CD/DIGITAL DOWNLOAD REVIEW - WAITING FOR SUPERMAN
Waiting for Superman
Music by Christophe Beck
21 Tracks 38:19 mins
Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth won him an Oscar, and now his latest documentary, Waiting For Superman, which has already won the Audience Award, U.S. Documentary, at the Sundance Film Festival, is on release in selected US theatres. The film is described as "a deeply personal exploration of the current state of public education in the U.S. and how it affects our children."
The music for the film is written by Christophe Beck, who is known largely for his work on the Buffy The Vampire TV series and a host of comedies. Although his has written scores in most genres, I cannot recall a documentary among his recent assignments, so I was curious to hear this one.
Utilising largely live players, but obviously composed on a smaller scale than in features, Beck opens with "Juice, Shoes, Backpack," which lightly propels us into the film. Written in whimsical fashion, the, strings-driven, fast-moving "Presidential Address" follows, and then "The A thru G" ticks along reprising the opening theme on piano as it proceeds.
After a brief, downbeat pause for "Schools v Neighborhoods, "Anthony" again ticks along nicely, with "3 2 1 Tenure!" offering plucked-stringed sneakiness. A touch of sentiment follows in "Teacher of the Year," largely for solo piano; then the urgent "Firing Range," the urban "Jeffrey Canada," and "Rheebellion," with snare drum offering a slight martial feel to Beck's urban sound.
"Redwood City" has an expectant, somewhat ethereal quality, whilst "All About Options" returns us to the composer's urban keyboards from before. The propulsive "Human Assembly Line" follows, with electric guitar over a Latin-styled backing; with things slowing down for the guitar and piano-lead sentiment of "KIPP."
It's back to the urban feel with the increasingly propulsive "Educational Pipeline," before "Seed," which opens with solo acoustic guitar, before taking on a more hopeful, piano-lead feel, and acoustic guitar continues to lead in the more American-styled "Sound Barrier."
Most of the aforementioned tracks are quite brief, but there follow two lengthier offerings; firstly, "Roll Out," which starts quite sparely on piano, before strings enter, with acoustic guitar taking over from piano; then all of a sudden, an uptempo riff takes over. The second 4-minute-plus track is "The Lottery," which moves along somewhat nervously.
The penultimate track, "Aftermath" offers piano-lead sentiment, before the opening theme returns to close out the score as the title theme.
Mostly light and melodic, though with a moody urban feel at times, some might find it a little too fragmented, but this is often the nature of a documentary score, and this is a competent effort from Christophe Beck, and makes for an interesting side-step from his predominantly comedic output, though the score is not without its whimsical moments, as previously noted.
Already available as a digital download, the album will be released on CD from October 19th.