One of the most important things about any Star Wars movie is the soundtrack. Everyone knows how a Star Wars movie sounds. The opening is classic. There's the great fanfare as the screen goes black and that big chord breaking into the familiar, triumphant main theme when the crawl starts. There are the leitmotifs of Luke, Leia, and The Imperial March, some of which fans can sing by heart. But the Solo: A Star Wars Story soundtrack is very different. For one thing, they don't have the opening. Why? Because, like Rogue One before it, Solo is an anthology film, and does not have a crawl.
Solo is also like Rogue One in that composer John Williams did not write the score. He contributed (more on this in a minute) but the overall score was done by musician John Powell, who is best known for his work on How To Train Your Dragon and Shrek. (Yes, Shrek.)
The score for Solo is 20 tracks in all, 19 of which are done by Powell. The good news is none of the titles listed on the album are direct spoilers, so one can peruse the names in peace. Though some do bring to mind questions, such as the track entitled "Lando's Closet." Seriously, the man's wardrobe gets its own theme song.
Check out the full list:
Now, as for the John Williams track, as everyone will notice, it's the opening theme and it's entitled "The Adventures of Han." Fans might wonder why Williams only did one track and not the whole thing.
The truth is, Williams isn't interested in composing scores for the spin-off films. The reason he's doing Episodes VII-IX is that he sees it as the completion of a life's work, a nine-score magnum opus, on par with what Mozart or Beethoven would have created in their lifetimes. This is not something any classical composer gets a chance to do in the 21st century, let alone have it be music which enters the popular lexicon. (Even Wagner's "Ring Cycle" only stretched four.)
But there's one character in the original trilogy Williams' score overlooked back in the 1970s and '80s: Han Solo never had his own motif. When it came to major characters, John Williams saw Han as secondary. Heck, even Yoda has his own theme. But Han? He got skipped.
Williams' new track rights this oversight from so long ago, and brings Han up to the level of his co-stars with his own theme. That alone makes this soundtrack important to Star Wars score aficionados.
As for the rest of the score, it's really hard to miss that what fans have heard in the trailers sounds nothing like a Star Wars movie. The Solo score is a huge departure from anything fans have heard before. That includes Rogue One, which may have been scored by Michael Giacchino, but which took major cues from Williams' original work.
Powell didn't, and he says that's actually a directive given by Williams himself during the process. Speaking to "Score: The Podcast," Powell said he was told point blank: "Stop being too reverent."
Because in the score I am trying to pick up the lineage, the arc of the piece, you know, of the canon. And it became inhibiting, perhaps. And eventually, John himself said to me 'You know, you do a different thing, don't worry. It's going to be different.'
How different remains to be seen. Solo: A Star Wars Story's soundtrack will not be available for download until Friday, May 25, 2018, when the film arrives in theaters, but pre-ordering is available now.