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  • Composed by Marc Shaiman
  • La-La Land LLLCD 1126 / 2010 / 46:33

The liner notes to this album begin with Randall Larson talking about how difficult it is to compose music for romantic comedies.  I’m not sure I’d entirely agree with him there (it must surely be one of the easier genres) but would say that composing interesting music for romantic comedies certainly is difficult – I can’t think of a long list of bad romantic comedy scores, but from the great number I’ve heard, there aren’t that many which are interesting enough to make me want to return very often.  One composer who’s more than capable of composing interesting music in this genre is Marc Shaiman.  Since the incredible success of his (wonderful) Hairspray musical, Shaiman has barely worked in film, which is a pity – film music needs someone with his wit and the warm glow he can bring to a film through his music.

Speechless is from 1994 and was about two political speechwriters from opposing sides (played by Michael Keaton and Geena Davis) who – well, have a guess.  Shaiman’s music is quite delightful.  Most romantic comedies these days (at least the ones which get any original score at all) rely heavily on piano and guitars for their lilting sounds, but Shaiman makes use of a full orchestra throughout; his score relies heavily on its vaguely John Williams-like main theme (Williams in Home Alone mode, that is) which is certainly full-bodied but certainly not overbearing.  A couple of slightly lighter themes (occasionally with a hint of jazz) and some underscore which sounds surprisingly similar to the kind of music which would later underscore The West Wing.  It’s all warm, it’s all lovely, it’s all Marc Shaiman through and through.   ***

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  1. christopher (Reply) on Wednesday 23 June, 2010 at 19:34

    So if there aren’t that many romcom scores that make you want to return very often, that must mean there are a few. Which ones have you enjoyed the most, James?

    For me, the best romantic comedy score I’ve heard is Armstrong’s score to Love, Actually.