Movie Soundtrack

Disney · Pixar

Cars 3 Score and Soundtrack

Musical Score Composed By: Randy Newman

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed By: Walt Disney Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In Cars 3, the animated film from Disney Pixar, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is now considered a veteran racer…a legend.  Unfortunately, a new generation of faster racers, using newer technology, are pushing him out of the sport he loves.  A near-career-ending crash has Lightning considering retirement, but how can he let these newer racers force him into retirement?  He takes inspiration from his late mentor the Fabulous Hudson Hornet (Paul Newman) and, training with Cruz (Cristela Alonzo), a young race technician with a secret desire to actually race, Lightning heads back to the track, facing the test of a lifetime at the Piston Cup Race in Florida.  Can Lightning still tear up the track?

                The third Cars movie has inspired two separate album releases.  The Cars 3 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features eight tracks of songs featuring various artists, including Brad Paisley, ZZ Ward, Andra Day, Lea DeLaria and more.  The Cars 3 Original Score features music composed and conducted by Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman.  A singer, songwriter, pianist, composer and arranger, Newman comes from a rather musical family, with uncles and cousins all composing music for film.  In the midst of a lengthy career as a songwriter and composer, Randy Newman began working on musical score for television.  His work with Disney•Pixar is extensive, including all of the Toy Story films, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc and the original Cars.  Other scoring credits include Avalon, Parenthood, James and the Giant, Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, Awakenings and more.

                Using a 110-piece orchestra to record the score, Randy Newman created a sound that perfectly captures the emotions of the film.  There are some somber moments in the Cars 3 score like the moment of Lightning’s Crash, Doc's Painful Demise and Lightning’s Flashback of the crash.  But there is no denying Lightning’s love for the race as is evident in tracks like McQueen's Wild Ride, Fireball Beach and more.  Races have that adrenaline-pumping feel, complete with a fast-paced, energetic score that will have you on the edge of your seat. 

The soundtrack features some terrific instrumentals by Brad Paisley (Truckeroo, Thunder Hollow Breakdown) that are used in race scenes and should not be listened to while driving (you run the risk of being pulled over thanks to a need for speed).  Run That Race is a rocking track used to open the film.  According to songwriter Dan Auerbach, “The song is about never giving up and always trying your best.  They showed me the storyboards and ran through the plot. I was able to read some of the dialogue and from there I had enough to piece together a story in my mind for the song.”  The song totally captures the message of the film.  ZZ Ward’s Ride has an awesome rock/funk sound and is another inspiring song about just getting out there and achieving velocity, never letting your head get in the way of what you feel in your heart. 

The rest of the songs on the soundtrack are remakes – Bruce Springstein’s Glory Days performed by Andra Day, The Beatles Drive My Car performed by Jorge Blanco, Aretha Franklin’s Freeway of Love performed by Lea DeLaria and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Kings Highway performed by James Bay.  I really wasn’t jazzed by any of these tracks, especially Day’s reimagining of Glory Days…in a word, yeesh!

Overall, I would say that my Cars 3 listening experience was a lot of fun, though I would caution against buying the whole Soundtrack album and advise you to pick and choose your favorites in mp3 form.  As for the score, Randy Newman is a star and knows just what is needed when to enhance the visuals of Cars 3.  Definitely a score worth checking out!


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