A Bug’s Life (1998) – Randy Newman

Disney/Pixar’s A Bug’s Life is one of my favorite of the Pixar soundtracks, and certainly my favorite of Randy Newman’s Pixar scores.

The first song on the album is “The Time of Your Life”, sung by Newman himself, which I had never paid much attention to until tonight; I knew the first line and the chorus, but ignored the rest because I didn’t see how it connected to the film. As it turns out, the lyrics are all about being ambitious and pursuing what you love; in other words, it describes Flik in the film. Who’d have thought it, eh? The song itself is catchy, and it’s heavily referenced in the orchestral score in tracks like “Seed to Tree” and “Flik Leaves” – both of which are meant to foreshadow Flik’s rise to greatness as the film progresses.

Newman plays around with leitmotifs, composing an industrial, hip-sounding theme for Flik’s grain-harvesting machine and for the city (“The Flik Machine”, “The City”), a sort of “aggression” theme heard in “The Bird Flies” and “Ants Fight Back”, a gypsy-like theme for the circus bugs introduced in “Circus Bugs” and hinted at again in “Loser”, and a few other various themes heard throughout. The way each of these leitmotifs is interlaced into the score is like a game of tug-of-war; each melody is designed to pull your attention to the character(s) they represent, and they each take turns pulling your attention back and forth.

Since this was only Newman’s second Pixar film score, most of the material in A Bug’s Life is pretty original, minus a bit of the filler music (non-thematic material) that resembles his score to Toy Story. Newman’s score brings a sense of grandeur to a world that we rarely think about because of how minuscule it is, showing that, while our world may be big to us, it’s even bigger to a bug; they can have big adventures too! My favorite track is the last one on the album, “A Bug’s Life Suite”, because it contains all of the main themes heard throughout the film…seriously, go listen to that! All film soundtracks should be required to have suites/overtures.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

1. “The Time of Your Life” (performed by Newman) 3:16
2. “The Flik Machine” 2:54
3. “Seed to Tree” 1:01
4. “Red Alert” 1:49
5. “Hopper and his Gang” 3:21
6. “Flik Leaves” 2:37
7. “Circus Bugs” 1:27
8. “The City” 2:35
9. “Robin Hood” 0:59
10. “Return to Colony” 1:33
11. “Flik’s Return” 1:24
12. “Loser” 2:43
13. “Dot’s Rescue” 4:00
14. “Atta” 1:08
15. “Don’t Come Back” 1:07
16. “Grasshoppers’ Return” 3:01
17. “The Bird Flies” 2:38
18. “Ants Fight Back” 2:14
19. “Victory” 2:33
20. “A Bug’s Life Suite” 5:12

Total Length: app. 48 min.

iTunes Album Link



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