So that’s what I say in response to the fact that I SORTA went alittle overboard with the score clips this time around. When I can’t even with all good of conscience say they really deserved it. For Season One, I had 78 score clips clocking in at 1.5 hours for twenty-two episodes. For Season Three, I have 100 score clips clocking in at 1.5 hours for sixteen episodes. FOR SHAME. But on the bright side, you guys get to reap the benefits of my OCD-ness. So, to help get everyone through the last month of this excruciating summer hiatus before our horribly tragic show comes back to us, I give you:
All scoring of Supernatural composed by Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska
I'd like to preface this with a bout of criticism on this season's score. I warn you, I'm a harsh critic, but ultimately, I criticize because I love. Of course, what follows is only my opinion, and as my music knowledge is only about as deep as a mediocre piano player and one class of film music gets me, hardly worth a sack of potatoes, but I'm going to say my piece anyway. For those of you who are just here for the downloads, feel free to skip below, this is going to be a long one....
While I will always enjoy Supernatural score, and while undoubtedly there still were a number of bright and shining moments this year, ultimately, I regret to say that for the most part of this season, I found the score to be disappointing in comparison to the quality of past seasons. While I understand that the source material might not have been consistently there as it had previously, we saw much less attempt to help the source than in past season. Score was widely inconsistent, notably absent or dull, and in some cases, actually a hindrance. Probably the biggest misstep of the season was how much of ‘Bad Day in Black Rock’ scored by Lennertz was littered with gimmicky sitcom-like score which was far too cartoonish for this show and under-valued the episode as a whole.
Stand outs were still seen though, most notably in Lennertz’s beautiful chorale-like "Be My Brother Again" score featured in ‘Fresh Blood’ as well as the return of Gruska’s "Dean Theme" in ‘No Rest For The Wicked’. "What I Have Done" [3.07] is one of my personal favorites of the season, accenting the moment of Sam’s reaction to facing his brother after one of the most brutal kills of the show. It gave an honesty to the moment, and it was small but open and raw and beautiful.
We did see a number of tightly consistent whole episodic scores by Lennertz as well. One of the reasons why I find 'Fresh Blood' and 'Jus In Bello' the best two episodes of the season is because of the entirely consistent and fabulously strong score that supports them. The unique set of beautiful unifying woodwinds that pervaded most of 'Bedtime Stories' really helped immensely in pulling off one of the more 'hard to sell' episode concepts of the series. That episode's related trio of The Truth, Letting Go, and What Dean Wants succeeded in tying together the emotional resonance of the episode to the boys far before narrative drew its own line. And as lackluster as the episode itself was, Lennertz did an excellent set of diverse cues for ‘A Magnificent Seven’, from the gritty, metallic clangor of "Enter Ruby" and "Ruby Stalks Sam" to the simple melodic morning mourning of "Burial" and "Parting Words". And of course, the source of most fans' favorite moment of the episode, the strings-featured calm-before-the-storm during Sam and Dean's holy water pouring silence, "A Quiet Moment", accomplished in 28 seconds and one look, what the whole rest of the episode was trying to do: make you feel the gravity of their situation.
The problem became in a lot of ways, the consistency of the score from episode to episode throughout the season. Whereas in S1 each composer had their own style but could still keep the show sounding cohesive week to week, in S2 the two styles had really evolved to create a more integrated sound that stayed much more consistent episode to episode. But somewhere along the line between S2 and S3 though, Gruska and Lennertz diverged widely.
Ultimately, a lot of what I loved about Gruska's scoring in the first season seemed to be missing for a majority of the season. Much of the episodic score by Gruska seemed derivative, and at some points, bordering on gimmicky. Some people expressed their endearment for the humor-ladden scores dubbed by many as Crack Music. It first appeared in 3x02 by Gruska ("Sitcomic Crack Music"), later littered in 3x03 by Lennertz ("Crack #3", "Sam's Bad Luck") and repeated in 3x10 and 3x11 again by Gruska. And I'll be honest, to me, it sounds like something right out of a Seinfield sitcom and honestly, I think, has no place in this show. [Lennertz's electric guitar-featured Silly Brothers motif used in the first two seasons seemed to be much more effective and in line with the show's style.] The run-of-the-mill ER-type running music was used far too often, mostly during chases, like in 3x02 [dubbed "Funkytown Score" for lack of a better name] as well as Sam's Macho montage of 3x11 ["Holy Full Metal Jacket Sam]. In both cases, it detracted from the tension the episodes had created, by pulling viewers out of the scene. I'd be lying if I didn't say they haven't grown on me over time, mostly because it now is PART of the show, but it doesn't change the fact that critically, all of this makes the show sound...dare I say, cheap? It takes away the cinematic quality that the show and its score used to consistently have. Which is absolutely ridiculous because we all know Gruska can do FAR better. We’ve HEARD it.
