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You may – or may not – have noticed that posts here have become a lot less frequent of late. There are numerous reasons for this, ranging from a general shrinking in my enthusiasm for new film music through to a continued loss of enthusiasm for writing about it following last year’s rather less-than-warm feedback provided very publicly by the world’s most famous film composer.

For several years though, I’ve been grappling with something else – a struggle to see the point of writing traditional reviews of soundtrack albums in an era when anyone can essentially listen to any of them, on demand, at any time. I started writing about film music over a quarter of a century ago and it was fairly clear at that time what the point of it was – to give someone an informed description and opinion of a commercial product (an album) to assist them in deciding whether or not to buy it. That seems so quaint now – not just that I genuinely thought I was providing a service, but that such a service could be required. Clearly, in 2022 it isn’t, and hasn’t been for some time.

So I was wondering whether to stop – and indeed, my plan for a while was to quietly slip away – but I do actually enjoy writing about film music. So I wondered if there was some way of writing about it that may actually still be relevant – saying such-and-such a theme plays in this track and that track, here’s a lilting guitar solo – there’s no point in doing that any more, and that’s formed the basis for much of what I’ve been doing for 25+ years.

Why do I like film music? I think it’s because of the emotional and dramatic journey it can take me on, when it’s done well. I have no interest in it as some kind of musical souvenir of a film I like – I realise that lots of people do like it for that reason, and that’s fine – but I am always astonished when someone will notice that a clarinet overlay they heard in a cue in the film is missing from the album, or when a label will indiscriminately shove a piece of source music in the middle of the score in order to perfectly preserve the musical chronology of the film, listening experience be damned. But perhaps there is still some value in writing down what it is I like (or don’t like – I’ll come to that) about an album. Unless by accident, it’s unlikely that I’ll find some profound insight, since reaction to music is such a personal thing – and Lord knows, I’ve not found any profound insight in my first 3,000 reviews – but hey, someone somewhere might be interested in reading it.

A loyal Movie Wave reader pictured before and after reading this post – look at the transformation

I’m going to give a go to writing in a somewhat more freeform way – no more opening paragraph about the film, followed by a paragraph about the composer and perhaps his or her past relationship with the director. Something a bit more “blog”, I guess. And I am absolutely not going to keep putting movie titles in bold type. I started doing that in 1996 for some reason and then kept doing it. No more! Maybe (if I can work out a way of making WordPress still display separate covers across the top of the page) sometimes I’ll combine shorter reviews of several different albums into one post. Maybe I won’t work out a way of doing that. Who knows? Let’s give it a go and see if it works. I’d rather do that than just let the website die. Expect it to be largely stuff I like – if there’s one thing I want to avoid, it’s any more social media spats with a certain someone. I still come out in a cold sweat when I recall the last one.

And not to put too fine a point on it, I accidentally let my hosting package auto-renew for three years when I was offline in 2021 following that spat, and since it’s very expensive, I may as well try to find a way of using it, so you’re probably stuck with me until 2024 at least.

Thanks for reading.

Your friend,

[name redacted]

  1. Victor Field (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 16:09

    Suits me!

  2. Michael (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 16:30

    I used to read your reviews to, as you stated, determine if a score was worth purchasing. But in recent years, I’ve been reading your reviews more to see if investing in listening to a score was even worth my time. I wonder if there’s a way to approach your reviews from that perspective. Maybe it’s not about pointing out the best cues or even highlights, but the overall experience and enjoyment one will or won’t get by listening to a score from beginning to end. I don’t know, just a thought. I do enjoy reading your informed opinions of film score music.

  3. Stephen Ottley (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 16:58

    I’m trying to think who the world’s most famous film composer is. John Barry? Ennio Morricone? Jerry Goldsmith? James Horner? You can’t have had any disagreement with any of these brilliant composers because they are all deceased. Vaughan Williams, perhaps? No, same problem. John Williams? He’s alive at least but I think he’s too much of a gentleman to get involved in anything like that. I’m really stuck, sorry. Who on earth is more famous and more talented than these people? No, I give up, but I certainly don’t want you to give up. I read your reviews with great interest. Even though I don’t always agree with your opinion I certainly respect your right to hold it. Don’t allow some arrogant twerp to decide how you should live your life.

  4. DKoren (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 17:44

    I agree with what Michael wrote – that is also what I do when coming here, both to discover new music I missed (considering I don’t go to the theater nearly as much these days), and whether it’s worth looking into a score. I own quite a few scores solely from reading your reviews here, so I, for one, really appreciated all the work you put in. However, I also love the sound of a less formal new format. Looking forward to whatever you write pertaining to film scores/film composers. I hope you find a new path that fulfills you! I’ll be here still reading. 😀

  5. Gabriel Bezerra (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 18:33

    I got to this website by pure chance, and what I’ve found is someone truly passionate. So I’ve read your reviews ever since, just for that passionate writing, sometimes I’m listening to an old album and I come here to see if you have talk about it, even if we disagree I’m happy I read it, it’s the closest thing I have to talk about scores with someone .
    So I’m really happy you found a way to continue to write, I do feel the transformation.

  6. Amit Rubinstein (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 20:15

    Do whatever you think is right, but please don’t let this site die. I’ve already said before that reading your reviews often gave me more pleasure than listening to the scores they’re covering. I suggest you give less fucks about how your reviews are perceived among industry people and certain composers – they are not your target audience and their position on this issue is unimportant and irrelevant. Remember that there’s a large and loyal audience that’s been following your writing over the years and derives great pleasure and value from it. Please don’t pull a Tom Daish and disappear on us.

