music

Top 10 John Williams Star Wars themes

John Williams has scored some of the most iconic movies in cinematic history. He is beyond talented and extremely brilliant. Now we all know a movie isn’t complete without an awesome sounding score to accompany it. Imagine Jaws, Harry Potter, Superman, or Indiana Jones without those beautiful and much needed pieces of music. The same can be said for any of the seven Star Wars films. John Williams has scored and created many themes for many different movies over his carrier. But none are more popular than the music from the Star Wars films. Any fan of these movies will have their own Top 10 list for themes. It was very hard to pick only ten. But without further ado:

10. “Across the Stars” (Love theme from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith)

Let’s kick things off with a little forbidden romance shall we? This is the theme we hear whenever Padme and Anakin are seen on screen and as they share their first kiss with each other. I think it’s a beautiful theme full of passion and joy. It is one of two love themes that John Williams has created for the Star Wars films and here is hoping he creates a few more with Episodes VIII and IX on the way.

9. “Anakin’s Betrayal” (Order 66 theme)

This theme is played out in Revenge of the Sith when the order is given to all the clone commanders and their troops to execute the Jedi across the galaxy. It’s a particular moving piece because it is one of the saddest moments in the prequel trilogy and unlike anything we have seen before in a Star Wars film. Seeing countless Jedi gunned down or shot out of the skies was heartbreaking to see, not to mention the slaughtering of the younglings by Anakin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmhjaFbpkIE

8. “Ben Kenobi’s Death / Tie Fighter Attack”

One of the more thrilling themes from Episode IV is right after the death of Obi-Wan when Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest of the crew jump in the Falcon to escape the Death Star hanger to then only be pursued by a squad of Tie Fighters. The suspense leading up to the Tie Fighters approaching, to Luke and Han taking to the laser cannons on the Falcon to blast them away is like one big adrenaline rush. A small and quick scene compared to most on this list, but it sure packs a punch.

7. “The Battle of Endor I”

I picked Part 1 from the rest of the pieces from this battle is because of this heart pounding opening. It’s goes from suspenseful and quiet to loud and dramatic when the Rebel fleet realizes the shield to the Death Star is still operational. Chaos ensues as Lando leads the attack in space, Han and Leia along with the droids and help from the Ewoks lead the ground battles, and Luke is forced to watch the Rebel fleet get pulverized in space as Vader and his Master look on. And of course as always…IT’S A TRAP!

6. “Cantina Band”

Of course we can’t have a Top 10 list like this without having the “Cantina Band” theme in here somewhere! This is just a really fun theme to hear and grove along with. It is a departure from the heavy brass and strings we normally are used to in Star Wars films and John Williams gives a nice light feeling to this space opera.

5. “Duel of Fates”

This theme still gives me chills to this day. I remember being in the theater and when the doors opened to reveal Darth Maul standing there and then the choir kicked in was haunting. This piece had been something we haven’t heard before in the previous trilogy of films. With three new films for a new generation of fans, John Williams had to revamp the scores a bit for these. Nothing was ever this fast paced with choirs and brass combined in the original trilogy. A very intense track from the prequel trilogy and the best piece of music from Episode I by far.

4. “Han and Leia’s Theme”

A love theme for the ages. This was the very first love theme we got out of the Star Wars movies and boy did John Williams deliver. This is a soft and beautiful piece used to show the affections between Princess Leia and Han Solo. First heard in The Empire Strikes Back and continued on through Return of the Jedi and finally heard again in The Force Awakens, the fans always know when this plays on the screen we will get some kind of interaction between the couple, whether it’s them fighting or saying “I love you” is a different story.

3. “Rey’s Theme”

The number three spot is taken by my favorite theme from The Force Awakens and that is of course “Rey’s Theme”. I think it is one of the best character themes in the saga. John Williams really gives you a sense of adventure, hope, strength, wonder, and curiosity all mixed into one theme and that perfectly describes Rey in the film. It has been compared to Luke’s theme or the “Force” theme from the rest of the films as well which is something I can totally see.

2. “The Force Theme” ( Also known as Luke’s theme)

Speaking of Luke and the Force, here is my number two pick. This theme can be found in every single Star Wars film and TV show to date. It is universally known to the fans as the theme that surrounds almost anything to do with the use of the Force or the good guys in general. It is a great theme and is a very emotional and powerful theme at that. It’s known that the Force binds living things together. And the Force is strong with this theme.

