Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2015 July 20 • Monday

There have been several fun, big budget Hollywood summer movies this year, but none as satisfying as last year's Guardians of the Galaxy. The Tyler Bates score is the 380th Soundtrack of the Week.

Brian Tyler is the composer most associated with what is known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his scores are just right and quite enjoyable.

Bates has the same knack for propulsive action cues—and you generally need a lot of those for these movies—but, it seems to me, brings a stronger gift for melody and greater depth of feeling to his work on Guardians.

"To the Stars", for instance, is similar to Brian Tyler's Thor: The Dark World theme (which itself is very similar to Hans Zimmer's main title theme for The Contender) but has a delicacy and poignancy that Tyler eschews for a more direct and powerful approach.

But the music that everybody remembers from Guardians of the Galaxy isn't Bates's work but the collection of pop songs that Peter "Starlord" Quill listens to on his Walkman.

The tape is Awesome Mix Vol. 1 and it actually is pretty awesome

. Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" was featured in the preview and is memorably placed in the film itself.

"Escape (The Piña Colada Song) also has a spotlight moment in the movie. Other favorites of mine include The Raspberries' "Go All the Way"—and I actually got a Raspberries CD to see if they had any other songs that were as good, which they don't—and Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love".

And this is part of the reason why Marvel is so far ahead of DC in the movies. The Marvel movies have wit and fun and don't preach to the audience. Seeing a preview for the new Batman/Superman movie (which also has Wonder Woman in it somehow) before a screening of Ant-Man illustrated the contrast.

DC wants you to take everything very, very seriously, which is how we ended up with those absurd, leaden, bloated Christopher Nolan Batman movies. Marvel, on the other hand, is recreating a tradition of adventure movies, followng a trail that leads from Errol Flynn's Robin Hood through Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I suppose that when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars on something, it can be hard to remember to make it fun for people. But this has been a consistent feature of the Marvel superhero movies and undoubtedly a big part of their success. Let's hope they keep their cool.