How the ‘Joker’ Soundtrack Complements the Film’s Vicious Vision

/Film | 10/15/2019 | Jason Gorber
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In less than a week, Joker has amassed a fortune despite a decidedly mixed critical reception. The film took the top prize at Venice, but a large number of critics (primarily American) have excoriated the film as being inappropriate if not downright dangerous, with many other commentators spilling buckets of ink on the topic before they even screened the film.

Given the film’s obvious debts to the works of Scorsese (The King of Comedy above all, with a dash of everything from Goodfellas to Bringing Out The Dead thrown in for good measure), it’s no surprise that the film is littered with needle drops that include show tunes, cabaret numbers, stadium hits, and excerpts from film scores. The evocative musical themes by composer Hildur Guðnadóttir are particularly effective in setting the mood, but there are dozens of other musical pieces used to tell the tale of Arthur Fleck.

Tracks - Joker - Soundtrack - Background - Songs

Here are the tracks from Joker’s soundtrack, as well as some background on how these songs gained fame, how they work in the film and some surprising connections outside the narrative that shape how we hear these pieces in the context of Todd Phillips’ film.

Originally released in 1909, Henry Lodge’s jaunty piano number was a big hit, playing for years on the vaudeville circuit and leading to several other major compositions of the era. French Jazz pianist Claude Bolling had a major career as a jazz prodigy, gigging with major icons like Lionel Hampton and Kenny Clark when he was in his teens. In 1966, Bolling covered Lodge’s tune on Decca Records.

Cue - Joker - Composer - Guðnadóttir - Jóhann

This cue was written by Joker’s composer Guðnadóttir along with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson for the Mary Magdalene soundtrack. It was one of two scores released posthumously after Jóhannsson’s accidental overdose, and the quiet, haunting string line is evocative of many of his...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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