- Composed by Ludwig Göransson
- WaterTower / 2015 / 59m
Few would have expected Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, to be the critical and commercial success it has been. Michael B. Jordan stars as Apollo Creed’s son Donnie, who enlists a reluctant and ailing Rocky as his trainer. It’s directed by Ryan Coogler, whose previous film, the dark and tragic Fruitvale Station also starred Jordan and received an exceptionally bleak score by Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson, so bleak it made for an almost unlistenable album. Göransson’s score for Creed starts in similar fashion in the opening “Juvy” but fortunately that proves to be very atypical, with the bulk of the score very much extending from Bill Conti’s sound world. The main theme does crop up in that opening cue – a delicate little piano line – and then gets explored throughout the score. It’s nice the way Göransson has written a melody that could easily have been by Conti and I like the way it’s flexible enough to be used in so many different ways (in “Conlan (Redemption)” it gets a full-bodied action arrangement that actually sounds like it could be from one of Jerry Goldsmith’s scores for the other long-running Sylvester Stallone series). The composer even gives it some “Gonna Fly Now”-style lyrics here and there (“fighting hard, climbing strong, fighting harder”) which are somewhat incongruous in a 2015 film score but of course a great link to what’s gone before.
You’d really better like the theme because it’s all over the place. The most crowd-pleasing moment will be “You’re a Creed”, which plays it off against the famous Conti theme in a big arrangement (and “that theme” is also heard elsewhere, along with Conti’s “Going the Distance”, often just hinted at). Elsewhere the music does have plenty of more tender moments, there’s urban grit with some contemporary r&b (I like the way the processed vocals are used) and it’s a well-rounded, solid score. My main complaint with the music is that it can become a bit repetitive – the main theme really is heard so often – and perhaps it could have been pared back a little more for the album. But a far bigger complaint is with the album, where some cues are ruined by the addition of dialogue, which is an unforgivable sin (is there a single person in the history of mankind who has appreciated dialogue being mixed into the music on any soundtrack album, ever?) – some pivotal cues (in particular “If I Fight, You Fight” and the concluding “Creed Suite”) are ruined. Sadly that alone costs the album a lot of credit, but there’s still plenty to admire and enjoy.