1. “Star Wars Main Theme”

Anyone surprised by this number one pick? Well you shouldn’t be. It is of course the opening to the Star Wars films. This is arguably one of if not the most iconic opening themes in movie history. Even if you aren’t a fan of Star Wars, once you hear this theme you know where it’s from. I always get excited to hear this theme and when you first heard it in the theater again during Episode VII the whole place cheered. This to me is Star Wars, this is one of John Williams’ finest pieces of music he has ever written and will go down in history as such.

So how did I do? Did your favorite theme from the Star Wars saga make it on the list as well? Which John Williams theme from Star Wars is your favorite? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.

Top 10 John Williams Star Wars themes

The Errors in Yakko’s Nation Song

Lately I’ve had way too many Animaniacs songs stuck in my head, thanks to the recent addition of the 90s hit cartoon to Netfilx. All of the songs are sharp and catchy and that’s why Animaniacs won both Emmys and Peabody awards. But the “Nations of the World” song is still the most popular, most remembered. And in my case the one that is still stuck in my head. Aside from cartoons I was always fascinated with geography so this song stuck with me over the years but I’ve wondered about the accuracy. Some nations were left off while some other small mistakes were made here and there. Lets give this song a closer look.



 

Facts and Trivia:

The Nations of the World was sung by the voice actor for Yakko Warner, Rob Paulsen, who would later go on to voice Pinky from Pinky and the Brain. Interestingly later on in a nod to this song Brain derides Pinky’s stupidity and asks him if there is in fact anything that he does know, Pinky replies, “I know all the words to ‘Yakko’s World’ as they are both voiced by the same actor.

Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen and his work

 

Paulsen’s rendition has been so popular that he often sings the entire song at conventions without missing a beat or dropping a country. But few people realize that the song was written by a person from another one of the WB’s other hit shows of the 90s, Batman the Animated series. Randy Rogel had wanted to work on the more whimsical and musical Animaniacs but no one at Warner Bros thought he could do it, he didn’t much experience with comedy. But at the time Rogel’s son was studying geography for school and Rogel was struck by how easily the North American countries rhymed with each other. Despite Rogel’s writing talents and enthusiasm for the song there were a few omissions and errors that creeped in to it. It’s still an amazing little song but lets take a closer look at those mistakes.

Batman Animated Series



 

Omissions:

Soviet Bloc

The most glaring omissions are the absence of all of the Soviet Bloc countries; Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, to name a few. The reason for this was simple. The song was written just before the fall of the USSR. And though Animaniacs aired nearly two years after these nations came to be, animation has a long lead time, much longer than a live action show. You write it, draw it, voice it, do the music and so on. All of this has to be done in sequence, one after the other. Commonly it can take a year or so from start to finish. So when the song aired there was just Russia.

2164658-soviet_union

In Soviet Russia Song Makes You an Error

South Africa

There really is no good reason to have left South Africa off the list of nations, especially when the smaller nation of Lesotho was in the song. Interestingly Lesotho is land locked by South Africa. The same with Swaziland, both of who’s history’s are closely tied to South Africa. Its something similar to Indian reservations in North America except Lesotho and Swaziland have complete autonomy despite being surrounded on all sides by South Africa. These two little nuggets of state hood curiosity are hard to examine without first looking to South Africa history. This by far the most damning omission, very inconsistent of Yakko. Yakko is going to have to take an F for is geography grade.

98036-South-Africa-110

 

United Arab Emirates

Another lesser known country was left out, United Arab Emirates. U.A.E. It’s considered to be the business center of the Gulf States. Its capitol, Abu Dhabi, is considered to be at the heart of commerce and is often referred to as the Venice of the Middle East. Many of its buildings and business tend to be state of the art and look way ahead of its time. So much so that many movies choose to shoot there including the up and coming Star Trek Beyond. It’s a slight omission, I hope Yakko didn’t mean anything by it, the little rascal.

 

 

The Vatican
The Holy See is technically its own nation, it maintains diplomatic ties with many nations. All despite only occupying a small part of Rome itself that is in fact a part of the nation of Italy. There are a few reasons for this but mainly it’s a clever way of having a separation of church and state, one that isn’t exactly duplicated elsewhere. It’s so tiny and not many people know it is its own nation so I can’t blame Yakko too much.

