Various Artists – TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (soundtrack)

3 out of 5

Label: Atlantic

Produced by: Kevin Weaver, Sharon Cohen

The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack took music that was fitting for its era – mostly funk, new jack – and that also mapped to the movie’s tone well, had some original, Turtles-themed songs, then capped it all off with excerpts from a fantastic score by John du Prez.

2007’s CGI TMNT soundtrack actually kinda sorta follows a similar pattern, and maybe I’d say I’m just less enthused because pop-emo and candy-coated rock isn’t normally my bag – i.e. this is not my era of music – but neither was funk and new jack, but I sure did / do listen to that first album a lot, and this one not at all. Okay, so maybe there’s nostalgia at play, and fair enough, though I would say this movie was also huge for me, being a lifelong Turtles fan and getting to see the boys onscreen anew as an adult; not exactly nostalgia, but I’d be all about supporting the soundtrack if… If I felt like it conjured up the feelings the film did.

But I’d say soundtracks had changed between 1989 and 2007. Yes, we’ve always had (hopefully) money-making soundtracks to films, stuffed with big hits of the time, but it became a weird commodity during the era when digital was making brick and mortar music stores go under; when music was becoming much, much more something that had a hot new face every few minutes instead of every month. Yes: it ain’t like it used to be, says the old man. And that take makes the soundtrack very faceless. Even a song that was maybe made for the movie? – Gym Class Heroes’ Shell Shock – while a lot of fun, doesn’t “sound” like a song that needs to be in a Turtles movie. As for the rest of it, I’d say all of these tracks are quality: they hit their marks; they’re performed and produced well. They’re hummable. It is not an annoying soundtrack; I can bob my head to it. It’s just faceless.

At the end, you do have two score tracks by Klaus Bedelt, which are really, really good, particularly his Night Watcher track… and make me hope there’s some full version of his score out there, somewhere.