Compared to Disney, Pixar’s list of feature films is short. With only 19 movies on its resume — compared to Disney’s whopping 56 — Pixar is the embodiment of quality over quantity. Out of those 19 films, 18 of them have been box-office successes, with scripts that are clever, smartly written, and geared toward adults and children alike. And even though the least successful film, The Good Dinosaur, did horrible in the box office, I thought it was one of the most visually stunning films to come out of the animation company.
In the end, if Pixar is producing a film, you know it’s going to be good.
Because Pixar Animation Studios produces visual art, it’s easy to gloss over its mastery of music, as well — and that’s largely due to the fact that these songs are instrumental and not being sung by Disney princesses while they let animals dress them in the morning.
Instead of being corny or overly lyrical, all of Pixar’s scores are aurally beautiful, featuring orchestras that accompany the film so well that, most times, you don’t even notice the soundtrack — the music really does immerse you into the story. There’s a reason why Pixar films make you feel all the feels and have you bawling within the first 10 minutes. They know how to subtly manipulate the music, with its crescendos and diminuendos, to mirror emotion. And that’s an oft-glossed-over skill that I think deserves high praise.
The three men that we have to thank for all this are Michael Giacchino and cousins Randy and Thomas Newman. These guys are hands-down some of the best music composers you’ll ever find, and between them, they’ve scored almost all of Pixar’s films (the one exception being Brave — which, to put it lightly, was terrible). You can distinguish their work almost instantly from other animated movies, and their songs definitely represent the “Pixar sound.”
So for this Monday Muse edition, I thought I’d celebrate the music of Pixar — and get you pumped for the upcoming Pixar Fest — by making a playlist of some of Pixar’s best songs (which means Brave didn’t make the cut… #sorrynotsorry). As you sit at your computer at work, or stare at your phone trying to avoid work, let the strains of these charming soundtracks comfort you and lull you into a mind-set of peace.
Happy listening, and happy Monday!
Here they are in chronological order — from Toy Story (1995) to Coco (2017). Enjoy!