I am always amazed at the amount of musical styles Film composers seem to be familiar with. This particular score shows strong influence of both Nordic and Celtic styles, which are both relevant to the culture Hiccup lives in (perhaps Nordic slightly more than Celtic). These styles are replicated so well that they seem to come from the setting instead of being just extra commentary – to the point that I could swear I’d played the tune at one of my local Irish sessions! At the same time, Powell adds in symphonic elements like timpani and brass that just do not belong in the style and somehow makes them work. Really, really well. Plus, I could swear I heard a Hardanger in there and I got kind of excited (think Rohan from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, it’s a Nordic violin type instrument). Oh and I had a bit of a squee at all the flute solos – the flutist in me would have loved to work this score!

The other thing that really spoke to me about this one was how well the soundtrack reflected the message of the film. It is a very uplifting soundtrack, full of epic horn lines with swirly flute and string parts all around them. The whole film is about being happy with who you are, and the soundtrack shows that through the absolute triumph in the tracks that play while Hiccup and Toothless are flying. At the same time, it does have it’s dark moments, as every soundtrack does. These contrast nicely with the “flying high” tracks giving the film a grounded-ness it needs.

The only track I won’t be listening to regularly is the credits track “Sticks & Stones,” and that is only because when I’m listening to a soundtrack, I want just the soundtrack. I’m weird like that. Favorite tracks include “See You Tomorrow,” “The Kill Ring,” and “Where is Hiccup?”

Those of you watching the Oscars will have to tell me how this one does – there’s some stiff competition, and while I’m supporting How to Train Your Dragon I don’t exactly want some of the others to lose. (Inception also has an amazing soundtrack, but I just didn’t feel strongly enough about it, because I’ve yet to see the movie.)

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