Friday, March 3, 2017

Movie Music Musings: The Goldsmith Award 2014

Ready for another Goldsmith Award? While there were plenty of poorly reviewed and attended movies that year, most of them also had uninspiring scores. It took a little bit of research but I did find a movie that fit the bill. The score is gem, one of my favorites of the year, but the movie just didn't click with too many folks.

A Million Ways to Die in the West was Seth MacFarlene trying to bring a modern day Blazing Saddles to the big screen. But I wondered how many people were clamoring for a parody of Westerns. We don't see too many Westerns in theaters any more, and most of them go out of their way to avoid anything traditional. So a movie making fun of traditional western tropes just seemed odd. And most reviewers and the few folks that saw it thought it was odd.

But one thing that worked out great was Joel McNeely's rollicking score. He takes that classic 1950s Western movie sound and just rolls with it. His main theme will remind you of The Magnificent Seven and there is more than a touch of Aaron Copland in there. There is a fun energy to the score and while it does wink at the listener a couple of times, McNeely mostly plays it straight.

The album includes a couple of amusing songs too. The titular A Million Ways to Die in the West has Alan Jackson singing about how perilous it was to live like a cowboy. Then there is the hilarious If You Only Have a Mustache which tells you how to get women by having facial hair.

Lots of great tracks to pick from McNeely's score, but the Main Titles will give you a good taste of the style.

And might as well throw the title song in too!


  1. This movie got reviews that are the very definition of mixed. I have to be in the right mood for it, but you are probably right that the satire works better for those who have seen more classic Western movies than most younger people do today. The humor can be weird – such as the strange visual reference to Amanda Seyfried’s famously big eyes – but it does often work. The music definitely helps.

    1. Yeah I have a friend who is a big Mcfarlene fan, and even he was unimpressed by this one. I've seen a few of the funnier scenes, but one thing he felt was that the film was overly long. That can be killer for a comedy. They rarely work beyond the 95 minute mark.