I won’t sugarcoat it, Mark Mothersbaugh’s score to The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is pretty awful, being essentially a fifty-minute-long genre-hopping musical mess.
I liked the score for the first Lego Movie. The mixture of electronics and orchestra worked really well, and Mothersbaugh had a solid heroic theme for main character Emmet that cropped up frequently and was actually rather memorable. I wasn’t a big fan of the constant genre-switching that occurred as Emmet & crew hopped from one LEGO area to another, but it worked well within the context of the film and as a standalone album experience it wasn’t completely awful. The decent main theme and good use of orchestra also more than made up for this, and so overall I rather enjoyed that score.
The same however cannot be said for the score to the sequel; The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (a questionable movie title I might add). Gone are the established themes and motifs from the first movie (or they were at least subtle enough here that I couldn’t pick them out – and I was looking!) and the genre-switching and anti-cohesive album construction elements that were present in the first score have been increased tenfold and really doubled down on, making this new album a pretty awful listening experience pretty much from beginning to end. Strong words I know, but I wouldn’t say them if I didn’t think they were true.
The second track of the score (entitled Main Title) serves as a pretty good example of what I’m on about. It opens with some rather ominous and very grandiose brass notes before jumping immediately into some very electronic-y sounding percussion and dubstep-esque backing “noise” (and I use the word “noise” for a good reason). This rather bizarre genre combination then finishes up with some pretty threatening-sounding traditional orchestral brass and the track then comes to an abrupt end. One and a half minutes have gone by at this point, and after listening to this particular piece I found myself more than a little bewildered. The constant jumping between genres was just weird, not because of the genre-mixing itself but the way it was done – just randomly moving between them, with no sense of flow or musical continuity. Not only did it basically ruin the musical experience as I frankly just couldn’t get into the track, but it also confused the hell out of me, and by the end I was mainly thinking; what on Earth is going on?
The rest of the score unfortunately continues in a similar vein. At this point, I also feel that I need to take a moment to talk about themes. This score has no real cohesion to it, and I feel that the major reason for this is the pretty much complete and utter lack of themes. The first film’s soundtrack had quite a variety, the most important of which being the main theme for Emmet, showcased right at the beginning of this track from the first film’s score;
It’s an upbeat, heroic and actually rather memorable motif – and it occurs pretty frequently throughout the entire score. Not only does this theme not appear at all in this sequel score (a ridiculous and frankly bizarre decision I might add) but there is also no replacement. In fact, as far as I could pick out, there are no themes of any kind in this new score – at least, none that were memorable or recurred frequently enough for me to notice them and pick them out. Without this thematic content, the mixture of genres becomes just that – a weird collage of different musical styles. As a result, this album doesn’t feel like a score – more like a collection of ideas.
There are thankfully some salvageable elements of this score, these majorly consisting of a couple halfway decent action tracks One such piece of music is Run, a fast-paced and highly enjoyable two and a half minutes of excellently blended videogame-style electronics and high-octane action orchestra. Stylistically it harkens back to the good old days of the original Lego Movie score, though not quite going as far as to quote any of it’s themes (which is a shame). Rexcelsior Tour/Crank The Warp Drive is another example; opening with a standard strings-based orchestra and frantic vocals combination and then moving through and culminating in a pretty excellent blend of heroic brass and halfway decent electronics. The back half of this track is also about as close as this score gets to an actual theme.
Main character Emmet seems to get another motif altogether in Emmet The Hero, one that is sadly nowhere near the dramatic and memorable levels that the motif from the original movie was. Not that it really matters though, as said new motif appears just once in the entire sequel score; that once being here in this track (again, another bizarre design decision). The album then closes out with Rex Vanishes, a rather solemn-sounding strings-based finale that is surprisingly calm for this score, and it sticks in one genre lane for it’s entire two minute runtime – another first.
Overall though, Mark Mothersbaugh’s score to The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is all over the place. Due to it’s complete and utter lack of any thematic material, it has no real cohesive narrative and so ends up being just a loose and at points bizarre mess of different musical genres. The music constantly jumps from one area to another, usually spanning several massively different areas of music just in one track. Not only does this make the score very confusing to try and follow, but it also ends up being a particularly unenjoyable album experience as well. The music frequently starts and stops and speeds up and slows down and changes instruments and shifts styles – and after a while you just don’t want to listen to it anymore. It’s too much like hard work.
I’m sure that in the movie itself this score is mind-blowing, but as a standalone album experience – forget it.
Standout Cue: 17. Rexcelsior Tour/Crank The Warp Drive