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YOU'VE GOT MAIL
Lovely little rom-com score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 1998 Warner Bros.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
An attempt to recreate the popular appeal of Sleepless in Seattle, Nora Ephron's You've Got Mail re-teamed Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and it satisfied the audiences of romantic comedies. It's a strange place to find one of the more influential scores of recent years, but there you have it - from the pen of George Fenton came a score which pretty much defined what romantic comedies would sound like ever since. Unlike many of its successors, this one actually had a score album for us film music fans to savour. For sure, it wasn't exactly groundbreaking, but Fenton took the easygoing charm of, say, Georges Delerue and gave it a distinctly Hollywood twinge, with his more piano-based approach proving to be wildly popular with film composers over the susbequent years.
It's very pleasant music, full of charm, could offend nobody, and avoids the saccharine excesses which tended to plague this sort of film beforehand. It opens with "Butterflies in the Subway", a simply delightful main theme, with gently rolling piano and small jazzy ensemble - one expects to hear Randy Newman burst into song at any moment (that, or the theme from Minder), but he doesn't - more's the pity. The piano dominates throughout, and it's a delight: Mike Lang's gently suggestive playing bringing out the best of Fenton's themes.
Fenton does a lovely little parody of Nino Rota's Godfather music in "To the Mattresses" - comedy music which is actually funny! He softly interpolates "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" into a couple of pieces, and a beautiful vocal performance of it from the incomparably Harry Nilsson closes the album. (There's another lovely Nilsson vocal in the middle - in his own song "Remember".)
For sure, this is fairly disposable, but it's right at the top of the league of romantic comedy scores, being so full of charm and just the right amount of wit. Recommended to all fans of Fenton, and all those who are romantics at heart.