  7. Jim (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 21:19

    All i can say is i hope you stick around, even in some limited capacity as i often feel like your views give voice to my ability to feel there is someone else out there who enjoys movie music the same way i do. All the best

  8. Eric (Reply) on Saturday 3 September, 2022 at 22:16

    I’m somewhat new to the website, just found it last year. I wrote for rock and progressive rock websites as well as couple magazines for many years and I know at times it can be a thankless task, especially when an artist, musician or fans disagree with you. I hope you will continue with the website. You clearly know your stuff and to see the writing fade away would be a shame.

  9. Stefan Rogall (Reply) on Sunday 4 September, 2022 at 09:13

    Please do continue, in any way you want.

    I always came and come to your site to read about new and old scores, compare your always insightful and amusingly written opinions with mine, and often learned new things about the scores I either enjoyed or did not.

    I am 53 now, and after starting out as a score collector back when there were only the odd LPs I have amassed a wealth of music – and surprise, I have been paring down my collection considerably because I noticed I do not enjoy listening to much of it. This applies to scores of the recent years and of movies in the past.

    So I sympathize with your state of mind. Maybe it’s just a been there done that feeling, maybe it’s just a maturing, the stage at which one decides what one really wants and needs.

    In any event, I am looking forward to visiting this site again and reading what you have come up with.

    Best regards,


  10. Marco Ludema (Reply) on Sunday 4 September, 2022 at 11:19

    Very curious what this new style will do for you (here’s hoping it’ll be good). All the best wishes, man.

  11. David Hand (Reply) on Monday 5 September, 2022 at 07:06

    Good morning from the U.K.
    I have always enjoyed your reviews and found them very interesting. The depths you sometimes go into shows your enthusiasm to ensure we are fully informed of what the score is about and over the years, I have saved many in my soundtracks folder.
    I always look forward to to these reviews and over the years after your recommendations and listening to the music, I have added many recordings to my over 700 film music soundtracks.
    Kind regards
    David Hand

  12. Alexander (Reply) on Monday 5 September, 2022 at 07:27

    This seems like an opportunity so say a huge THANK YOU for this wonderful site. I come here whenever I’ve got time and a review notification pops up in my mail. It’s like a little surprise: You know something’s there and you’re excited to find out what it is. It brightens my days even when there’s a lot of work to do or people around me are difficult. Bottom line: It means a lot!

  13. Tobias (Reply) on Tuesday 6 September, 2022 at 19:42

    While it’s true that new music is readily available for anyone interested due to digital releases, I don’t think that means your reviews aren’t important anymore. I don’t have hours and hours to listen to stuff I probably don’t care about. In fact, if I listen to two new releases in a week it’s a lot.
    So I’m very grateful that your reviews give me a chance to filter music I may actually like. (And on a sidenote, the reviews on music you don’t like are usually a great read.)
    So thanks for your hard work on I’m looking forward to reading your texts for the next 25 years.

  14. Kevin (Reply) on Wednesday 7 September, 2022 at 03:27

    I’m glad you’re back and sticking around. Besides Jon Broxton at MMUK, no one else is devoting the time and space to film music that it deserves but you and I happen to enjoy what you write, even for scores that don’t interest me.

    Also, whatever you do, PLEASE continue the James Horner Odyssey. He’s my favorite composer and I enjoyed your reviews of his work.

  15. Andre>>Cape Town (Reply) on Saturday 10 September, 2022 at 16:20

    My suggested some time back, James, that you should consider selecting some of your favourite scores, and some of your most controversial critiques, and transfer to book format. My favourite scores belong to the 1960s through to the early 2000 era—I imported hundreds of scores a year, and have a collection of vinyl LPs and CDs totalling thousands. But with the passing of the greats, Goldsmith…Horner…Bernstein…Morricone…Delerue…Jarre…Poledouris (pleased that Christopher Young is still working), their successors just don’t excite me anymore….and I have not imported a contemporary score in ages.The expanded releases of my favourite composers,naturally, still interests me, as would a book written by you….Please consider.

  16. David (Reply) on Tuesday 20 September, 2022 at 20:49

    Hi James, I’ve been reading your reviews for years. Never commented before; but I wanted to say how much I appreciate and respect your writings. I’ve always loved film scores, and I always look forward to hearing your takes. Whether I agree with them or not, your musical knowledge is apparent, and it helps me to discover new things to appreciate that I may have overlooked before – certain motifs, or interesting orchestrations. (And you’re darn right that most of JXL’s scores are subpar lol. I don’t care what his buddies say.)

    Keep it up, James. We’re rooting for you.

  17. Jason A (Reply) on Friday 23 September, 2022 at 09:32

    There may be a lot movie scores available on streaming services these days (many are still not). But that just makes it more important to discern which ones are worth listening to. Time is even more valuable these days.

    Listening to movie scores has helped me stay sane and in good spirits during the days when leaving home was not allowed or not safe. I’ve gotten most of my recommendations for purchases and online listening from your reviews. Your writing has helped me appreciate the nuances of the music and the objectives and flourishes of the composers. I enjoyed listening all the more because of your reviews. I thank you for that.

    Please keep writing on about movie scores!