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Five bands that could have scored TRON: LEGACY besides Daft Punk

GATW Guest Writer

August 4th, 2010

There have been a number of interesting collaborations between musicians and the world of film in recent years, and some of them are certainly worth noting. For starters, shock rock king Marilyn Manson crafted the main theme to 2002's RESIDENT EVIL, a perfect music-to-movie match if there ever was one, even if it wasn't particularly memorable. The Nick Cave and Warren Ellis soundtracks for THE PROPOSITION and the Cormac McCarthy-inspired THE ROAD are much more noteworthy. But perhaps the strangest choice to score a major motion picture goes to Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood scoring THERE WILL BE BLOOD - a piece of work so staggering in its execution, that it was considered a strong favorite for Best Score at the 80th Academy Awards, until it was disqualified because of a designation within Rule 16 of the Academy's Special Rules for Movie Awards. Granted, this next film score hasn't even been heard yet at the time of this writing, but the pairing of director David Fincher and NIN frontman Trent Reznor in the upcoming SOCIAL NETWORK marks Reznor's first official foray into the world of film scoring, and it's high on the list of most anticipated soundtracks. The connection between Reznor and Fincher dates back to 1995, when Fincher famously used the remix to "Closer" in the title sequence in SE7EN; longtime NIN producer Atticus Ross - who scored THE BOOK OF ELI earlier this year - will also be involved.

Still, the one marriage of music to motion that all of us (well, geeks and uber-electronica fans anyway) are most excited for is the TRON: LEGACY score by Daft Punk. The neon world of enslaved programs and high speed lightcycles seems tailor-made for the robot motorcycle-helmeted French duo consisting of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. But what if Daft Punk wasn't available, or just wasn't particularly interested in taking the job when TRON: LEGACY came calling? Surely, there are some other bands that could have come through in a pinch?

After the jump, you'll find five bands that GATW thinks could probably have pulled off the gig (audio included).

1. Tangerine Dream

The song "Love On a Real Train" is forever linked (for better or for worse) to the star-making, Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay-featured, teen classic RISKY BUSINESS. If you don't know the song, you definitely know the scene it's featured in. The electric "sex on a train" sequence between Cruise and De Mornay probably would have been the most iconic scene from that film if it hadn't been for Bob Seger and tube socks. And for a coming-of-age comedy featuring Curtis Armstrong, a.k.a. Booger from REVENGE OF THE NERDS, the steamy transit tryst between the two actors (who wound up dating in real life) is actually pretty bold, and probably belongs in something more akin to CRIMES OF PASSION - the 1984 surreal erotic thriller helmed by Ken Russell (ALTERED STATES), starring a sensuous Kathleen Turner as the secret lover China Blue. And it's the dreamy synth of Tangerine Dream that makes it stand out. For a group that's been featured in dozens of films, from SORCERER to THREE O'CLOCK HIGH, "Love On a Real Train" is far from their best, but you can imagine the universe of Tron unfolding in front of you as you listen to this track.

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2. Vangelis

Perhaps the only composer besides John Williams capable of truly elevating a film from mediocre to downright moving at times (see the brilliant mess of Oliver Stone's ALEXANDER as proof), Vangelis could make TRON: LEGACY soar. The guy scored BLADE RUNNER, man! BLADE RUNNER!!! Excuse me, I'm calm now. Apologies. Now that I have regained my composure, I can tell you that Vangelis is a true pioneer - combining electronic music and orchestral instruments, with Tchaikovsky-esque piano pounding and film noir-inspired smoky saxophone. The tune I've chosen to reflect this is "Intergalactic Radio Station" - a song that fits so perfectly inside the motherboard sleekness of the Tronverse, that it single-handedly makes Vangelis the front runner for second choice, if in fact we did actually live in a parallel universe where Daft Punk were actually monumentally stupid enough to turn down scoring TRON: LEGACY. I dreamt music, and it sounded like this:

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3. Eon

Ian Loveday, a.k.a. Eon, sadly passed away last year, but he left a legacy as a true innovator in electronic music; so it seems appropriate that he could have potentially been behind-the-scenes and at the turntables when it came to producing the sequel to TRON. His debut, 1992's Void Dweller is a seminal work, combining hard-driving beats and multi-layered samples - some of which were taken straight from movies of the era. One such film used in not one, but count 'em two tracks on Void Dweller, was David Lynch's cult fave DUNE (although Lynch probably wants all copies to be swallowed up by sandworms at this point). Those tracks were "The Spice Must Flow" and "Fear the Mind Killer," and they're still totally awesome. I've included the former below, so get your glow sticks out and imagine what Eon could've done with today's technology and a few well-placed Kevin Flynn samples from the original.

