Randy Newman Blends Nostalgic and New Themes — Our ‘Toy Story 4’ Soundtrack Review

Randy Newman has crafted another emotional soundtrack for Toy Story 4 which blends familiar nostalgic elements with new themes.
Toy Story 4 Soundtrack Review

If you’ve seen Toy Story 4, you know there were moments that made you laugh, made you cry, and maybe even made you jump in your seat (thanks, Benson). When scoring a sequel, composers have to blend nostalgic elements that bring back fond memories along with new cinematic themes — Randy Newman has done this in a very thoughtful way throughout the Toy Story 4 soundtrack that enhanced our reactions while seeing the film.

Standing in at 26-tracks and 1-hour and 13-minutes, the soundtrack is sure to please fans — but, if you haven’t seen the film yet, I’d avoid reading any further as the track titles and our review could give away some plot points.


If you’re looking for more of the nostalgic feel, our favorite tracks are easily Operation Pull ToyBuzz’s Flight & a Maiden, and Parting Gifts & New Horizons. All of these tracks evoke elements from prior films while blending in moments of high emotion as well.

If you’d like to get a sense for the newer character’s themes, be sure to listen to School DazeTrash Can ChroniclesRecruiting Duke CaboomCowboy Sacrifice, and Gabby Gabby’s Most Noble Thing. We could even imagine elements from the opening of Gabby Gabby’s Most Noble Thing fitting into the Toy Story Mania ride queue line at Disney Parks to give it a fresh take.

We also have to call out Plush Rush! as the final track because we’re so thrilled that Ducky and Bunny’s long-play joke was included with all it’s wonderful jazz moments. We also couldn’t believe that the soundtrack ends with a scream!


The score supplemented the visuals on the screen beautifully and although the new lyrical songs don’t feel like they’ll be instant-classics like You’ve Got a Friend in MeStrange Things, or When She Loved Me, the score certainly earns its place amongst the other wonderful Toy Story soundtracks. Check out our detailed track breakdown below and watch a brief behind-the-scenes scoring session with Randy Newman below as well.


