Musical Score By: Various Artists
Performed By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I was a kid, I loved to read comic books with superheroes who would come to the rescue whenever the world was in peril. That love of superheroes didn't fade with time and it didn't go away when I put that comic book down either. There were other outlets for that superhero fan in me - I could watch superheroes on TV and in the movie theaters. A good superhero always has a special theme and some of those themes have been quite memorable over the years. In September 2012, Silva Screen Records released Super Themes, a collection of fifty years of superhero musical themes, in mp3 format. The album was released in CD format in October 2012.
The Super Themes 2-CD set features thirty-three tracks spanning the last five decades of superheroes in the media and features music by composers like John Williams, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Neal Hefti, Patrick Doyle, Alan Silvestri, Joseph LoDuca, James Horner, Ramin Djwadi and more. The music is performed by various artists, including London Music Works, The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, The Daniel Caine Orchestra and more.
The first CD starts off with the music of Batman, beginning with the last Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises and working its way back to the original Batman television series. I found it interesting to see the progression of the musical scores as we traveled back in time from the darker, more sophisticated themes of the latest trilogy to the less sophisticated, more heroic themes of the earlier Batman movies to the campy jazz theme of the television series. After that, we are presented with themes from newer superhero films like Captain America, Thor, The Avengers and Iron Man. We then take a step back in time for the original television theme of The Incredible Hulk. I have always loved that theme, a light, sad piano theme that relays the sadness of the story of David Banner and is in such contrast with the monster he can become when agitated. The final tracks on the CD are dedicated to Superman, featuring the great Main Theme and Love Theme created by James WIlliams, Supergirl's Main Theme by Jerry Goldsmith and the Smallville main theme, Save Me.
The second CD starts off with a nod toward Spider-Man featuring music from the most recent film and working its way back to the theme from the cartoon television series. Next comes the X-Men, followed by some more unusual superheroes like those found in Kick-Ass, Hancock and Transformers. Music from The Fantastic Four, Judge Dredd, The Shadow and The Rocketeer movies all make an appearance here, followed by themes from the television series Heroes. After that, its an adventure in TV-land as we listen to the main themes from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess and Danger Mouse. Then we wrap things up with the theme from the Wonder Woman television series of my youth.
I had a great time listening to Super Themes as I knew most of the scores that appeared on the album, including the old television themes. The musical scores were performed extremely well and whoever decided how the tracks would be arranged did a great job in keeping the listener glued to their seat. My only problem is with the re-orchestrated songs. There are certain songs that will stick with us, like the campy jazz of Batman (Bat-man, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Bat-man), the disco-y Wonder Woman theme, the Greek-based Xena: Warrior Princess theme and the rocking Smallville theme. In my opinion, these songs were performed rather poorly by the singers enlisted for this project and in some places, the music was too fast or too slow, further compounding the singer's issues.
While I believe there were other overlooked superhero themes that could have added nicely to this album (Birds of Prey, Daredevil, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Watchmen, The Punisher, Flash, Green Lantern, etc), I still think that Super Themes is an excellent collection of superhero themes from over the years. Is it a definitive collection? No. Is it an album that I am happy to add to my music shelf? Absolutely!