HIDDEN FIGURES BY HANS ZIMMER, PHARRELL WILLIAMS & BENJAMIN WALLFISCH – SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

HIDDENFIGURESOST

“This started off with all of us piling into a room and playing together. I had this idea: How do these women think differently about mathematics? They dance about math. The rhythm shouldn’t be straight, it should swing a little. It really was the three of us. People don’t understand that we really do work well as musicians in bands.
Hans Zimmer

Initially this was a problem for me, I don’t really like it when two composers work on a soundtrack let alone three. Call me a purist but I have heard a few collaborations on scores and they always come across as uneven. So I put some work in and read about how they they put it all together. Williams is one the films producers who was working on some songs with a 60’s vibe, Zimmer said that he would have “the right playbook”. And of course Wallfisch had previously contributed music to Zimmer’s ‘Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice’ score. It still didn’t sell the idea to me but I settled sown to listen to the score.

Hidden Figures is the story [not well known before the movie] of African American women working at NASA in the early 60″s.  It opens with Katherine, a plaintive piano that is overtaken by a female voice which accompanies it well. Mission Control gives us the first rush of a ‘spacey’ sound – a short pulse with a driving under bass. This returns in the start of Space Task Group, the piano returns and the low tones telling of the continued failures of the group. Plucked strings and a short base line gives a comedic nuance to Slice of Pie.

Redacted is a joy of a cue with those plucky strings re-apearring and then at 1:01 a bass and a muted trumpet make a delicious sound [I love this cue!] Redstone is another strong cue where  ‘babbling’ voices gives a sense of a puzzled mind working at 100 miles an hour, it’s a clever twist. The babble is reprised in the tense cue Launch. Rocket Peril is not short of a small symphony which soars.

All the rich elements which make this soundtrack follow through in cue after cue, giving the soundtrack a richness of texture. It’s a soundtrack I will return to. To say it has a feel-good factor does not cheapen the overall score, it strives and lifts. I heard the signatures of all three composers albeit that Williams touch only came to my mind a couple of times. Has it changed my mind about collaborations? Well, I will admit that as much as I really enjoyed this score I think I remain cautious.

TRACK LIST

1. Katherine 2:37
2. Mission Control 1:17
3. I’d Already Be One 1:08
4. Space Task Group 2:56
5. Slice Of Pie 1:05
6. Redacted 1:26
7. With All The Angels 1:35
8. Redstone 1:36
9. Call Your Wives 3:23
10. Launch 2:21
11. That’s Just The Way Things Are 2:25
12. Sign 1:11
13. Kitchen Kiss 0:55
14. Mary And The Judge 1:30
15. I Like Her Numbers 2:07
16. Ladies’ March 1:25
17. Mary And Levi 2:12
18. Euler’s Method 1:23
19. Proposal 1:40
20. Pearls 2:41
21. Katherine Calculates 1:32
22. Lift Off 3:11
23. Warning Light 0:59
24. Rocket Peril 3:10
25. Hidden Figures 3:50
26. Epilogue 0:38
Total Album Time: 50:13

Columbia Label

Note that there is also Hidden Figures The Album featuring songs used in the film together with songs composed by Pharrell Williams, also on the Columbia label.

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