As big fan of listening to film scores, I never came across the name Jon Brion until ParaNorman fell into my hands. Surprisingly enough I have heard several of his scores before, I just never connected his name to them until today. Jon Brion has scored several films that have stood out over the years including his Grammy award nominates scores for "Magnolia" & "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" along with others such as "Punch Drunk Love", "Step Brothers"," The Break-Up" and "Synecdoche, New York". Jon Brion's love for music doesn't stop at films scores, he also has produced music with Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright and even Kanye West.
Countdown to the release of ParaNorman, with the iPhone Movie Countdown Clock App.
Now than you know a little of the man behind the score, on to ParaNorman! The story of a boy who sees dead people and is tormented for being different and learns that being different is a good thing, especially if you have defend a town from zombies! The score starts off with "Zombie Attack In The Eighties" setting off the tone with what can easily bring back to memories of all the campy horror movies of the 80's, synthesizers and all.
My personal favorites are "Norman At The Piano" the soft and haunting main theme and "Norman's Walk" which reflects Norman's everyday lonely walk, where the audience learns of Norman's ability to communicate with the dead.
"Enter Neil-Mr. P-Ghost Walk-Ghost Dog" takes us through the motions of everyday Norman. The next few songs don't stand out as much more than Norman finding his way through life searching for his destiny. "The Dead Shall Rise" is the true start of the chaos, coming with the playful Elfman-like sound that comes with eerie Tim Burton films. "Zombies Attack" a full attack on the senses, leaving you feeling trapped within an eighties horror film with no escape for eight minutes. But it doesn't end there! "People Attack" continues the battle for another 16 minutes, which actually flashed me back a little to Patrick Doyle's "Dead Again" score, with moments of intense string movements slashing through the piece.
"Aggie Fights" with its tribal drum work and sound effects, bring us right back to Norman, battling to get to the heart of Aggie while "Resolution" takes us to a calmer place where only wind chimes exist and the gift of acceptance allows Aggie to let go and move on. Lastly there's "Oh And One More Thing" which really just ties in most of the recurring themes with 80's horror movie flair.
For me, the score is beautiful but at the same time exhausting. It actually rises way above and beyond what you would expect out of an animated kids film, and yet you listen to it, you could find yourself completely immersed in Norman's world and feel every emotion as only Norman could. ParaNorman is a special film, with a special message and a wonderful score. If you've seen the film, you'll love the score. Personally, I can completely see "Norman At The Piano" And "Norman's Walk" on an compilation album of Brion's best work.
Jon Brion's ParaNorman score is avilable on most major retail outlets as well as on iTunes.
-- Sean Ferguson