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John Powell's FERDINAND (2017)


Jay
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Dude, Ferdinand is already one of my favorite Powell scores and I'm baffled how little attention it's getting even among the few Powell fans (though people at least like it enough, I guess).

This post is amazing and cathartic to read.

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Ferdinand is great!

There's even more music available on the FYC album, too!

 

Welcome back Stu! :wave:

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On this matter, I agree with @Disco Stu.

 

Powell certainly can impress from time to time.

His serious approach here reminds me of Horner.  The orchestrations, though, so clear and balanced.  Like fresh air penetrating the contemporary smog. 

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4 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

I have listened to this soundtrack at least twice a week over the past 4 months

 

So that's what you've been doing all this time you've been away...

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There's something about this score that feels so dignified and refined, moreso than usual for Powell antics. 

I actually didn't mind the movie. It's a very nicely animated, cute and harmless kids movie with its heart in the right place. Refreshingly deprived of cynicism. At the very least, I'd say it's one of the better Blue Sky things. 

Though I'm someone who used to live with roommates whose kids would watch things like Hoodwinked, Johnny Test, CGI Smurfs or Everyone's Hero. Ferdinand's practically a classic compared to what I've sat through during babysitting sessions. 

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1 minute ago, kaseykockroach said:

There's something about this score that feels so dignified and refined, moreso than usual for Powell antics. 

I actually didn't mind the movie. It's a very nicely animated, cute and harmless kids movie with its heart in the right place. Refreshingly deprived of cynicism. At the very least, I'd say it's one of the better Blue Sky things. 

Though I'm someone who used to live with roommates whose kids would watch things like Hoodwinked, Johnny Test, CGI Smurfs or Everyone's Hero. Ferdinand's practically a classic compared to what I've sat through during babysitting sessions. 

Your roommates had kids?  That sounds like a living nightmare!

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Two kids. And three dogs. Four cats. Left food out at night for ants and cockroaches to pick on in the morning.

 

But this story has a happy ending. :P I no longer live there. I now instead live with my grandpa who complains about every other film score I put on in the background. 

 

 

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Thanks everybody.  It really is a special piece of music.

 

I'm listening to the OST again this morning, and just had my mind blown listening to the track "Bull Olympics."  The track is mostly an extended workout for the theme that I call the "Spain Theme," but mostly because I don't know what to call it!

 

"Spain Theme" has an A and a B section.  The A section starts at 0:24, B at 0:34:

0:24 - 0:46

 

 

ANYWAY, listening to "Bull Olympics" there's a teensy quote of the Pacifist Theme I wrote about earlier that I never noticed till this morning.

 

At 0:54, there's like a three second quick quote of it unless I've just listened to the score so much my ears are playing tricks on me.  The setting is so different from how the theme is usually presented, I just never made the connection before.  Especially because it immediately transitions into the A section of the Spain Theme.

 

 

Either way, like I said before, it's part of what makes this OST so rewarding to delve into.  Powell plays with the themes constantly, especially the one I'm calling either the Family Theme or Ferdinand's Theme (it's the very first thing played on the first track).  But I don't have time to keep going into this right now.

 

 

 

23 hours ago, Not Mr. Big said:

It really is an underrated score.  The best Latin American 3D score of 2018 by a wide margin (Coco sucks).  

 

I feel obliged to point out that Spain is not in Latin America, but I understand what you're saying.  And I agree.

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I find a lot of Powell scores to be similarly rewarding to revisit for that reason, but Ferdinand is definitely particularly compelling in that aspect. 

As for Coco, I recall seeing the film and realizing in disappointment upon finishing that I didn't hear a single note of score. Giacchino wasn't asked to tell a story, he was asked to put some music on top as background noise. Whereas even the lesser Powell scores for animation are solid enough stories told through music. Sort of like Horner's animated film music, but more passionate.

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2 hours ago, Loert said:

@Disco Stu In anticipation of your upcoming analysis I am sure that you've noticed the way in which Powell transforms the "Spain theme" into the major key at the end of "Madrid Finale".

 

 

You mean the gorgeous rendition on cello at 10:34?  It's so good.

 

Man, you're raising the bar high for me!  I'm not sure I'm music theory literate enough to analyze to that level of detail.  I was really just planning on doing a theme guide presenting what the themes are and how/where they're used.  Mostly to show how densely packed the score is with just a few melodic ideas that he uses in such inventive ways that you often don't even realize that you're hearing the same few melodies over and over.

 

But mostly I'm just so excited to have sparked a conversation about Ferdinand, which I thought was getting criminally un-discussed or even unfairly dismissed by the enthusiast community.

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I'm really meek about trying to discuss music itself, as I've long found it difficult to articulate why certain scores resonate with my ears. They just do. I'm not educated or particularly bright, so I've long assumed I only love Powell's music so much simply because I'm an idiot with poor taste and someday I'll wise up and listen to "real music".

Being assured here that it's okay if Madrid Finale moves me to tears is comforting and cathartic. 

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1 hour ago, kaseykockroach said:

I'm really meek about trying to discuss music itself, as I've long found it difficult to articulate why certain scores resonate with my ears. They just do. I'm not educated or particularly bright, so I've long assumed I only love Powell's music so much simply because I'm an idiot with poor taste and someday I'll wise up and listen to "real music".

Being assured here that it's okay if Madrid Finale moves me to tears is comforting and cathartic. 

