Jazzy scores are hard to come by these days, and good ones are even rarer. Brian Tyler has hit both highs with his score to Crazy Rich Asians, a delightfully fun album that is one of his best compositions to date.
Brian Tyler’s Crazy Rich Asians is a rich orchestral score with heavy emphasis on jazz, and this not only makes it unique (a difficult category to fall into nowadays) but also an absolute joy to listen to. As a composer who is mainly known for his more action oriented soundtracks (Iron Man 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Tyler performs incredibly here.
The album opens with the main Love Theme, and already you can tell the score is going to be a good one. Tyler starts out with long strings that slowly play the simple yet effective eight-note theme, and over the course of its just over two minute runtime he adds various backing strings and percussion until the track becomes simply sublime. The theme itself is a very beautiful piece, and holds the score up high as it intertwines with other tracks throughout the surprisingly short hour long album. As a result of this, he Love Theme is absolutely the Standout Cue of Crazy Rich Asians, being one of the better main themes that I have heard in a good while.
Text Ting Swing is up next, and this has much more of an emphasis on jazz than the main theme. Brass takes the forefront almost immediately, with a fast pace kicking the track off to a great start. Tyler then makes excellent use of percussion and backing strings as well as occasional loud drums to drive home the rapid nature of the piece. Overall Text Ting Swing does an excellent job of demonstrating just how great the composer is at composing jazzy music, and sets a great precedent for the rest of the album.
Approaching The Palace returns to a more orchestral setting with a short brass-led rendition of the main Love Theme before moving up into some just fantastic sounding strings. Dramatic percussion takes up the background, occasionally popping up in the primary slot to deliver an extra shot of drama into the warm, romantic style of the track. Tyler then switches back to a more standard orchestral one with Astrid, but surprisingly the two very different genres heard so far seem to work rather well together, as the transition between them is near seemless. Tyler has succeeded majorly here, as this is not a feat that should go unnoticed.
The orchestra continues in Astrid And The Earrings, with Tyler bringing in a piano as his primary instrument. It then delivers some simple yet gorgeous-sounding rising notes that combined with the strings in the background make for some uplifting and frankly beautiful music. Sadly this doesn’t last long however as the track only runs for about ninety seconds, which is a shame as it feels like the music is building up to something that simply never arrives. What we got in Astrid And The Earrings was good, but it definitely could have been better.
Choices is a much slower paced track, and it keeps the orchestral style going with a simple yet great sounding piano rendition of the main theme to start things off. The orchestra then slowly starts to build with backing strings and quiet percussion, creating quite anxious and melancholic sounding music as it does so. The build up continues for a good two minutes before abruptly dissapating right at the end, which was a little bit of a letdown (in a similar fashion to the previous track).
Family First and Parallel Decisions are the next two cues that stand out, both being slow romantic pieces that are simply a joy to listen to. Parallel Decisions in particular is fantastic, as it starts off with a quiet piano melody and then slowly introduces strings. The pace then slowly increases as the music continues, with jazzy elements cropping up every so often. Woodwinds then take prominence (an odd choice, but a highly effective one here) as well as strings for a wonderfully glamorous conclusion.
The more dramatic and nail biting side of Tyler’s score returns in Because Of Me, with a piano taking the lead initially before we are treated to a woodwinds-based rendition of the amazing main theme. This then leads into a louder and more powerful strings-based rendition that then quietly fades into a slow melody before the track ends. The main theme’s beautiful return here makes Because Of Me one of the best tracks on the album.
The jazz then returns in full force with Jubilee Bop, a piece that heavily references the fast-paced nature of Text Ting Swing, even going so far as to directly quote from it at several points. This track is a lot of fun, and also makes for a wonderful end to one of the composer’s best albums.
For Crazy Rich Asians, Brian Tyler has mixed together two wildly different genres (standard orchestral and fast-paced jazz) and yet has made them work almost seamlessly together. This is quite a feat, and it has definitely paid off as the score overall sounds absolutely fantastic. There are one or two tracks that are just ambient music, as well as a few more that do the incredibly irritating Build Up To Nowhere (a trait that usually accompanies Hans Zimmer) but overall the score to Crazy Rich Asians sounds simply amazing, and is a welcome breath of fresh jazzy air.
Standout Cue: 1. Crazy Rich Asians: Love Theme