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The Social Network by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

The Social Network

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The Social Network (Soundtrack) by Trent Reznor and Atticus  Ross
The Social Network (Soundtrack) by Trent Reznor and Atticus  Ross
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The Social Network (Soundtrack) by Trent Reznor and Atticus  Ross

The Social Network
Composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 5/10

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“REZNOR AND ROSS' score for THE SOCIAL NETWORK is more of a retro-like electronic trip; one that, at times, would seem a better fit into the world of TRON..., rather than a score for a dramatic, best-picture-buzz-worthy-film.”

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Review by Christopher Coleman

The story of Facebook, or rather the story of the man behind Facebook, certainly wasn't a tale that one might expect to be made into a feature film as early as 2010. The social site itself is only a few years old and there likely remains a lot of story left to be told about both it and it's founder, Mark Zuckerberg.  Made-for-tv not withstanding, a feature film about IT titans Steve Jobs or Bill Gates hasn't even been exploi...err made yet. Now, if a feature film of about one or both of these icons was to be done, I could see the likes of director David Fincher taking the reigns. Instead, Fincher chose to adapt the book, THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES (Ben Mezrich), which tells the tale of the young Mark Zuckerberg and the inception of the global phenomenon, Facebook. THE SOCIAL NETWORK provides us with a measure of insight into what took place in those formative years; deep within the academic bowels of the Harvard campus. Fincher's film paints Zuckerberg as a driven, yet slyly vindictive young man, who also happens to be brilliant. The drive to develop something that will truly set himself apart leads him down a digitally dark path; a path which also happens to lead to great financial gains and pains. As one might expect, THE SOCIAL NETWORK became one of the most talked about films on the internet.  No small part of that conversation has been the somewhat surprising inclusion of Nine Inch Nail leader, TRENT REZNOR, and composer ATTICUS ROSS' as creators of the film's original score.

Coming off of the languishing and melancholy score from THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, aptly provided by Alexander Desplat, it was initially no small surprise when it was announced that Reznor and Ross would be composing the film's score. Reznor's band, NINE INCH NAILS, was hardly known for being melancholy and ATTICUS ROSS' most recent effort THE BOOK OF ELI was anything but languishing. If nothing else, it was a clever bit of marketing to attach the name of "Trent Reznor" to the project,  but the most natural question to ask would be "What sort of original score were we in for?"

REZNOR AND ROSS' score for THE SOCIAL NETWORK is more of a retro-like electronic trip; one that, at times, would seem a better fit into the world of TRON (ah but that gig was of course taken), rather than a score for a dramatic, best-picture-buzz-worthy-film. The score has the merit of, in totality, not sounding or feeling like hardly any other score in recent memory, but when taken outside the film, has little listenability. Those who are already predisposed to the NINE INCH NAIL sound or who connect strongly with the film will likely disagree on this point; nevertheless, while it does add a very gritty and pensive texture to the film, it often plays more like rhythmic sound-design with the occasional melodic reference.

The first few measures tell us much about Reznor and Ross' take on this film. Immediately, we get an almost-offputting bit of grunge that would seem to beg the question "Why so serious?" But, of course, that's the wrong genre altogether. Layered over the jokery-note is THE SOCIAL NETWORK's main, and most identifying melody. This simple, 6-note idea injects the strongest bit of innocence and embraceable characteristic of the soundtrack. The juxtaposition is certainly an apt one; reflecting the central figures own duality and inner conflict. We hear this melody three times in the film and three times on the soundtrack. In addition to track 1, "Hand Covers Bruise", a variant of the simple piano melody is found in "It Catches Up with You" (4), but here it becomes a bit more distant and even antiquated. Finally, in "Hand Covers Bruise, Reprise" (16), we get the original melody one last time, but the piano has faded even further into the distance, being swallowed up within the countless wavelengths of synths and distorted squelches. The melody is short-lived, just as Zuckerberg's simplicity and innocence is swallowed up in the legal and relational turmoil he has created for himself.

Aside from these three tracks, which truly tie the soundtrack together, there is a plethora of musical styles which range from minimalist drum and bass to dance to shapeless sound design. While "In Motion" (2) will appeal to one's "clubbin' side," tracks such as "3:14 Every Night" (7) will pull your psyche down into the depths with its clicks, drips and it's horrific swells of strings. Dotting and dashing their way throughout the score is an interesting 8-bit synth element. While their inclusion seems a bit out of place, it does help to bring some measure of lightness.

The blend of these divergent styles is somewhat interesting, but it is definitely distracting, especially on the soundtrack. That said, easily the greatest guffah of the soundtrack is REZNOR AND ROSS' treatment of the recognizable "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (12). This piece plays over the rowing race scene and sticks out like the sorest of thumbs. At the behest of Fincher, the duo took this classic piece and was told to "Wendy Carlos" it up. After taking that directive too literal, resulting in something that's even worse than the final, the two delivered a piece that I can find no rationale for.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK has had no shortage of award-buzz on the internet and rightfully so. David Fincher has crafted another character driven drama, featuring some award worthy performances. Whether the performance of TRENT REZNOR and ATTICUS ROSS are equally worthy is debatable. I have to concede that the use of the score within the context of the film worked well enough as to not call attention to itself (aside from the aforementioned track 12), but just how much did it enhance the story remains difficult to quantify in my mind. Involving Reznor and Ross was certainly a bold move by Fincher; full of soundtrack marketing goodness, but I'm not convinced that the emotional impact of the film was maximized in it's score. If you already appreciate the work of Reznor and Ross (and or the film) you'll likely  latch onto this soundtrack. Likewise, those looking for a unique listening experience might find THE SOCIAL NETWORK appealing, but those in search of a more traditional, dramatic score may have a hard time clicking the "Like" button.

Rating: 5/10




Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Hand Covers Bruise 4:18  ***
2 In Motion 4:56  ***
3 A Familiar Taste 3:35  **
4 It Catches Up With You 1:39  ***
5 Intriguing Possibilities 4:24  ***
6 Painted Sun In Abstract 3:29  ***
7 3:14 Every Night 4:03  *
8 Pieces Form the Whole 4:16  **
9 Carbon Prevails 3:53  **
10 Eventually We Find Our Way 4:17  **
11 Penetration 1:14  ***
12 In the Hall of the Mountain King 2:21  *
13 On We March 4:14  ***
14 Magnetic 2:10  **
15 Almost Home 3:33  **
16 Hand Covers Bruise, Reprise 1:52  **
17 Complication with Optimistic Outcome 3:19  ***
18 The Gentle Hum of Anxiety 3:53  **
19 Soft Trees Break the Fall 4:44  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  


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