Tag Archives: mark mothersbaugh




Mark Mothersbaugh, is a composer that has worked steadily over a period of many years, I first noticed his name on the opening credits to animated series such as RUGRATS, years ago, but his career began long before that as the composer worked on low budget movies such as REVENGE OF THE NERDS ll, SLAUGHTER HOUSE ROCK, and episodes of The Pee Wee Hermann show, Mothersbaugh is a composer who has an impressive list of credits to his name, but also sadly is a composer that is not a name that is regularly discussed amongst collectors of film and TV music, I was always impressed by his musical prowess and his adaptability whilst he worked on THE RUGRATS as his music would often change direction, style and sound over 30 times in one episode the composer altering his style and approach and being highly inventive and creative writing music to suit every situation in the sometimes 5 or 10 minute episode. He managed to create scores that were expressive and also recognisable as in the people watching (the adults that is) would get it straight away, he would often mimic well known themes in a similar way to composer Alf Clausen did when working on THE SIMPSONS, creating little parodies and pastiches to enhance certain situations, This I think is a true talent and a sign that the composer is capable of thinking on his feet and adapting quickly, it also displayed that Mothersbaugh had a good knowledge of music. His name then began to appear on numerous TV shows and he would scores series of programmes such as SOUTH BEACH, HOTEL MALIBU, SECOND CHANCES and BEAKMANS WORLD during the 1990’s. Bigger projects soon followed, and the composer made a more permanent move into scoring feature films and worked on productions such as, 21 JUMP STREET, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE LEGO MOVIE, 22 JUMP STREET etc, and even returned to scoring THE RUGRATS when they made their big screen appearances. Recently he has written the scores to, PITCH PERFECT 2, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS-THE ROAD CHIP, LEGO THE NINJANGO MOVIE, ME GUSTA, PERA ME ASUSTA and is working on HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3. He also stepped into the shoes of composers such as Patrick Doyle and Brian Tyler for the latest Marvel films production, THOR RAGNAROK. For this he has delivered an invigorating score, the work is a mix of both symphonic and electronic, it contains some pretty impressive epic sounding material but also has to it a more contemporary side, with the composer employing, up tempo percussion and Giorgio Moroder like syths and electric guitars to enhance the action, at the outset of the score, I felt that maybe the producers had done the right thing allowing this composer to score the film, but mid-way through, I have to admit I began to get a little tired of the synthetic sounding material.




A lot of collectors have complained that Marvel movies do not actually contain enough solid themes, well with THOR RAGNAROK, the themes are there well at least there are hints of themes present, but the composer is either not allowed to develop them more fully or does not see the need for them to be developed. Ok don’t get me wrong here, I love the way Mothersbaugh, infuses his score with a kind of mini homage to Brian Tyler, and allows a theme not dissimilar to that of Tyler’s THOR theme to run throughout the work, but again it is just a hint of a theme, where as if he were to have allowed it to grow and develop there might have been something special here to listen to. Towards the end of the score it again begins to return to a more structured and symphonic sounding work, with proud brass flourishes and stirring strings being carried along on a sea of percussive elements that are commanding and thundering. There is even a Jerry Goldsmith sounding cue, that rears its dramatic head in the form of ASGARD IS A PEOPLE, booming percussion, interspersed with jagged brass and underlined by driving strings and choir are fused into an action cue, that is exciting and tense, with a hint of the THOR theme by Tyler being brought in and out of the proceedings as it moves towards its powerful sounding crescendo of a conclusion. After this we are treated to WHERE TO? Which is an uplifting and proud sounding piece again for strings, percussion and brass. But personally, there is too much electronic, too much upbeat nothingness and not enough symphonic, many of the cues sounding like obscure tracks from a KRAFTWERK album. Mixed feelings on this one, which is a shame as Mothersbaugh is in my opinion normally a composer that delivers.



Like many other collectors of film music I first became aware of Mark Mothersbaugh when his name flashed up upon the credits for the RUGRATS, I must admit I never took a lot of notice of the music in this series as it was on basically for the kids in the house, so I don’t know anything about the show or Tommy, Angelica, the twins, the dog, Granpa and mom and Dad.  Anyway moving on, I often thought how talented Mothersbaugh must be because he managed to fit so much into the scores for THE RUGRATS and also seemed to include so many musical genres and styles. The composer was the musical voice of the Rugrats for almost 170 episodes and also later scored the movies that were based upon the TV series. But his career started before this when he was a member of the Avante Garde band DEVO, but his involvement with scoring movies came in 1987,when he wrote the music for REVENGE OF THE NERDS 2,NERDS IN PARADISE. This was swiftly followed by SLAUGHTER HOUSE ROCK in 1988, and then he started to work regularly on PEE WEES PLAYHOUSE for TV and scored approx 37 episodes of this show. In recent years the composer has been involved with his fair share of cinema success’s such as CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 1 AND 2, 21 JUMP STREET, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOUR EXPECTING, HOTEL TRANSYLVANNIA and the up and coming 22 JUMP STREET. He also maintained a fairly busy timetable with assignments for the small screen as in, GLORY DAZE, SHAMELESS, ENLIGHTENED and HOUSE OF LIES to name a handful. One of his latest scoring assignments is LAST VEGAS, This tells the story of four friends who decide in their sixties to go to Las Vegas to have a bachelor party for one of their number who is single. Robert de Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play the bunch of fun seeking pensioners who take Vegas by storm. The movie is pretty fast paced comedy with the central actors working superbly together creating a great atmosphere and delivering a plethora of one liners that are hilarious. The score by Mothersbaugh is fairly low key ,but certainly has its moments that are as entertaining as the movie itself, it has a real feel good persona about it and is for want of a better word a joyful sounding score, which entertains on so many levels and also appeals to a wide spectrum of tastes. It is for the first part of the score pretty much jazz led and at times has a sound to it that is straight out of the 60,s and the 70,s complete with a groovy sounding Hammond organ and stroked cymbals and drums, bouncy bass lines and infectious sounding percussive support that moves things along nicely, there are some great piano passages which are at times up beat boogie woogie infused cues.

English: Mark Mothersbaugh. Français : Mark Mo...
English: Mark Mothersbaugh. Français : Mark Mothersbaugh. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But for the most part this is one of those cool steamy soundtracks which evokes memories of past scores by the likes of Quincy Jones, Sid Ramin and Michel Legrand, it also at times yields to a highly emotive and affecting side, which in this particular case first makes an appearance in track number three PADDYINTRO/EULOGY,  this begins with a laid back Hammond organ picking out a groovy tune that soon melts away as it is merely an introduction to a more plaintive and subdued piece that is performed on piano, guitar and lent depth and support by feint comforting strings. The score also contains a number of vocals courtesy of Mary Steenburgen, these include evergreen numbers such as ONLY YOU, YOUR NOBODY TILL SOMEBODY LOVES YOU and I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU, in which the talented actress becomes a just as talented vocalist. I would say that  LAST VEGAS is a score that once listened to will most definitely get its fair share of plays, its easy going, easy listening and so chilled that it is laid back personified. Great stuff… Recommended.