You never know what inspires a composer or what doesn't. We all know S3 was different than the seasons past, perhaps the material just didn't appeal as much as it had previously. Perhaps he was instructed differently by the producers (I have a sneaky suspicion that's who we can blame the numerous Crack Music reuses on), or was preoccupied with other projects. Perhaps he just needed more to work with. Important moments of the series, like those in 3.08 and 3.16 saw Gruska rise to the occasion. My number one personal favorite cue of the season was "Like Father, Like Son" heard in Gruska's 'No Rest For The Wicked', which was absolutely gorgeous in timbre and tone that expanded the sentiment of the moment far past the resonance one would have gotten without it. I would LOVE to see it reused in the future for Sam, if the occasion warranted it, and I know I'm not alone in that. [Hint, Hint: *singsongs* Sam still doesn't have his own theme!] I also loved the instances of "Funky Guitar Impala Interludes" Gruska used in a number of episodes to take the place of the Mullet Rock the budget couldn't pay for. A couple of little seconds really helped to preserve the original sound of the show that got lost where we went entire episodes without hearing any guitar strings. And in one small but severely interesting reuse, the "Mirror Murder" first heard when Dean killed his shapeshifter self way back in 'Skins', was used again in 3.10 ("Double Mirror Murder") as Dean kills his Demon self and Sam kills his own mirror, Jeremy.
One of the things that really became evident to me while working on this project was just how ridiculously absent the rustic part of the show had become this season. This is through no fault of the composers, obviously, but its absence is really reflected in the score itself, and is horribly missed. You can hear Lennertz try to infuse a piece of that rustic sound in a few spare moments anyway, once in 3.03 ("Gun Draw"), and once in 3.12 ("The Boys Walk In"). But ultimately, the episodes themselves were much more located in middle class, suburban or urban settings, rather than small towns and rural settings of the past seasons, and it's difference is definitely heard in its sound.
I say this as a reminder that scoring IS actually based off the show itself, and if the material doesn't give it, the score can't either. No one will argue with the fact that there were some missteps in Season Three, and its inconsistency was seen in everything from the writing right down to the scoring.
BUT. The upcoming season sounds to be, from all accounts, pulling out ALL THE STOPS.
So, for the upcoming fourth season, I would like to call on BOTH composers to step up to the plate and try to equal their truly cinematic score of the first season. Take a step back, look at what worked previously, key standout score episodes such as ‘Home’, 'Scarecrow' and ‘What Is’, standalones like 'Phantom Traveler' and 'Something Wicked', and beloved reoccurring motifs such as Dean’s Theme. Like I said, Sam still hasn't gotten one of his own, and if there's anytime to start one, now will be the time! And guys, if you're reading? Ditch the Crack Music, 'kay?
Despite all of my criticism, I still have to say, I had an absolute BALL putting this all together. I might not have always had the kindest of words for a good part of this season, but it really gave us a lot of moments that just make me grin like a stupid idiot in retrospect. And seeing what a dousy we’re in for this coming season, I think they’ll be moments we’ll all be holding onto for a long time.
I've divided the season into two 50 MB zip files of 50 mp3s which run about 45 minutes each. All mp3s have been volume boosted to match the levels of normal songs, so they can be added to playlists with the season's soundtrack. [Because "To Save Dean" just isn't the same when it's not breaking into BTO. Just like "What I Have Done" isn't the same when it's not breaking into "Crazy Circles" and "A Quiet Moment" isn't the same without breaking into "I Shall Not Be Moved"] Again, they were simply ripped from avi copies, therefore, they are not clean versions. They all include sound affects, many are dialogue-ridden as well. Those without major dialogue are denoted by the [#].
I included the vidding recaps of the premiere and finale ('cause they're just fun!), along with the "3.05 Recap" that has a piece of score that I just personally ADORE, even though I am about 99.99% sure it's actually Robert Rodriquez's score from Once Upon A Time In Mexico. I'm also about 99.99% sure that the Ghostfacers' "Power Walk" from 3.13 is not score either, but I haven't heard anyone ID it yet, so I clipped it anyway. And yes, i really did copy the five second Retro Presentation diddy from 3.08, it really just brings me that much joy.
The cues are listed below in the order that they appear in each episode. Most cues' origins should be easily discernible by title or dialogue, but if there's any your curious about, feel free to ask! I hope you all enjoy!
|3.01 - ‘A Magnificent Seven’|
- Hells Bells Recap
|3.02 - ‘The Kids Are Alright’|
- Sitcomic Crack Music [#]
|3.03 - ‘Bad Day At Black Rock’|
- Stored Up Past
|3.04 - ‘Sin City’|
- In The Church [#]
|3.05 - ‘Bedtime Stories’|
|3.06 - ‘Red Sky at Morning’|
- By The Docks [#]
|3.07 - ‘Fresh Blood’|
- The Boys Trail A Vamp [#]
(Secondary DL link HERE)
|3.08 - 'A Very Supernatural Christmas'|
- Retro Presentation [#]
|3.09 - 'Malleus Maleficarum|
- Warpath Sam
|3.10 - 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me'|
- Dean Watches Over Bobby [#]
|3.11 - 'Mystery Spot'
- The Mystery Spot [#]
|3.12 - 'Jus In Bello'|
- Going For The Colt [#]
|3.13 - 'Ghostfacers'|
- Strap In For...
|3.14 - 'Long Distance Call'|
- Sam And His Rental [#]
|3.15 - 'Time On My Side'|
- Parting Ways [#]
3.16 - 'No Rest For The Wicked'
- Carry On Recap
(Secondary DL Link HERE)
OTHER SPN SCORE POSTS:
- Dean's Family Dedication Theme [Downloads]
- Season Two's Scoring Overview Meta
- Big Damn SPN S1 Score Post [IDs and Downloads]
- List of Episodes for Each SPN Composer
- SPN's Musical Motifs
- SPN Composer Interviews
- SPN Pilot: Comparing The Pre-Aired Score to Aired Version's