Check it out... if you can appreciate loud, bombastic, orchestral melodrama, as Creed wears its heart on its sleeve unabashedly
Skip it... if you demand subtlety from your scores, as Goransson's approach here features direct emotions that do not attempt to subdue their audacity
"Despite its machismo, Creed has a heart of gold."
Tasked with scoring a Rocky sequel (and a good one at that!), composer and highly acclaimed producer Ludwig Goransson returns for a second collaboration alongside director Ryan Coogler. Here, he offers very few surprises; Creed is an uproariously loud, stirring score, that seeks to rouse the spirit in as blatant a fashion as is musically possible. It is very much a descendant of the original score in the Rocky franchise, and that's not just because it reprises some of the various motifs conceived and popularised by Bill Conti; Goransson captures both the intimacy of the feature's relationships, and the invigorating power of the sport that defines this series. In a similar way to Conti's work, Creed shall be remembered for its electrifying main theme; a heroic five chord conjunct melody, followed by a variety of longer motifs, that form together to create one hell of a hum-worthy character identity. But Creed is filled with more than just anthems of Herculean melodrama. Due to the film's content, Goransson spends time exploring the intimate struggles of the characters, as on the opening, 'Juvy', a piece characterised by its dissonant synthetic textures, aggressive in execution, that eventually part to reveal a tender, faint performance of the main identity, that cleverly exposes the heart of the rough, beat-up protagonist, Adonis Creed. Despite its machismo, Creed has a heart of gold.
With regards to technicalities, Creed's most commendable quality is its intelligent combination of contemporary and classical styles. It's very obvious that Goransson is well-versed in hip-hop and R&B production, as the score deftly balances graceful orchestral grandeur with rhythmic-based percussive refrains, many of which transform into swaggering crescendos. If you wanted further proof that Goransson's work is grounded in modernistic inclinations, the official soundtrack for the film features a track, 'Waiting For My Moment', that has Donald Glover, Jhene Aiko, and most significantly, hip-hop artist Vince Staples, performing over the top of Goransson's compositions for the score. I would recommend adding this track onto the end of your Creed playlist, as it successfully summarizes the kind of epic moods and themes the rest of the score dabble in. In terms of the score itself, highlights are plentiful; the intimacy and emotion of 'Rocky Is Sick' resonates wholly; the glorious (and obligatory) 'If I Fight, You Fight (Training Montage)' lifts the soul; and the solo piano of 'You Can See The Whole Town From Up Here', which hearkens back to Conti's 'Philadelphia Morning', with its jazz arrangement of the primary theme, will easily bring both a smile to your face and a tear to your cheek. For those who seek little more than action, 'Conlan Fight' will have you satisfied, fiery brass blaring all throughout. In this momentous track, Goransson develops a small motif for Adonis' opponent, Ricky Conlan; another five chord epic, performed in minor, that spars briefly with our main theme, to tremendous effect. The other minor melodies that have been developed over the course of the score, alongside the primary leitmotif, are offered audacious performances during this stunning piece, from the mid-point onwards. From beginning to end, Creed excels in arousing excitement, pride, and unmitigated joy; it's quite easily one of the most effective scores of 2015. Goransson injects such potent energy into its tapestry that to avoid humming its central thematic concept is a futile effort. The film and the score follow much the same path; they are, to a fault, homages for their original works, yet triumph in superseding both Avildsen's film and Conti's score, thanks to a fearless sincerity. Neither Goransson nor Coogler approached this project with malicious intent. Their work feels like it was conceived by passionate fans, and it allows for the feature and score to remain endearing, even in questionable instances. If nothing more, Goransson's score is quite simply the most entertaining of the past year. You can purchase Creed on Amazon or iTunes, here and here.
Additional notes about release: none.
|7.||Moving in with Rocky||1:20|
|9.||Front Street Gym||3:21|
|10.||The Sporino Fight||4:34|
|11.||Shed You (Interlude)||2:40|
|12.||I Got You||1:02|
|13.||Rocky is Sick||2:17|
|14.||Caught in the Shadow||1:20|
|15.||If I Fight, You Fight (Training Montage)||4:54|
|18.||You're a Creed||4:26|
|19.||You Can See The Whole Town From Here||2:11|
|20.||End Credits – Creed||3:08|
|Total Album Time:||59:27|