Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Composed By: Rob Simonsen and Jonathan Sadoff

Music By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, the announcement of the Earth's impending demise brought on by the unstoppable 70-mile asteroid scheduled to arrive in 21 days turns insurance salesman Dodge's (Steve Carell) life upside down.  His wife panics and leaves him and he tries to have fun in his last days, making an attempt to join his friends in the rowdy and reckless behavior.  Meanwhile, his neighbor Penny (Kiera Knightley) decides to focus on her relationship with a self-absorbed musician.  Both unsuccessful in their endeavors, the two find themselves together on a journey to find happiness - Penny with her family in England and Dodge with a high school sweetheart.  But could it be that these two very different people will actually find happiness in each other?

            On June 19, 2012, Lakeshore Records released two albums for this film, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Soundtrack featuring music by various artists and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Score featuring musical scoring by Rob Simonsen and Jonathan Sadoff.  According to Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria, "Music is important to me, so I felt that this story wouldn’t be complete without it."  Thus, music that helped inspire Scafaria when writing the script found its way into the film and into Penny's record collection.  The soundtrack features music by The Beach Boys, INXS, P.M. Dawn, The Walker Brothers, The Hollies, Wang Chung and more. 

            Rob Simonsen began playing piano by ear at a very young age.  He would go on to pursue a study of piano and musical composition in college.  By 2003, Simonsen had composed a musical score for the independent film Westender.  The movie's premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival introduced him to acclaimed composer Mychael Danna.  Simonsen became Danna's assistant, learning more about the art of musical scoring.  Simonsen collaborated with Danna on movies like Management and 500 Days of Summer, before going on to solo film scoring for television series like Dollhouse and Blue Bloods and films like All Good Things and Love Etc

            Born and raised in Highland Park, Illinois, Jonathan Sadoff moved to Los Angeles, California to attend USC’s Thornton School of Music Studio/Jazz Guitar program.  It became apparent that music would be Sadoff's chosen profession as he began scoring student films, working in music studios and performing in various bands while in school.  After graduating, Sadoff composed the musical score of Good Time Max and The Merry Gentleman.  By 2009, The Hollywood Reporter was naming Jonathan Sadoff as one of "15 Composers Primed to Take Their Place on the A-List."  Sadoff doesn't just score films either.  He also plays keyboards and guitar for the band Thenewno2, whose sophomore album, Thefearofmissingout, is scheduled for release on July 31, 2012.

            In order to create the musical score for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Simonsen and Sadoff looked at the music that inspired Lorene Scarafia while writing the script and incorporated some of the recording and arranging techniques used to create those records into their creation of the score.  According to Simonsen, "We approached things with a mind of having the production be a bit vintage.  We used vintage organ sounds that have a slightly 50's, sci-fi esque kind of vibe to them. We wanted to go for a pop style compressed sound for guitars and drums. We used electric bass a bit under the orchestra, which is kind of a 70's thing to do. We recorded with a percussionist, Frank Zummo of the Street Drum Corps and he provided the awesome tapestry of percussion throughout the film." 

            The resulting score is fun and entertaining, featuring synths, strings, keyboards, guitars and percussion.  The overall feel is reminiscent of that of an older science fiction show, with quirky themes and fun sounds.  But the real fun for me was the soundtrack which featured an exciting collection of songs spanning the musical era and from a variety of genre.  These were songs I grew up with - songs about love, the evils of the world, the players out there, the party days and more.  I listened to the Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Score album with great interest, but I found the most enjoyment in listening to the Seeking a Friend for the End of the World album I listened to over and over again with a smile on my face.


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