Anticipation for Where The Wild Things Are is at a fever pitch. By all accounts, Spike Jonze has created a visual tour de force in his feature length adaptation of a ten sentence long children’s book. Karen O, lead singer for the art rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jonze’s former girlfriend, has created a fantastic soundtrack to accompany the film. In doing so she has enlisted a sterling supporting cast of musical talent, collectively referred to as Karen O and the Kids.
The songs on this soundtrack vary widely in tone and style. Some songs feature acoustic guitar and simple humming by Miss O. (“Igloo”). The first single, “All Is Love,” begins with a fast-paced, uplifting melody as the main character Max shouts out “One! Two! Ready, GO!” A childrens choir has been enlisted for background vocals on several tracks, and their youthful exuberance add a lot (See “Rumpus,” a track that takes its name from one of the books most iconic lines).
The tone of the songs ranges rather drastically. Far from another jubilant melody, “Animal” has Karen O desperately howling, “Call…Me…Animal!” while the guitar creates a Middle-Eastern-music influenced sound. “Heads Up” has a clap-along beat as Karen croons back and forth about being both pulled up and held down, as the tempo slowly increases into a crescendo.
This soundtrack stands alone as one of the better albums of 2009 on its own merit. The fact that it is affiliated with one of the most anticipated movies of the year only adds to the product. The film is an adaptation of a beloved children’s book that came out in 1964 and continues to grow in popularity nearly 50 years later.
To prepare for this review, I checked the 1964 Caldecott winning book out of my local library. Even still, the power of the story impacts me, and this music does a brilliant job of capturing that power.