Michael Giacchino's score for the animated film "Ratatouille" by Brad Bird was released in 2007, in between the short animated film Lifted (Gary Rydstrom, 2006) and a computer game score (Medal of Honor: Airborne, 2007). There seem to be two main genres of cartoon and animation music: the Carl W. Stalling type with their intricate musings and madcap arrangements and a somewhat more traditional style such as Frank Churchill's music for the 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Ratatouille manages to avoid such classification altogether although it does borrow many ideas from all of the above. I guess it is partially down to the film's theme, that of a French rat in Paris wanting to become a chef, that the score has such character, warmth and romance.
The opening track "Le Festin" is completely optional in my opinion. It is performed by French pop chanteuse Camille. Previously to Ratatouille her music appeared in Michael Winterbottom's A Mighty Heart as well as in Ridley Scott's A Good Year (2006). There is a striking resemblance with Katie Melua in both style and voice here. "Welcome to Gusteau's" kick-starts a sucession of 23 tracks that amount to one of the best scores of 2007. In this particular track, the adorable accordion ballads that punctuate the entire release are displayed at their most romantic. That's only the beginning though. We are treated to some amazing jazz moments that throw in many different elements in some rather unusual ways. "This is Me" sounds like one of those dusky and seductive Woody Allen pieces for a minute before bursting into maniac orchestration and then back into the initial pace with tones of Django Reinhardt guitar plucking. Almost all tracks contain the same level of detail and immediacy as this. It is fairly obvious that after listening to the first few tracks of Ratatouille alone, you already know you are in for one hell of a ride.
Calmer cello and violin moments pop-up here and there such as in tracks "Granny Get Your Gun" and "Wall Rat" for instance. I was almost tearful when listening to some of the arrangements and their longing echoed string work. These very moving pieces appear throughout the soundtrack but are often interrupted by more playful tunes. It is all for the best though. The inventiveness keeps on coming. "Colette Shows Him the Ropes" even ventures into Salsa with dashings of violin and accordion to punctuate the dance moves and some very funky bass guitar popping in and out. I've never heard anything quite like this before. It is as if Giacchino was in fact cooking an intricate recipe rather than composing music...maybe the two are related in a strange way; every instrument he can get his hands on goes into the preparation of tracks like "End Creditouilles" and "Remy Drives a Linguini" before he gradually trurns the flame down a bit and throws in a slice of marvellous piano work in the score's last track "Ratatouille's Main Theme".
Listening to this titan of a soundtrack will have you short of breath. There is so much going on and all of it is beautifully executed. This score comes as the highest possible recommendation for ALL soundtrack lovers and music connoisseurs. This soundtrack CD can be previewed at the following online places: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, while you might also want to check out the DVD of at these links Amazon.com (Region 1) and Amazon.co.uk (Region 2). Also look out for the Ratatouille Sheet Music for Piano with lyrics for the songs.