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Super by Tyler Bates


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Super (Soundtrack) by Tyler Bates

Composed by Tyler Bates
Lakeshore Records (2010)

Rating: 2/10

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“The SUPER soundtrack verges on an insult to anyone expecting something that resembles a film score”

Super or Duper?
Review by Richard Buxton

16 minutes. That’s all the score you’ll get if you decide to part with the cash required to purchase SUPER’S soundtrack. Of course, if TYLER BATES’ 16 minutes of original music were to revolutionize film scoring as we know it, this could potentially be forgiven. Instead, SUPER offers listeners the chance to hear what is surely one of the most incomprehensibly structured scores in recent memory.

SUPER will inevitably be subject to countless comparisons to the excellent KICK ASS, and critically it is certainly suffering in the shadow of the 2010 comic-book-action flick. A lack of originality is obviously not something that should be condemned instantly, otherwise very few modern films would see the light of day, but it does set up certain expectations that need to be met to avoid a legacy of failure. One trait that SUPER is entirely original in is the TYLER BATE’S score, and the “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”. The originality on display here is not heard in the music itself, but in how poorly the soundtrack is presented. The 35 minutes or so of licensed music, almost apologetically punctuated by the odd score track, makes for a painfully stilted listening experience, and ensures that SUPER will remain a bastion of the inexplicable in soundtrack history.

After the debacle of 300 and a general stream of mediocre scores with the occasional standout moments, a TYLER BATES score is unlikely to be the subject of breathless anticipation within the film score community, but with SUPER, the music on offer and the structure it resides in is simply poor. The score hits the peak in the very first track “Two Perfect Moments” (2), offering an initially interesting vocal-based track that quickly becomes grating, and sets a decisively mediocre precedent for the rest of the score.

“Finger of God” (8) is about as formulaic as film music gets. The propulsive strings mixed with an awkward pitch-bending synth, and simple string and choir blasts evoke none of the emotions they were clearly designed to, such is their simplicity and brashness. The orchestration heard within the piece makes for an unfinished and dry texture that does little for the ears. “Holy Avenger’s Advice” (9), the very next track, displays a similarly weak foundation, and the curious choice of an organ eventually lays way to an almost insultingly anti-climactic ending. “The Second Prayer” (12), like “The Prayer” (5) echoes this with a strangely premature end to an uninspired, but somewhat relieving relaxed composition.

The penultimate score track, “Libby Goes Down” (15), is clearly the most ambitious piece heard in super, although ambitious may be a little flattering in this case. The track can almost be summed up as 5 minutes of generic music intended for a trailer, rather than an actual film. The pulsating synth-line, heard beneath the afterthought wailing vocals and formulaic strings are perhaps the only noteworthy element of the piece that ends in yet another anti-climax.

BATES’ contribution to the soundtrack comes to a merciful end in “Aftermath and Resolution (16) as the opening score track is refit for an attempt at reflection and catharsis. BATES’ clearly has an affinity for anti-climax as the finale maintains the pattern set before it, summing up the limp score offering.

The licensed music in SUPER seems to offer little indication as to why it was chosen, and the structure is seemingly random. Sandwiching the pleasant “Nobody Knows You Anymore” (10) between the adequately invigorating “What it Was” (11) and a score track is mystifying and just goes to emphasize the lack of cohesiveness on display here. The SUPER soundtrack can be summarized as a media player on shuffle, such are the random choices on offer here.

Despite having being subject to a lot of criticism in recent years, TYLER BATES could generally be relied upon to write a sufficient, if uninspired score for the various films and games he has worked on. Collaborating with Zack Snyder has seen his reputation plummet in terms of originality, but still showed an ability to construct satisfying music, regardless of where he may have lifted parts. The SUPER soundtrack verges on an insult to anyone expecting something that resembles a film score. The blame should not be shouldered entirely by BATES, those in charge of assembling the soundtrack are clearly at fault too, but a composer writing for major motion pictures should surely hold himself to standards far higher than this.

Rating: 2/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Calling All Destroyers (Tsar) 3:22  **
2 Two Perfect Moments 2:07  ***
3 It Hurts Too Much (Eric Carmen) 4:16  **
4 I Do (Lo-deg Doliz) 3:07  *
5 The Prayer 1:29  *
6 If You Want My Love (Cheap Trick) 3:37  ***
7 God Knows My Name '11 (Money Brother) 2:03  **
8 Finger of God 2:25  *
9 Holy Avenger's Advice 0:44  *
10 Nobody Knows You Anymore (Terra Naomi) 4:07  ***
11 What It Was (Aceyalone) 2:33  ***
12 The Second Prayer 0:46  *
13 Born Under A Bad Sign (Moneybrother) 3:51  **
14 Let Your Body Decide (The Ark) 3:16  **
15 Libby Goes Down 5:08  *
16 Aftermath and Resolution 3:45  *
17 Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White (The Nomads) 2:33  *
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  


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