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Ghostbusters 2016 Score Album Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Jul. 31, 2016 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Music, The 2016 Parody Remake

I reviewed the 2016 movie soundtrack album the other day, so it's only fitting that my next review is of the 2016 movie score album, featuring music by composer Theodore Shapiro. As I stated in my other review, I am not a music critic, so apologies if I don't use musical terms correctly, or don't comment on things that a music critic would.

I'll start with the packaging since that's the first thing you'll see. The cover features a cool image of the new team in silhouette atop a skyscraper looking at an ominous spectral cloud with a ghastly face in it. The use of the green cloud is reminiscent of the original movie's poster art. If you look very carefully, you'll see that the ladies are standing on the curved edge of the building, and Patty (on the far right) is dangerously close to falling off. I guess the Ghostbusters aren't afraid of ghosts...or heights! I don't think this image has been used anywhere else, making it unique to the album. The back cover features a photo of the team inside the Mercado lobby (one we've seen many times before), with the track list, film credits block, and other stuff above and below it.

Art direction and design on the album was done by Jen Tindal, with booklet editing and design by "WLP Ltd." (White Label Productions). Jen and WLP must not have felt very committed to the project, because the whole design is very lazy and uninspired. Of course, I could just be spoiled by the amazing artwork used in the soundtrack album. The liner booklet consists of nothing more than a bunch of common movie photos, followed by three pages of credits in plain text against a plain red background. The photos are not put inside any clever frames or displayed in any sort of creative manner. They are simply printed in the most basic way possible. The back cover of the booklet is the photo of Erin reaching out to the ghost of Gertrude Eldridge, as you can see in the long image below showing all pages of the booklet. If you look really carefully, you can even read laziness in the text at the bottom of the second page (and also on the back cover): "Soundtrack album produced by Theodore Shapiro". It should say "score", not "soundtrack", as was printed about two inches higher up on the same page.


While the soundtrack album had artwork on the face of the disc, the score album's disc is as boring and generic as can be. It is, literally, plain white text against a plain black background. Under the disc is the new movie's metal-beveled variant of the beloved No Ghost logo.


My copies of both the soundtrack and score albums have an anti-theft security sticker placed on the rear paper artwork, instead of being affixed to the plastic case itself. This made it impossible to remove without damaging the artwork itself (see the left side of the logo in the scan above). I don't know if all copies of both albums were done like this. Maybe you'll get lucky and won't have this problem. Ironically, both albums were sent through the mail and not bought in a brick-and-mortar store, so there was no need for an anti-theft security sticker at all.


Okay, now that I've gone over the packaging, let's get to the real meat and potatoes: the music. I should probably let it be known that I have never heard of Theodore Shapiro before, though I'm sure I've heard his music without realizing it, so I'm basing my opinions solely on his work for Ghostbusters and nothing he has done previously. In fact, I am reviewing the score album strictly on its own merits, and not in relation to the movie itself. There are 21 tracks on the album, constituting 51 minutes and 27 seconds of music. The track list is as follows:

 1.  2:57  The Aldridge Mansion
 2.  1:29  The Garrett Attack
 3.  1:23  Never Invited
 4.  2:26  Distinct Human Form
 5.  2:22  The Universe Shall Bend
 6.  3:21  Subway Ghost Attack
 7.  0:59  Ghost Girl
 8.  2:12  Mannequins
 9.  0:50  Ghost In A Box
10.  3:21  Dr. Heiss
11.  3:47  Ley Lines
12.  2:48  Pester The Living
13.  2:16  I Will Lead Them All
14.  2:16  The Power of Patty Compels You
15.  3:32  The Fourth Cataclysm
16.  1:58  Balloon Parade
17.  3:20  Battle of Times Square
18.  2:31  Entering The Mercado
19.  3:43  Behemoth
20.  3:07  Into The Portal
21.  0:49  NY Heart GB

Unlike the soundtrack, I will not comment on each individual piece/cue. There is no point in doing that, as the same feelings and motifs are used throughout, so I would just be repeating the same words and phrases for each piece. Besides, the score should be taken as a whole, and not as individual pieces. Should you wish to sample the album while you're reading, a streaming playlist is embedded below.

Obviously, having seen the film, I know what actions certain parts of the music back up, but I'm going to focus on the music itself. Performed by a full orchestra, with a wide variety of musicians and vocalists, Shapiro's score has a very grandiose feel to it. It's appropriately spooky and atmospheric when it needs to be, and epic and urgent at other times. It's less whimsical than Elmer Bernstein's score for the original Ghostbusters, and doesn't have the lightheartedness of Randy Edelman's score for Ghostbusters II. With great use of a choir of vocalists, it has a very "apocalyptic" feel (think "O Fortuna"), and seems like it should back up a much better movie than the one it was written for.

Although the entire score is enjoyable, I found a few pieces to be particular standouts.

1. "The Aldridge Mansion" - A great start to the score, spooky and atmospheric, with a little bit of a Bernstein feel to it.

11. "Ley Lines" - I wasn't liking this much at first, but then about 3 minutes in, it becomes a hard rocking version of "Ghostbusters". I wish Shapiro would have done a whole instrumental cover of "Ghostbusters" like this.

15. "The Fourth Cataclysm" - A little mix of everything here. The apocalyptic grand choir, a snippet of "Ghostbusters", and a brief bit of spooky "Haunted Mansion"-like whimsy, before going full in with the choir again.

17. "Battle of Times Square" - Contains the most EPIC rendition of the "Ghostbusters" riff you will ever hear. Jump to 2:22 if you want to get right to the goods. Again, I wish Theodore Shapiro would have expanded that into a full version. That's why albums have "bonus tracks" :-)

The copyright credits indicate that Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" is incorporated into tracks 4, 9, 11, 15, 17, and 18, though I did not hear it at all in 9 and 18.

I was actually surprised by how little music there was. It seemed much shorter than the 51 minutes it actually was, which is less than half of the film's running time. Maybe that's why I didn't notice the music very much while I was watching the movie. There just wasn't much to notice. Also, I kept getting taken out of the movie by its constant stopping for jokes, which would have made it hard to enjoy the score in its proper context, anyway. So, I'm glad that I had this chance to enjoy the score in and of itself. A lot of the pieces do feel very similar to each other, but I chalk that up to Shapiro keeping the same feelings and motifs throughout.

Do note that the version of the Ghostbusters theme that was heard in the trailers is not here, nor was I expecting for it to be. As far as I know, it was not composed by Theodore Shapiro, and was created exclusively for the trailer. I do wish it were here, as it would have been a nice bonus track.

Overall, I liked this album as much as the scores for the original two Ghostbusters films. (Hey Sony, we still need Randy Edelman's "Ghostbusters II" score officially released...just sayin'.) You can buy it on Compact Disc or as digital MP3s (individual or as a full album download) at Amazon. I'm not really sure why you would want individual MP3s, as you really should absorb it as a whole, but the option is there if you only like certain pieces. Since the artwork is nothing to write home about, you could grab the MP3s and burn your own CD-R.

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