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Sharknado 2 (Chris Ridenhour & Christopher Cano)

January 29, 2015

Cover_Sharknado2SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE

Chris Ridenhour & Christopher Cano, 2014, Lakeshore Records
22 tracks, 74:04

With “Sharknado” becoming a cult hit, a second one, called “The Second One”, was inevitable; and a third one (yet imaginatively untitled) has been announced. Oh… will the score live up to the hype?

Review by Peter Simons

What is it?

I won’t go into the details of the plot for this sequel – there is little to go into. Another storm. More sharks. More dead people. The acting is no better; neither are the visual effects. It’s still so bad, it’s quite funny. Whilst the film is directed by the same director who directed the first “Sharknado“, the second “Sharknado”, “Sharknado 2: The Second One” does come with a new composer – or two, or three in fact. Chris Ridenhour and Christopher Cano take the main credit, whilst Eliza Swenson is listed as an additional composer. Rumour has it she heroically finished the score all on her own under extremely challenging (and wet) circumstances, after Chris and Christopher were tragically eaten alive when a 3D shark escaped from the screens and killed everyone in the studio. Eliza killed the shark with a spare midi cable, took control of the keyboard and completed the score, narrowly avoiding being electrocuted. I’m not sure how true any of that is, but I have yet to hear otherwise…

What does it sound like?

The album opens with “Fin in the Clouds”, which is a near-epic 12 minutes long. Again we got plenty of ostinato strings, percussion and electric guitar sounds, but there is also strong emphasis on brass (more so than the prequel). I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to sitting through a 12-minute cue for “Sharknado 2”, but it just flew by! It’s well paced and structured; and it’s quite melodic (not memorable, but it tries to do more than just bang the drums). It’s an ambitious piece!

“I felt that the opening scene on the plane really set the stage for the film,” says co-composer Cano. “The music that Chris Ridenhour wrote for that scene really knocked it out of the park for me as well.  “Sharknado 2″ has a much bigger feel to me, probably because of it being in New York. For my cues I just focused on what seemed right for the sequel.”

“Calm Before the Storm” is ‘just’ an atmospheric cue, but it offers some interesting textures. Particularly the wavering strings are nice. They are reprised in “Home Run”, “Falling Sharks” and “Samurai Sharks”; but I must say they sound familiar – I’m thinking something from “The Matrix”. Many of the tracks that initially follow are of an atmospheric nature, though the composers do inject harmonic shifts and melodies to keep things moving. It’s a shame it’s not more memorable, because technically there is nothing wrong with it. These guys clearly know how to write filmmusic – really, I’ve heard a lot worse from far more high-profile composers!

“Tunnels and Attack” contains more than a slight hint of “Aliens”, due to the various string effects, percussive hits and use of anvil. The timpani work in “The Subway” recalls Jerry Goldsmith. The staccato brass towards the end of this cue is pretty cool, though clearly only possible with samples (I’m not sure a live section would’ve been able to do that). A few more action cues follow, before “Elevator and Bike Run” offers some welcome respite (if only for a minute). While still well-written, the score is starting to drag.

The album concludes with the 15-minute “The Big Ending”. An almost Goldsmith-esque horn takes the lead. Subsequently it reprises various elements of the score, showing influences from Horner and Zimmer amongst others. Again, it’s an ambitious piece, though it is more fragmented than the opening cue. It is tremendously good fun though and it tries to pull off some epic melodies. I think it’s just lacking gravitas, and lacking a live performance, to really pull it off, but the effort is appreciated. It’s particularly fun trying to an recognise the various musical influences – not sure how deliberate they are, but it makes for an entertaining listen.

Is it any good?

Like the first one, “Sharknado 2: The Second One” is surprisingly good fun; and technically much better than you might expect from this film. It’s still all sampled, but I’d argue that this one sounds marginally better than the other one.

One of the prequel album’s strengths was its 30-minute running time, thus not over-staying its welcome. Unfortunately “Sharknado 2” does do just that. At 74 minutes it offers more than is appreciated. The strength and appreciation of both scores lie in the fact that they are surprisingly alright. I don’t want to give faint praise to the composers involved, as they are showing some real craftmanship, but these scores aren’t quite good enough to warrant such a mammoth playing time.

However, stick with “Fin in the Clouds”, “Calm Before the Storm” and “The Big Ending” and you’ve got yourself half an hour of guilty pleasure.

Rating [2.5/5]

Tracklisting

1. Fin In The Clouds (12.15)
2. Calm Before The Storm (1.44)
3. Storm Is Coming (3.15)
4. The Call And Goodbye (2.14)
5. Cab Ride (0.55)
6. Home Run (0.23)
7. Tastes Like Chicken (1.09)
8. The Blaster (2.50)
9. Stadium Attack (3.25)
10. Tunnels And Attack (1.32)
11. Shark And Gator (1.14)
12. The Subway (2.53)
13. The End Is Near (2.38)
14. Taking Out The Garbage (2.06)
15. Weather Reports (2.05)
16. Shark Pizza (0.57)
17. Hospital Escape (1.50)
18. Jumping The Sharks (4.14)
19. Elevator and Bike Run (2.37)
20. Falling Sharks (2.38)
21. Samurai Sharks (5.44)
22. The Big Ending (15.26)

Availability

Both are available digitally via the usual channels.

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