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Everyone remembers "Pump Up The Volume," right? The one-hit wonder super group MARRS blasted off in 1987, landing a number one single in the UK and scoring a Grammy nomination. If TRON: LEGACY had wound up being an edgy G-rated (you know, like the original TRON almost was), animated adventure with the aesthetic of HEAVY METAL - instead of the live-action digital Olympics we'll be seeing in December - these guys would have been an interesting choice (to say the least) to provide the music. Who knows? If they wouldn't have disbanded so soon after "Pump Up The Volume" hit, music journalists might have been calling The Gorillaz the next MARRS.

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5. Justice

About time, right? If you've heard of Justice before (the French DJ duo had a hit with "D.A.N.C.E."), you already know they'd be perfect to score the sequel to TRON. I bet if Daft Punk had turned down scoring TRON: LEGACY, they would have given Joseph Kosinski (director of TRON: LEGACY) and Steven Lisberger (director of TRON and producer of TRON: LEGACY, respectfully) the phone number to reach Justice without even thinking twice. These guys have broken down dance music to the point where they've actually invented a new musical language. It almost feels like you're about to fall off the dance floor when their record starts playing, and the fragmented "stop and start" nature of their sound could have really suited some of the more tense action beats in TRON: LEGACY - the moments when you suddenly weren't really sure if Sam Flynn (played by Garrett Hedlund) was actually going to survive the Disc Wars or not. That being said, if I wanted MARRS to do a G-rated version of the movie, Justice would have to a really graphic, hard R. It'd be the only way to do it right. Especially considering that the track below, entitled "Phantom," is a twisted take on a song by Goblin from the classic Dario Argento horror movie TENEBRE. Enjoy.

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Bonus Band and Track - What would a Lords of Acid TRON:LEGACY score sound like?

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Who else do you think might have been a good choice to score TRON: LEGACY? Thanks for reading and listening, and as always, thanks for hanging with us at GATW.

Sources SoundtrackGeek, Variety, Oscars.com,lastFM, AllMusic

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  • http://twitter.com/isavedlatin89 Josh Brunsting

    Inspired, and perfect choice with JUSTICE. They are the only other duo I would ever want getting near the score of a Tron film. Great post! :D

  • Moogman

    MAARS? You’re kidding, right? Just get Wendy Carlos. Her work on Clockwork Orange, The Shining and the original Tron as one of the earliest pioneers of experimental electronica was inspirational to an entire generation of today’s techno and synth artists.

  • drewtinnin

    Thanks man. Try playing the original TRON on mute, with the Justice album playing… I would vote for Justice in the next sequel, then Vangelis to close the new Tron trilogy out…thx for reading.

  • http://www.teagivesmeglee.com TheJohnMulhern

    This is amazing. Fantastic thought put into it. So lucky to know a writer as amazing as yourself!

  • drewtinnin

    Thanks for taking the time to read it, sir. And that's a very nice compliment..appreciate it! Looooove this Vangelis song…

  • Ian

    how about infected mushroom? there are certain songs that would work perfectly in tron

  • https://gordonandthewhale.com JamesWallace

    Might I suggest…

    Kraftwerk as my #1 runner-up

    Rob Dougan for my #2. He provided this tasty track for THE MATRIX http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFS4zYWxzNA&feat…

    Then for #3 and #4 Underworld (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxeN56g2U3k&feat…) or another electronic duo Orbital (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV-hSgL1R74)

    And for #5 the unthought of choice of New Order…if they laid down some of their purely instrumental, more electronic-driven stuff like they've been known to do in the past

    PS: Fantastic editorial Drew! Seriously. Innovative. Well done.

  • drewtinnin

    I was definitely having some fun suggesting MARRS, but it can't be denied how groundbreaking that song was, especially in the world of sampling. Wendy Carlos is a great choice! Though about including her, but wanted to think outsid the box and thought she was a little to on nose. Thanks for reading.

  • drewtinnin

    Don't think I know them! Just looked the name up and they've been around for awhile. Thanks for the heads up. Heard of Amon Tobin? He couldve brought something unique to Tron; Dust Brothers and Mike Patton as well. I shouldve done the Top 20 bands!

  • drewtinnin

    All great choices. Underworld wouldve been kickass! Funny you mentioned New Order, since I thought about including Joy Division .

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  • http://oculartrauma.blogspot.com/ Bannister915

    A very nice list indeed and a fun read. I would add Michel Rubini. He did the score to Manhunter and The Hunger. I was thinking how funny it would be to have a Jan Hammer score for Tron. All the programs wearing Hawaiian shirts and linen pants. Tron: Miami!

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  • drewtinnin

    Nice choice! I would never have thought to add him. Craig Safan wouldve been interesting…love the Remo Williams and Last Starfighter scores. Tron:Miami could have lightboats!

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  • M4C4VITY

    These were all pretty surprising choices to me. My list would have included:

    Orbital – ex: technologicque park
    Juno Reactor – ex: Masters of the Universe (Eternal Basement Remix)
    Dreadzone – ex: Dream with in A Dream
    Massive Attack – ex: Angel or Dissolved Girl
    SAM – ex: Buzz Chamber – good disc fight music

    maybe something in there by Sebastian Komor or Ronan Harris from VNV Nation.

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