"La La Land" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Album: La La Land Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Artist: Justin Hurwitz, Various Artists
Release Date: December 9, 2016
My Format: Vinyl, Apple Music
With a soundtrack, is a review a referendum on the music or the movie? With musicals, they are intrinsically tied together. Sometimes I listen to the soundtrack before I have a chance to watch the movie (or play...Hamilton is a perfect example of this), other times, I immediately acquire the music after I leave the theater in an attempt to bottle some of the magic on screen for diluted but steady distillation. Such is the case with "La La Land".
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are not mind-blowingly talented singers, but the strength of the songs is the story, the emotions, and the chemistry between the characters ("August Rush" is a good reference point). These actors and performers act and perform as actors and performers chasing their dreams in a dreamy world oscillating between "romanticism and realism" (as Patrick Schreiner insightfully summarized). The music carries with it the engaging and fraught storyline, and once you've seen it (perhaps even before), the piano melody transports you from the first note.
The only "real" song, "Start A Fire" by John Legend, who stars in the movie as well, is good, but itself illustrates the plot as it is markedly out of place among the reflective piano ballads. I really enjoyed the film and it won't take many listens to the soundtrack before I'm compelled to rewatch it.