A WRINKLE IN Soundtracks

I purposefully waited until after I saw Black Panther to listen to its soundtrack, the new gold standard for the genre.

I’m not only bringing this up to justify why it’s taken me so long to write about Kendrick Lamar’s latest album. In fact, I’m not even going to do so in this piece (soon, I promise!); rather, I’m mentioning my Black Panther approach now because I’m reversing the equation for A Wrinkle in Time.

Though I initially avoided the former’s soundtrack to retain a clean slate for the actual movie, while listening to it, I realized that my familiarity with the film — specifically how some of the songs are used, or not — colored my thoughts on the tracks. I’m now incapable of judging the album without my evaluation being “tainted” by the movie.

Which, of course, is the point of a conventional soundtrack. But since both Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time are unconventionally chock-full of original songs (more so the former, but both contain more than the norm), I figured it’d be interesting to listen to the latter BEFORE seeing the movie, to explore how the expectations inherently established by the songs out of context will affect my relationship to the film proper.

And the best way to record those expectations is by listening to all of them then writing down my thoughts.

Thus, here are my takeaways from the seven original tracks on A Wrinkle in Time’s soundtrack:

It’s an impressively musical and out-of-your-face beat for DJ Khaled, who’s slowly reintroducing the hype man (master?) mixed with a motivational speaker to popular music. His vocal contributions might sound saccharine — as does Demi Lovato’s crooning — but from what I’m hearing, they’ll conform perfectly to the movie’s tonal world. Should music written for a movie reflect the movie, flaws and all?

I’m not sufficiently familiar with Sade to be losing my mind over her return to music, but this song (and No I.D.’s fairly faithful remix) — which could easily be used to underscore particularly emotional sequences in the movie — definitely set a strong mood; they’re definitely tonally evocative enough for the big screen.

Bomb build, saccharine drop. I’m starting to detect a pattern…

All my research claims that this is considered one of the seven songs written for the movie…but I found a version of it on their album Innercity Griots from 1993! Perhaps a new version appears in the film, but since I can’t find it online, I’ll have to wait and see what iteration of this smooooooth-jazz composition makes it into fairy tale land. 

Kehlani, the queen of the well-crooned saccharine! Ladies and gentleman, if these songs are to be believed, I think we’re in for an earnest-at-best, schmaltzy-at-worst affair.

I have no real response to this song one way or the other. I guess I like the chorus? Could be used well in a movie though, which may elevate both.

And that’s how I feel about this entire collection of songs. They don’t leave much of a distinct impression, nor suggest a cinematic identity apart from traditional and, yes, saccharine Disney messages.

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