Musical Score By: Jon Ehrlich and Jason Derlatka
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The Slap, an American adaptation of the Australian series of the same name, revolves around the aftermath of a birthday party in which Harry (Zachary Quinto), an adult, slaps Hugo (Dylan Schombing), someone else’s child after he kicks Harry in the leg. Hugo’s mother (Melissa George) insists on filing criminal charges, stating that this slap has caused her son post-traumatic stress. An eight-part miniseries event, The Slap aired in 2015 on NBC.
The score of The Slap was created by the composing team of Jon Ehrlich and Jason Derlatka. Ehrlich studied music and theater at Yale University, graduating Scholar of the House. He spent years writing musicals until he got a position at Warner Bros. Feature Animation, writing the musical film The Jester. Since then, he has earned five Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music Composition (Series) for House M.D., The Agency and Roar. He has also created musical score for such notable projects as About a Boy, Parenthood, White Collar, Life, Invasion, The Guardian, Graceland, Party of Five and Ask Me Anything. Jason Derlatka is also primarily a television score performer, having worked on such notable series as Tarzan, Tru Calling, Waterfront, Women’s Murder Club and Conviction. The two have worked together on Invasion, House, Parenthood and About a Boy.
According to Ehrlich, “The Slap is unique in that it centers around a single event, but the reverberations of that one moment impact each of the characters differently. In an early meeting I referenced Stephen Sondheim – Walter [F. Parkes, executive producer] loved the idea of a Sondheim influenced language for the score. I think we had an instinct that it would serve the show’s emotionally layered and complex architecture.” To that end, The Slap is piano driven. The main theme is jazz, but each character theme is a bit different, expressing the emotions of that character in various ways.
Piano themes mixed with violins have two uses. Sometimes they are somber as in the tracks Sorry Daddy and The Gathering Storm. Other tracks featuring the same musical instruments are quite different and almost beautiful. Harry's Theme features a touch of electronic reverb, perhaps emanating the impact of his actions upon his own mind.
While I have no doubt that this score works with the emotional drama of the film, it just doesn’t seem to work for me as a standalone album. The tracks are thankfully short, but there are a whole lot of them – to be expected with an eight-part miniseries. And though I get what the composers were trying to do with the various themes, as a standalone album, the variety of styles will only serve confuse the listener. . The Slap Soundtrack is mainly for fans of the television miniseries, others will probably stay clear of the purchase.