Share this article

print logo

McCartney's ballet score sounds generic

With a long and winding career that has lasted more than 50 years, Paul McCartney is one of the most prominent figures in popular and contemporary music. With a career that has dabbled either directly or indirectly with psychedelic, raga, rock 'n' roll, baroque pop and experimental music, it is no surprise that McCartney has become involved with classical music.

One can even see the roots of this full-fledged album in Beatles songs as early as "She's Leaving Home" and "Eleanor Rigby." In fact, this is not even the musician's first recorded classical album, but with it being the score to a New York City ballet, it will be the most recognizable.

Keep in mind that this is not "Band on the Run." There are no guitar- or piano-oriented melodies. There are no catchy hooks, or even any lyrics at all. Going in with an open mind is the only way to approach the album, because, in all honesty, the score is rather dull. The score is composed entirely by McCartney, and put to sound by John Wilson and the London Classical Orchestra. The album consists of four orchestration movements: 1. Ocean's Kingdom (the title track); 2. Hall of Dance; 3. Imprisonment; and 4. Moonrise. Not bad names at all, right? Well, the music should equally match them, but none of the movements ever really takes off and soars like it should.

The title track, with its joyously lush arrangements, may be the strongest of the four, but it still does not evoke enough emotional response that a classical music score should. Where music composers for films and musical plays create the score so one can imagine the scene playing out in their head, McCartney has simply created a score that fits the bill for his ballet.

McCartney fans should not write off the score as a complete wash though, as each track brings something unique and interesting: "Hall of Dance" creates a royal, majestic, very English -- albeit vague -- scene. "Imprisonment" has moments of sinister vibes. And "Moonrise" is whimsical, though it comes off as a bit generic, which is the best way to describe the entire score. Not bad, just generic.

There are shimmers of genius within the music -- this is Paul McCartney after all -- but overall there isn't much that grabs you and makes you want to finish listening to the 57-minute score. If you are a fan of classical music or McCartney (or both), you might as well give it a listen since the CD only costs $11. The music is nice enough, to even the most casual of classic music appreciators, to listen to -- even if it's just background music. Listening to the score, as a dedicated fan, is more of a chore if anything, though it does have its rewards. However, if you are a fan of neither classical music nor McCartney, then stay far away from this album.


Alexander Randazzo is a senior at City Honors.



"Ocean's Kingdom"

By Paul McCartney