  1. You’ve Got a Friend in Me (2:04) — You can’t go wrong starting the soundtrack with the classic recording from the original film.
  2. I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away (2:06) — What surprised us most about this new original song was our belief that it would be quite sullen based on the title. Between Randy’s signature vocals, drumkit, and the choir backing him, it turned out to be a much more upbeat, almost New Orlean’s style of song that blended Forky and Woody’s hilarious montage in a perfect way.
  3. The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy (1:45) — Chris Stapleton does a wonderful job blending his traditional-style country and blues vocals with Randy’s lyrics showcasing Woody’s lonesome past. Listen to this full song, embedded below the tracklistUpdated November 20, 2019. This song has been nominated for “Best Song Written For Visual Media” at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
  4. Operation Pull Toy (5:19) — The western feel of the opening sequence makes you feel right at home in the Toy Story world, but as the mission gets underway, the military-inspired rescue of R.C. really ramps up the energy before leading to the hugely emotional moment between Bo Peep and Woody.
  5. Woody’s Closet of Neglect (3:56) — Splashes of Woody’s theme are overshadowed by moments of despair throughout this track. You can almost hear Woody’s desire to be played with peeking out in the soundtrack amongst his frustration with his new position in Bonnie’s room — it’s definitely a track of intense dichotomies.
  6. School Daze (4:22) — This is easily one of our favorite tracks off the album and we love the soft piano and woodwinds. This has a distinctively different feel from the other films — which it should since it’s centered around Bonnie and Woody’s story rather than Andy and Woody.
  7. Trash Can Chronicles (3:28) — There are moments of this that feel like early Disney films with swirling magical moments (like Cinderella getting her dress from her fairy Godmother) which turn into lighthearted moments of humor as well.
  8. The Road to Antiques (2:42) — This track builds with suspense and blends with sweet undertones as Woody spots Bo Peep’s lamp in the store window. 
  9. A Spork in the Road (1:56) — The song starts innocently with touches of classic Toy Story which blend into a great standup bass piece before swinging back into a thoughtful piece with a lot of heart. We have to say we didn’t like how abruptly the track ended though — of course, this is mostly driven off how the scene was edited.
  10. Rubber Baby Buggy Butlers (1:53) — Great moments of creepiness with a jump scare moment as Gabby Gabby is introduced and Woody and Forky get swept away while a snare drum accompanies their march.
  11. Buzz’s Flight & a Maiden (4:07) — If you love Buzz, this is the track for you as it dives back into the Zurg’s Planet sequence from Toy Story 2. This one really, really builds and the strings develop into an amazing solo against the militant feel surrounding it. This is also one of our favorites.
  12. Ducky, Bunny & Tea (2:17) — Lots of fun moments are sprinkled throughout this track that has an almost light, spring morning breath of fresh air feel.
  13. Moving at the Speed of Skunk (1:35) — Continuing the lightness of the last track, Moving at the Speed of Skunk starts with a lovely harp and what we believe is a glockenspiel. The song starts to increase in intensity as a slide note on a standup bass kicks off the change. This is a fun track and really highlights the newer Toy Story 4 sweet-to-chaotic feel in 95-seconds.
  14. Bo Peep’s Panorama for Two (2:36) — As Woody and Bo Peep overlook the carnival and town of Grand Basin, the sweeping views paired with Woody’s returning feelings for Bo Peep make this a standout track of strings, chimes, and harp. This has classic Randy Newman written all over it as the song swells with timpani drums and a really prominent high-hat cymbal bridging moments of drama. The song ends with a really interesting Godfather feel with Italian roots.
  15. Three Sheeps to the Wind (2:55) — Building on the suspense of the film, this is one of those tracks that serve the visual element of the film really well, but listening after the fact doesn’t allow it to stand out as much as some of the others.
  16. Sneaking and Antiquing (1:42) — Really has a classic cartoonish spy film feel tied in with horror film elements and it builds throughout so you get a sense for what’s to come. 
  17. Recruiting Duke Caboom (1:17) — We were really excited to dive into this track. This track is the moment when Duke recounts letting his child, Rijon, down because he cannot perform the stunts as advertised in his commercial. We still want to know why Randy chose an accordion for this moment — we love it.
  18. Prepping the Jump (2:20) — As the title says, this song is all about building towards Duke and Woody’s big jump and the track feels like an extension of Sneaking and Antiquing.
  19. Let’s Caboom! (4:08) — If you enjoy tons of action and adventure, this is the track for you. This song aligns with the very legitimate chase sequence in the antique shop.
  20. Cowboy Sacrifice (2:07) — My gosh, what can you say about such an emotional moment — whenever Benson and the boys are around you know the song is going to start with some frightening moments. Luckily, because it’s also about Woody’s sacrifice, it has really emotional moments of reflection and joy as well.
  21. Operation Harmony (4:24) — This track may be everything in one, from lighthearted classic cartoon feel to beautiful moments that build into high emotion — you must listen to this track.
  22. Duke’s Best Crash Ever (2:43) — Duke certainly gets the celebratory song he deserves with huge cymbal crashes, jubilant tones as he (kind-of) sticks his landing.
  23. Gabby Gabby’s Most Noble Thing (3:03) — Goodness, this song is beautifully layered with piano, clarinet, flute, and string swells as Gabby Gabby searches for and finds what she’s been after for countless years.
  24. Parting Gifts & New Horizons (5:05) — This song punctuates the visual and emotional ending of the film perfectly and is packed with deep emotion throughout. I could only imagine how many tears we would have shed if we were present during the scoring of this song — specifically at 3:00 into the song through the end. This track is one of Randy’s finest across his catalog.
  25. The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy (Soundtrack Version) (1:49) — A bonus version of the song sung by Randy. As much as the Chris Stapleton version is great, it’s also fun to hear Randy’s signature vocals on the track as well.
  26. Plush Rush! (1:10) — This moment from the film was one of our favorites and we’re ecstatic that they included the long-play joke. We love the jazz moments of relaxation leading up to the loud scream.


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Check out the soundtrack on Apple MusicAmazon, or Spotify by using our pre-populated links. Additionally, listen to The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy full song embedded below (or on YouTube).


I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away

I can’t let you, I can’t let you
I can’t let you throw yourself away
I can’t let you (I can’t let you)
I can’t let you (I can’t let you)
I can’t let you throw yourself away

Don’t you wanna see the sun come up each morning?
Don’t you wanna see the sun go down each day?
Don’t you wanna see that girl who loves you so?
Her heart would break, if you should go


Son, it seems to me like you’re never gonna behave yourself
Since I’m not gonna do this every day
Come tomorrow, you’re gonna have to save yourself
Got nothin’ more to say, you’re not listening anyway


Lonesome Cowboy

I was a lonesome cowboy
Lonesome as I could be
You came along, changed my life
And fixed what was broken in me

I was a lonesome cowboy
I didn’t have a friend
Now I got friends comin’ out of my ears
I’ll never be lonesome again

You can’t be happy when you’re all by yourself
Go on, tell me I’m wrong (You’re wrong)
When someone takes you down from the shelf
And plays with you some, it’s wonderful (Wonderful)

I was a lonesome cowboy
But not anymore
I just found out what love is about
I’ve never felt this way before

I was a lonesome cowboy
But not anymore

Pixar Post — T.J.

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