Holy See

Oceanic Nations

The song also leaves off many of the small Oceanic countries, ones with small land masses and tiny populations. Leaving micro nations like Samoa or Tonga off but this is understandable as many people can’t find these on the map. But they could’ve been easy to rhyme in the song. Sorry tiny micro nations

 

Wales and Scotland
Oddly enough the Yakko highlights the United Kingdom in the song but sings out Britain. Lumping Scotland, Wales, and Britain together. Interestingly Yakko does have Scotland by itself though to be consistent he should have used the United Kingdom. Hey let’s face the U.K. is complicated for some people, especially monkey dog like cartoon creatures. It’s a minor error that a lot of Americans would make I’m sure. I guess we can forgive Yakko for this to and it makes William Wallace happy I’m sure.

wallace scotland



 

Territorial Errors:

Yakko’s nation song repeatedly makes mistakes in regard to territories. San Juan is mentioned twice , presumably to represent Puerto Rico when in fact it’s a territory of the United States. Puerto Rico is  rather happy to be one I might add as they continually vote to decline independence. The same for Guam in the pacific. Transylvania is mentioned twice but is actually apart of Romania, though this is understandable as Bram Stroker’s Dracula made this region famous. However the largest error by square mileage would be Greenland which belongs to small nation of Denmark, mainly because no one else wants it I guess. Lots of snow and cold, no thanks, Denmark can just keep Greenland. Hong Kong is also sung but it was actually a territory of the United Kingdom at the time and hadn’t been returned to China until 1999. It was never its own nation.

2000px-Flag_of_Puerto_Rico.svg



 

Redundancies:

For naming purposes several nations were used twice, Benin, Algeria, and Romania. The territory of Puerto Rico is mentioned twice as well when San Juan is called. Well I suppose its better than making up fictional countries, Yakko would try to sneak over something like this on us if we let him. Nothing wrong with this Yakko, no demerits for him technically.



 

Final Grade:
I’d still have to give Yakko an A+ if anything but for tenacity. Setting out to sing all the nations in the world is an epic undertaking. Making it all fun and catchy is the quite the accomplishment. Most importantly it helped to make geography fun and interesting to children, and I was one of those kids. When so many other cartoons where silly and immature Animaniacs occasionally could show that nerdy stuff was okay and it was even a little fun to. For that I’m willing to overlook a lot, even the occasionally error and omissions. Sorry South Africa and U.A.E., maybe you’ll make the updated version of the song if there is one. (fingers crossed)

Yakko F

Its okay, in my heart you get an A+

 

With the Animaniacs now on Netflix, are you looking to do a rewatch of the classic cartoon? Comment below with your thoughts!

The Errors in Yakko’s Nation Song

James Horner’s Top 5 Musical Scores

James Horner’s prolific work spans over three decades. Choosing five of his works hardly seems fair since he has A LOT to choose from. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather my personal favorites from his works. So, without further ado and in no particular order…

1. An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

I can trace this back to the earliest James Horner score I truly started listening to. Watching this movie, the music stood out to me as a wonderful background template for all of Fievel’s adventures. From the creepy sewer ride to the epic chimes used in the wild west gunfights, this score is a masterful ode to all Westerns that came before.

2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I first watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan just after seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I was convinced no one could do better than Jerry Goldsmith. I was actually expecting James Horner to use most of Goldsmith’s themes from the original; however, as I watched the vastness of space envelope my television screen, I heard Alexander Courage’s old theme, which I thought was a nice touch. But then! Then I heard Horner’s original theme for the movie. It was perfect! It was not better or worse than Jerry Goldsmith’s theme. It was its very own. This started a trend for Star Trek movies in which different composers would not recycle the themes of previous ones. Rather, they made Trek their own, the most recent being Michael Giacchino for the Abrams-verse films.

3. Aliens

Once again, Horner was taking the reigns of the music from Jerry Goldsmith; however, in this case, Aliens was a completely different movie than Alien. Horner established a sort of slow and oncoming creepiness in his work in this film when it was needed, but during the action sequences, it was off the handle, complete with an epic theme for Ripley’s escape from the alien nest.

4. Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger represents the last of the Harrison Ford Jack Ryan movies and, to many, the last Jack Ryan movie at all. This was a very sincere score which matched the film’s theme of Jack Ryan’s honesty in everything, despite being pressured by the government to do otherwise. In a way, the score perfectly captured the true patriotism of serving your country as well as the hand-in-hand need for integrity.

5. The Rocketeer

If there is one word that can be used to summarize James Horner’s work for The Rocketeer, it would be “flight.” Soaring through the clouds and fighting to take down the diabolical Nazi plan, this score throws all of it together is a delightful mix.

As I said before, this is not an exhaustive list. James Horner has composed many other fantastic scores. Which ones were your favorites? Feel free to mention them in the comments.

 

James Horner’s Top 5 Musical Scores