Pixar's Soul Soundtrack

In a little under two months, Pixar’s latest film Soul will arrive on Disney+ on Christmas Day. It’ll be the second film that The Walt Disney Company has sent to the streaming service in the wake of the coronavrus pandemic, and the first feature length Pixar movie to not get released in theaters in the United States. But the movie is also breaking ground in another way, as it will be the first Pixar film to have two separate soundtracks released to celebrate the music we’ll hear throughout.

One of the soundtracks will feature the score from composers Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross,who have scored David Fincher’s films The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl. The other soundtrack will have all the jazz songs and arrangements written and performed by Jon Batiste, acclaimed jazz musician and band leader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Both of the soundtracks will be released the week before the movie arrives on Disney+ (and thanks to Collider for calling our attention to this).

When it comes to the score by Reznor & Ross, it sounds unlike anything you’ve heard in a Pixar movie before. It has a real ethereal and otherworldly quality to it that jibes well with all the wild imagery that comes from The Great Before and The Great Beyond, the worlds that deal with souls before life and after life. Batiste himself tried to create a jazz soundtrack that played well along with that score. During a virtual presentation from Pixar Animation that /Film was invited to, the musician said:

“I wanted to find some jazz music that had an ethereal and very universal, accessible form with melodies and harmonies that had that same spirit. There’s an optimism in them, and it’s also a bit melancholy at the same time. There’s ways that you can modulate and change the key, and it just hits you right here. It’s a very soulful feeling. Every song has those kind of harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic textures, and it brings you to a place spiritually.”

Even though there are two separate soundtracks being released by Pixar, Batiste also talked about some of the moments when Batiste’s music meshed with the score by Reznor & Ross. The musician continued:

“Even if you don’t know how to describe it, it puts you in a space throughout the whole film when you’re hearing that music, and it really complements what Trent and Atticus came up with. The times in the film when our music comes together, when the worlds kinda collide, it’s amazing how it worked out. I really am thankful that we had the chance to do that because at first, we didn’t even hear each other’s music. Then, as the process started to go along, I got a chance to hear some of the music they were making, they heard some of the music that I was making, and we came together in this one moment.”

The movie promises to be Pixar’s most mature and ambitious story yet, and the music in particular is something I can’t wait to hear in full next month. You can pre-order the score for Soul on vinyl from Amazon for $15.99, and you can also pre-order the vinyl soundtrack of Jon Batiste’s jazz songs at Amazon for $19.98.

If you’d like to hear more about Soul, be sure to check out our reaction to roughly 40 minutes of footage that was shown to us by Pixar earlier this year. You can also get some insight into the making of the movie with our report from Pixar’s special press presentation. In the meantime, here’s the official synopsis for Soul:

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Soul arrives on Disney+ on December 25, 2020.

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