Western and World Music: ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Soundtrack Review

Read our review of The Good Dinosaur soundtrack – it’s packed full of worldly sounds and western cues.
The Good Dinosaur soundtrack

The Good Dinosaur soundtrack, composed by Michael Danna and Jeff Danna is now available and we think you’ll be surprised with what you hear. This is Pixar’s first western-inspired film and the score definitely mirrors that feeling during moments of levity, but as the film shifts to heavier moments the score also adjusts — almost sounding more like a traditional live-action film score at times.

As we continue to discuss the score, please read on carefully as titles will give away spoilers for the film.

Tracks like Chores embody the western spirit with a perfect animation flare — you feel like you’re waiting in line for Splash Mountain (Disney World/Land) in Frontierland with eager anticipation. We tended to gravitate towards the more traditional film score tracks like Fireflies or You’re Me and More for their emotional gravitas and sweeping moments of strings. Fireflies is the first track that incorporates Michael Danna’s signature “world music” sound and we feel it blends perfectly at this moment.

Other tracks which bring Danna’s signature to the forefront are, Swimming Lessons and Pet Collector which blend elements of Asian, Indian, and Australian flare along with toy pianos and cinematic swells.

Arlo’s theme (reoccurring through the score) is a beautiful, soft, airy flute (watch a clip of this moment being scored at 3:30 in our video above) which weaves in and out of poignant Celtic fiddle — but due to the fiddle, you can’t help but sense Brave’s score during these moments. 

Another pair of personal favorites on the score is Sky Sharks and Arlo’s VisionSky Sharks is a real suspense track that borders on a horror film score and is absolutely one of our favorites for its build and intensity — this will definitely make for a tense movie moment.

The Good Dinosaur Scoring Session

As much as the Danna Brothers’ diverse instrumentation is successful, there are also moments that stand out like the inclusion of a brazen saxophone on Run With The Herd which we found slightly distracting. It should be noted that these moments are rare and we appreciate the choices and risks taken. On the flip side, songs like Goodbye Spot perfectly meld piano, horns, and strings to almost certainly produce tears in your eyes when paired with the visual.

One can’t help but make comparisons of a new film score to prior scores while listening and in our opinion, this feels much more like a John Powell live-action score than any of the more common composers utilized by Pixar (Randy Newman, Michael Giacchino, or Thomas Newman).

Whether this type of feel for a Pixar film will be well received by critics en masse is yet to be seen, but one thing we can guarantee is that it’s definitely worthy of adding to your Pixar score collection.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below or chat about it in the Forum with other Pixar fans to share your opinions.


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Order or listen to The Good Dinosaur soundtrack on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, or YouTube Music.

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