Reminds me of this post I saw on filmtracks a while back:

 

Quote

"Honestly, I cannot explain why I like the scores that I do... I have difficulty with that. I feel clumsy, like a caveman asking out a girl: "Me think this score pretty. Me like it." There is enjoyment, there is a measure of appreciation, but there is no lucid expression of why that is so."

 

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I remember following the scoring sessions bits posted by Powel on facebook. It was mostly flower theme. It's just sooo good.

 

 

@Loert Thanks for this great analysis !
I can say I'm pretty good at spoting theses differences but I'm unfortunately unable to put words on it so thank you :)

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On 22.4.2018 at 6:12 PM, kaseykockroach said:

I find a lot of Powell scores to be similarly rewarding to revisit for that reason, but Ferdinand is definitely particularly compelling in that aspect. 

As for Coco, I recall seeing the film and realizing in disappointment upon finishing that I didn't hear a single note of score. Giacchino wasn't asked to tell a story, he was asked to put some music on top as background noise. Whereas even the lesser Powell scores for animation are solid enough stories told through music. Sort of like Horner's animated film music, but more passionate.

That's what I thought, when I watched Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. "Man, couldn't they at least give these eerie eye eating dude's a theme or a motif? Nothing! Themes and motifs support the storytelling, did you know?:angry:"

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It's also a wasted oppurtunity that Coco's songs and score have no thematic connection (as far as I could tell).

Compare that to the "Real in Rio" song being the main theme in Powell's score, in terms of him scoring musicals.

Though in fairness, Coco has a lot more cooks in its kitchen than Ferdinand.

 

 

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 years later...
On 12/20/2017 at 8:37 PM, publicist said:

That score is awfully hard to get a grasp on. Some moments are pure modern overwroughtness and in between are wonderfully comfy, delicate Berlioz-ian arrangements and somehow there must be an ideal reduction of both to a nice little album but i'm not there yet.

 

Just my thoughts as well. I just bought this for about £5, which seems like a reasonable price.

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  • 7 months later...

I just finished re-reading this thread.  Apparently I really liked this score when it came out!  For whatever reason though it never entered my frequent rotation.  This week when I finally took the shrinkwrap off my physical edition that LLL released and listened to it over two work commutes, I felt like I was listening to a brand new score!  I probably had not heard it in over 3 years, and had forgotten much about it.


I am sad to report I was not wowwed by the score!  Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood, maybe because I've never seen the film I have no clue what any of the music represents... who knows, but this listen didn't make an impact.  I'll try to give it another listen with a fresh mind sometime soon.

 

The booklet for the LLL edition is really nice!  Artwork by Dan Goldwasser, and you can view most of it here:

 

https://www.warmbutter.com/albums/ferdinand/

 

I learned from the booklet that Batu Sener, Anthony Willis, AND Paul Mounsey all contributed additional music to this score!  I wonder if that was known before? The digital edition surely doesn't say.  Also Powell conducted this score himself, which is rare for him (and had been pointed out earlier in this thread as well).  Also, it's a Shawn Murphy recording!  I somehow hadn't realized that he ever worked with Powell.

 

There's a wonderful quote from Powell inside the booklet.

 

"

It gave me great joy to write the music for Ferdinand...

Apart from the utter delight of finally workign on a pacifist-themed Hollywood film, it touched so many places in my heart...

The fickle bee of fate, the madness of tradition, the flowers of love, and the acceptance of the fragility of life...

All this and fart gags for the kids, too. :)

-JP

"

 

ferdinand-booklet-02-03.jpg

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I was not a huge fan of Ferdinand myself (film or album).  Seemed pretty serviceable, but not something I’d throw on out of any significant desire for the score.  Probably bottom tier when it comes to animated Powell scores - and there are some real good ones.

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And I still think it's Powell's greatest work.... 

 

13 minutes ago, Jay said:

I learned from the booklet that Batu Sener, Anthony Willis, AND Paul Mousnsey all contributed additional music to this score!  I wonder if that was known before? The digital edition surely doesn't say.

 

Yes, I got the LLL physical CD back when it first came out (and didn't leave it in the shrink wrap!).  I seem to remember Batu putting one of the cues he did on his soundcloud.  It was a short cue right after the masterful "Flower Festival" that wasn't included on the OST (although I think it was on the FYC).  The bull in the china shop cue.

 

 

I mean.... for real.  This is jaw-dropping.  My favorite cue Powell's ever done.  No one does animation better this century.

 

On 24/04/2018 at 7:02 AM, Disco Stu said:

FERDINAND

 

Flower Festival (John Powell)

 

Just a few edit points and one tiny bit of percussion loop I had to extend very clumsily, but nothing that detracts from the listening experience.

 

This cue was pretty terribly mixed at a low volume for a lot of the sequence, especially the more action-oriented part.  So in presenting Powell's intentions more clearly communicated, I hope I'm righting a great wrong for one of the best film score cues of the decade.

 

 

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Glad you like the score so much, Stu!

 

Watching the video, I'm not really hearing what could make it one of the best cues of the entire 2010s.  We got so many great cues throughout that decade but I don't hear what aspects of this composition would cause it to be ranked so highly.  The action part in particular isn't as wow-inducing for me as his Solo action music

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And my great confession is that I've never loved Solo as much as others on the board, even the other big Powell fans.  Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic work, but it's not one that stays in my rotation.

 

That cue and the whole Ferdinand score just make feel so happy.

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