Hercules (1997) – Alan Menken

Hercules holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first film that I remember viewing at the movie theater; I remember sitting next to my grandmother and cheering Hercules along from my seat in the audience. Looking at the soundtrack now brings back good memories.

Let’s look at the musical numbers first. The music is composed by renowned Disney composer Alan Menken (The Little MermaidBeauty and the BeastAladdin), with lyrics by David Zippel. The musical numbers are all over the place, with styles ranging from gospel to heroic to a sort of soul/pop mix. Making the Muses a gospel trio is probably the best part of the soundtrack, with infections songs like “Zero to Hero” and “A Star is Born” dominating. “Go the Distance” is probably the most memorable song from the film, though, and rightly so; it’s an anthem for persevering and chasing your dreams. I can almost guarantee that any kid who grew up in the early 90s could sing along with at least part of this song.

Though the musical numbers are the focus, the instrumental score composed by Alan Menken is full of gems as well. The latter portion of “The Gospel Truth/Main Title” is instrumental and features the main hero theme heard in the film, a fantastic horn fanfare that rings out proud. Menken also gives us some very different stuff, such as in “The Big Olive”. This track emulates the traditional “New York” style of music without using anything heavy-sounding, making it sound like what I’d imagine an ancient urban Greek city might have sounded like. Other standout tracks include “Meg’s Garden”, a sweet song that hints at the musical number “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” with some beautiful strings and piano, and even the short “Hercules’ Villa” is fun and a bit jazzy.

What more is there to say? The soundtrack to Hercules has something to offer for everyone, from great, flashy musical numbers to a beautiful, triumphant score by Alan Menken. Though it may not be as “classic” as Beauty and the Beast or AladdinHercules gives plenty of evidence as to why Alan Menken is one of the best musical composers, as well as one of the best animated film score composers, out there. 

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  1. “Long Ago…”   0:31
  2. “The Gospel Truth I/Main Titles”   2:26
  3. “The Gospel Truth ll”   0:59
  4. “The Gospel Truth lll”   1:06
  5. “Go The Distance”   3:14
  6. “Oh Mighty Zeus”   0:46
  7. “Go The Distance (Reprise)”   0:58
  8. “One Last Hope”   3:01
  9. “Zero To Hero”   2:21
  10. “I Won’t Say (I’m In Love)”   2:20
  11. “A Star Is Born”   2:04
  12. “Go The Distance (Single)” – Michael Bolton   4:42
  13. “The Big Olive”   1:07
  14. “The Prophecy”   0:54
  15. “Destruction Of The Agora”   2:07
  16. “Phil’s Island”   2:25
  17. “Rodeo”   0:40
  18. “Speak Of The Devil”   1:31
  19. “The Hydra Battle”   3:28
  20. “Meg’s Garden”   1:14
  21. “Hercules’ Villa”   0:37
  22. “All Time Chump”   0:38
  23. “Cutting the Thread”   3:24
  24. “A True Hero / A Star is Born”   5:34

Total Length: app. 48 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

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