Karen O and crew get ‘Wild’ with soundtrack release
The wildly anticipated big screen rendition of Maurice Sendak’s childhood staple “Where the Wild Things Are,” will be putting audiences in awe on Oct. 16. Director Spike Jonze is pushing new boundaries with this film, bringing out a different side of childhood. He doesn’t hesitate to show the scariness and confusion of being a kid, the loss of innocence and finding it again.
The film soundtrack, produced by Jonze, embodies the same edgy darkness, as well as all the laughter, anticipation and sheer happiness that flows through a child. Jonze brilliantly chose Karen O, front woman for the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as the single composer of the entire album, alongside an amazing roster of some of today’s lead runners in music, and an untrained choir of children.
The list includes O’s band mates Brian Chase and Nick Zinner, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and The Dead Weather, along with Dead Weather bandmate Jack Lawrence, Greg Kursten of The Bird and the Bee, and Tristan Bechet of Services to name a few. O’s own band, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, just released their new album “It’s Blitz” this past year, making O one of the busiest women in the business.
In an interview with MTV UK, O said that she got involved in the film because of Jonze, saying “I guess there is a child-like innocence about my music or my persona that he always just kind of dialed into.”
But this soundtrack is definitely not just for kids, nor is the movie, which is what is most exciting about the film, it doesn’t target any age range, just human emotions.
The magic of the music that O creates with these kids in undeniable; from the first track to the last there is an underlying feeling of joy. The first release off the album, “All is Love,” is featured in many of the film’s trailers alongside an acoustic version of The Arcade Fire’s 2004 release “Wake Up.” “All is Love,” sung by O and the children, starts off like a sleepy dream and explodes into an adventure, with tiny voices shouting “all is love” and giggling throughout the song. “Where the Wild Things Are” is incredibly unique to any other soundtrack that has been released, by not only incorporating the voices of characters from the movie, but actually embodying the feelings within the film.
The opening track, “Igloo,” begins with dialogue from the movie, a characteristic that sporadically pops up throughout the soundtrack, leading the listener across the pages in their mind. The simplicity of this song, and many others in the album, mixing melodic guitar and children’s enthusiastic voices chirping and humming, is surprising coming from emotional rocker O, but the intensity of the music is not lost without the power chords. A rhythmic wonder, this soundtrack delivers many different sounds and energies, each track sounding better than the last.
“Capsize” is one of the best songs on the soundtrack, where O sings and claps a story about running away from home and never coming back, with amazing Yeah Yeah Yeahs style guitar riffs, and the eerie sound of children cooing in the background. If this sounds like a ridiculous, wild song, then O has done her job by creating a sound exactly like the book and film.
“Rumpus” is one of the album’s most spirited tracks, beginning with Max from the movie shouting the classic war-cry for all children “let the wild rumpus begin!” When listening to this song it is hard not to envision the classic images from the book, of Max and the ravenous wild things running and playing in the trees. Most of the tracks combine a mixture of shouting, clapping, stomping, throat whistling, and laughter- anything that inspires playfulness.
O’s scratchy, breathy voice is perfect in slower tracks, like “Worried Shoes” and “Hideaway,” probably named for the way a child sees the world around him.
“Food is Still Hot” is a beautiful humming song by the children, incorporating lazy harmonicas and acoustic guitar, reminiscent of the end of a typical childhood day when you’re tired and it’s time to go home to mom.
Karen O and Jonze illustrate a whimsical world for the wild things and Max with this album, reminding listeners of childhood, simplicity, and the joy of reading Sendak’s book, over and over again.
Hailey Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.