Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues
Musical Score By: Zach Robinson and Leo Birenberg
Distributed by: La-La Land Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Taking place thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament in the original film, Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues is a successful YouTube Red television series starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. Reprising their roles from the original 1984 film, Ralph Macchio is Daniel La Russo, a successful car salesman with a string of car dealerships throughout the Encino valley, and William Zabka is Johnny Lawrence, a down-on-his-luck alcoholic who seeks redemption in his life by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo. Danny and Johnny’s worlds inevitably collide and their rivalry is reignited with the next generation of “karate kids.”
The musical score of Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues was created by the composing team of Zach Robinson and Leo Birenberg. A composer, music producer and electronic musician, Zach Robinson earned a degree in music composition from Northwestern University and made his way into film composing working with acclaimed composer Christophe Beck. Robinson wrote additional music for Ant-Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Frozen, Hot Pursuit, Sisters and The Peanuts Movie, before heading out on his own for such projects like Sing It!, F the Prom, Bad Exorcists, The 200 MPH Club and Born Again Sinner. Leo Birenberg is a musician and composer who studied composition at NYU and USC. He, too, has worked with Christophe Beck, writing additional music for the same movies as Robinson. Since then, Birenberg has worked on the musical scores of Son of Zorn, Take My Wife, Adam Ruins Everything, Big Time in Hollywood, FL and Red Army.
The Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues Soundtrack features a healthy mix of rock and roll and mystical, Japanese-influence orchestral tracks. According to Birenberg, “For Cobra Kai, we created three unique score worlds that each support a different story being told on the show. We like to say Johnny's music is the representation of how he hears himself: as the ultimate badass, scored with face-melting guitar riffs and bruising arena drums. Daniel La Russo’s theme is supported by more orchestral, Japanese-influenced sounds and his tonal palette our through line that connects us to the earlier films and Bill Conti's legendary score.” According to Robinson, “We have the new Cobra Kai students, who are scored with a blend of hard rock (inherited from Johnny), '80s inspired synthwave, and modern EDM. Part of the fun of having established these musical identities was when we got to mix and match them based on the interactions happening between the ever-twisting story arcs of the characters.”
So, when we are listening to music scored for scenes featuring Johnny or his students, we hear some rather slamming rock music, complete with some awesome guitar riffs and an adrenaline-pumping sound. Examples include Awake the Snake, Strike First, Cobra Guy and more. When we listen to music created for scenes featuring Danny, we note Japanese-inspired tracks complete with the gentle orchestral tones associated with the peacefulness inspired by Mr. Miyagi. Examples include Miyagi Memories, Bonsai Lessons, Miyagi's Tomb and more.
The Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues Soundtrack features 28 regular tracks and nine additional bonus music tracks for just under 45 minutes of incredibly enjoyable music. The contrasts of the main characters’ sound blend together when tournaments take place and the frustrations of both characters are also evident in the score. The composing team of Robinson and Birenberg did not only create one slamming musical score for Cobra Kai, but they got to the heart of the main characters and what makes them who they are, brilliantly interpreting their emotional ups and downs through the music they created. Well done! An excellent listen!