Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wreck-It Ralph” scores big with composer Henry Jackman, plus original music from Skrillex, AKB48, Owl City and Buckner & Garcia.
BURBANK, CA – The story of an arcade-game bad guy who embarks on a quest to prove he’s really a good guy, Wreck-It Ralph journeys through wildly diverse arcade-game worlds, including the ‘80s-era, 8-bit video-game world of Fix-It Felix, Jr., the ultra-modern first-person shooter game Hero’s Duty and the candy-coated cart-racing game Sugar Rush. Helping to differentiate these worlds from one another are unique cinematography, animation, effects and music. “Music is another way to set the stage and make these worlds completely different,” said producer Clark Spencer.
But not just any music. Filmmakers tapped diverse and unexpected artists to help tell the story. Composer Henry Jackman created the film’s score, which is complemented by original songs and music from Skrillex, AKB48, Owl City and Buckner & Garcia. Directed by Rich Moore, produced by Spencer and featuring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch, Wreck-It Ralph crashes into theatres on Nov. 2, 2012. The film’s soundtrack from Walt Disney Records will be available Oct. 30, 2012.
“When it came to the music of Wreck-It Ralph, said Moore, “we wanted to work with some really talented artists and I love that they aren’t necessarily the people audiences expect to hear in a Disney animated movie. But when they hear the music and how it supports the story and drives the emotion, they’ll say, ‘This is perfect.’”
Moore said he took his lead from the original director of animated movies. “Walt Disney was a pioneer when it came to music. What sounds like classics to us now—Ukulele Ike in Pinocchio, Peggy Lee in Lady and the Tramp—were very unexpected choices.”
Classically trained composer Henry Jackman (Winnie the Pooh, X-Men: First Class) was called on to write the score for Wreck-It Ralph, helping to shape the diverse worlds with music. Jackman researched arcade games and incorporated their classic sounds into the score, bringing the arcade and its individual games to life. “The music transports you,” said Moore. “It channels each era perfectly. [Henry Jackman] is fantastic.”
According to Jackman, the score was driven by the story, which allowed him to tap his classical roots, too. “When something emotional is developing, it actually opens the door to the orchestral score without it feeling imposed,” he said.
Ralph’s quest leads him to the intense, cy-bug-infested world of Hero’s Duty, where he hopes to land a medal. Underscoring the chaos and excitement of the first-person shooter game, Grammy-winning artist Skrillex wrote the game-play music, “Bug Hunt,” hand-picking Netherlands’ producers/DJs/videogame soundtrack composers Noisia to remix the track for the album. “The mood of that game world is high-energy and futuristic. I make music with many different colors of the emotional spectrum—this reflects a more aggressive side of my music.”
Japan’s pop phenomenon AKB48 accompanies Ralph to the land of sweets with the aptly named theme song “Sugar Rush.” “We’ve always thought of Sugar Rush—with its nod to anime—as a game that may have originated in Japan,” said Spencer. “So we went to Japan and got the hottest J-pop group to perform the song that really sets the tone for this ’90s-era cart-racing game: young and hip.”
Owl City (“Fireflies,” “Good Time”) provides an upbeat and story-driven cap to the film with “When Can I See You Again?” According to singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Adam Young, the song offers a bit of an emotional tug-of-war. “It’s a very bouncy, happy, uplifting song, but there’s a bittersweet part of it, leaving a key relationship in the film open-ended.”
Also contributing to the end credits are Buckner & Garcia, the team behind the 1982 Top-10 hit “Pac-Man Fever.” Jerry Buckner of Buckner & Garcia co-produced the song “Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph” with hit songwriter/producer Jamie Houston (Steven Tyler, Macy Gray). “It was great to be invited to contribute a song to the movie and soundtrack,” said Buckner. “The song has an ‘80s pop flavor with a contemporary twist—we’re really happy with how it turned out.”
Source: Walt Disney Studios
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.