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Tales From The Score Keeper: The Game Has Changed

Earl Green gives us the heads up on the latest soundtrack releases!

‘Twas a week before Christmas, and soundtrack fans had reason aplenty to smile, because chances are their stockings contained something they’d wanted to hear for a while. Once more unto the breach, soundtrack fans – and fear not, because a lot of what we’re talking about today are digital releases, so you don’t have to wait for your haggard, beleaguered, overworked mail carrier to bring them to you (for which your haggard, beleaguered, overworked mail carrier is probably quite grateful – spare these poor folks a though this season and maybe throw them a gift card or something in your mailbox, because they really are stepping in for Santa’s reindeer this year).

There’s plenty to hear at year’s end, including Hans Zimmer’s eagerly awaited score for Wonder Woman 1984, but let’s stop burying the lede here: a release some of us have been lusting after for a whole decade has just dropped with practically no fanfare whatsoever.

Just in time to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the film’s release, Disney Records has digitally released, at long last, the complete Daft Punk score from 2010’s Tron: Legacy. The original release was maddening in its incomplete-ness, with several bonus tracks – containing music from rather major scenes of the film – scattered to the winds and attached to bizarre things like mobile phone subscriptions. This digital release finally gathers all of those bonus tracks, and the rest of the previously unreleased material, in one place for your listening pleasure. Get thee to the Grid and crank it…just a bit.

Also out on Disney Records is Volume 2 of the music from season 2 of The Mandalorian, the season finale of which I haven’t watched yet as of writing this, but considering how many of my friends have texted me this morning to warn me away from social media, I’m assuming some stuff happens, so…I haven’t even looked at the track list just in case there’s a flashback to 1999’s month-before-the-movie release of the Episode I soundtrack, of which track 17 was “Qui-Gon Dies An Absolutely Horrific Death, Bet You Didn’t Wanna Know That, Huh?” or somesuch. As always, the Force is with composer Ludwig Goransson.

As mentioned earlier, Wonder Woman 1984 is in the position of being the movie to beat in what is normally a fairly crowded movie season (but, because people aren’t staying home and listening to soundtrack music, this year it isn’t), but there’s plenty of comics-inspired action on the soundtrack front. In addition to that movie’s soundtrack, Blake Neely’s music from season 7 and season 8 of Arrow are now available from Watertower Records, while Hollywood Records brings us Legion: Finalmente, Jeff Russo’s musical highlights from the third season of the FX X-Men spinoff Legion. Considering that this was a season that not only wrapped things up, but wrapped things up with episodes including musical numbers with singing corpses floating in space, the soundtrack will probably be…interesting, to say the least. Also from the small screen comes Node Records’ digital release of music from History Channel’s reboot of Project Blue Book.

Now, you might think that “the game has changed” was a reference to the Tron: Legacy release, and of course it is, but two of Intrada’s three year-end physical releases also earn that headline, because I sense a major sea change in the soundtrack market. Devo alumnus Mark Mothersbaugh’s score to The Croods: A New Age contains no disclaimers about limited pressings, but Intrada’s other selections do – and it’s very diffferent from their usual “we’ll keep it in stock as long as people are ordering it” disclaimer.

Miklos Rosza’s 1952 masterpiece Ivanhoe, and Jerry Goldsmith’s 1982 score from the war movie Inchon both get remastered re-releases, with Inchon clocking in at a whopping three discs. What’s so different about these releases? They both contain the following disclaimer: “This CD release will only be available for 45 days and goes off sale January 30th, 2021, or when supplies run out. The 24-bit, 96kHz hi-res digital format is coming soon to wherever digital music is sold!” Translation, for those of you sitting in the back: people aren’t buying enough compact discs anymore, and we don’t want to be stuck warehousing them, so these things are going to start getting a very limited physical release window before they become download-only.

That is a game-changer for those of us who do like to hold a jewel case in our hands, read detailed liner notes, and have a complete set of a given composer’s works sitting on the shelf. The day of the soundtrack CD release is reaching its twilight, folks.

Keep your masks on so you don’t join the soundtrack CD in its extinction. Stay home and listen to some music, okay? Because there’s plenty to listen to.

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