Staten Island Summer Soundtrack and Score

Music Composed By: John Swihart

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the comedy Staten Island Summer, high school graduates Danny (Graham Phillips) and Frank (Zack Pearlman) are working as lifeguards for the summer while they try to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their life.  In the meantime, as summer comes to a close, they and the rest of their misfit band of lifeguards are on a mission to throw the wildest party of the summer.

                In August 2015, Lakeshore Records released two albums featuring music from the film.  The Staten Island Summer Soundtrack features songs from the movie by artists such as King Khan & The Shrines, FAWN, Marva W. Taylor, Ugly Duckling, One Eighty and Zeus.  The Staten Island Summer Score features musical score created by John Swihart, an American composer who began his musical career at a very young age.  Studying classical piano at the age of five, Swihart went on to learn the saxophone and guitar.  He majored in composition, production and engineering at the Berklee College of Music and performed in various bands before deciding to create his own studio for writing and producing music for films.  Swihart's film and television score credits include Napoleon Dynamite, How I Met Your Mother, Youth in Revolt, Greek, Switched at Birth, For A Good Time Call and more.

                The songs of Staten Island Summer range from hip-hop to R&B to rock to freestyle and seem to reflect the musical tastes of different generations.  Songs like Luckiest Man by King Kahn & The Shrines, Nothing I'd Rather Be by Marva W. Taylor and Powerful Love by Chuck & Mac have a throwback R&B sound.  Going to the Casino by Philadelphia Grand Jury has a punk, party feel to it.  Tracks like Bob Your Head by Ugly Duckling, Her Majesty's Socialist Request by Rjd2 and The Big Ol' Ass by Has-Lo and Castle (which had me laughing out loud as it played) have that freestyle dance party sound.

                The music found on the Staten Island Summer Score album featured mainly music cues.  They are mostly short tracks with an allusion to comedy at best.  According to John Swihart, "It was very tempting to punctuate funny comedy with music, but Rhys [Thomas, the director] wanted to stay away from that as much as possible."  The score was mainly pianos and strings with some rather cool percussion pieces that aided in making the music rather interesting.  The percussion gave you the impression that something actiony was about to take place in the film.  As Swihart explains, "All the emotional spots were scored traditionally with strings and piano but not without the help of a lot of electronic elements...The 70's style funk stuff was a lot of hand percussion in particular some bongo lines that were played by a great percussionist from Santo Domingo named Reynold Roque. He also played all the Taiko drums for the suspense montage."

                Summing things up, I don't really understand releasing these albums separately.  I think that the best parts of the score and the music could have been combined to make one complete soundtrack, rather than forcing fans of the film to pay extra to have it all.  That being said, though the score was interesting, it was mainly quick musical cues and I would rather spend my hard earned money on music with substance.  Thus, I would recommend buying the Staten Island Summer Soundtrack and downloading the cooler tracks found on the Staten Island Summer Score album to save you some bucks.


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