Saturday, December 7, 2013

I See Fire

As "An Unexpected Journey" solidifies itself more and more as my favorite of Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth films to date, and as I hear more hypocritical criticisms about it (too clean? Did you SEE Radagast covered in bird poo?!) and calls for "redemption," I'm convinced that Jackson's Tolkien saga is shaping up to be the new Star Wars.

I wish him all the luck in the world, I really do. The LotR films are fantastic, and in spite of what people are saying the Hobbit films are also. Yeah, I don't care if only one is out yet, I can tell. It's just a question of exactly how awesome at this point.

But I'm not exactly enamored of the prospect of having to smack people upside the head (verbally, of course) about another set of long-awaited prequels that somehow disappointed people despite doing exactly what they needed to do. And I really hope that this gets nipped in the bud before it turns into a full-on I-III situation. The positive and negative are pretty equal right now, but then again it was the same with Phantom at this point in the releases.

But I'll get into all that another time, I'm sure. Today, I wanted to talk about a specific little teaser for the upcoming "Desolation of Smaug" - The song.

You guys should know by now that I try hard to avoid spoilers. Sometimes, however, they are unavoidable. The other day, while looking up lyrics and analysis for "Song of the Lonely Mountain," I stumbled across this video Peter Jackson himself posted on YouTube: a sneak peek at Desolation's end credits song, "I See Fire."

Now, for the moment, I'm going to ignore the battling megaphones of "BEST SONG EVA" vs. "PETER AND ED MOLESTED MY ADOLESCENCE" and just give you my own personal take on this song, hearing it quite by accident and out of context.

When I first heard it, I didn't quite like it. I didn't hate it, but I sensed too much of a pop sensibility in Ed's vocal style for normal Middle-Earth fare.


I decided to give it another shot....then another...then another...and the more I listen to it, the more I actually love this song.

It is still a different take from what we're used to on the Tolkien films, but it's not too different. Actually, I realized something rather brilliant regarding that. "May it Be", "Gollum's Song", and "Into the West" all have a very Elvish feel to them (well, one could argue the latter two being Hobbit-like, but "May it Be" is pure Elf). By contrast, both "I See Fire" and "Song of the Lonely Mountain" are extremely Dwarvish songs, which is much more appropriate for these films for obvious reasons.

Also, maybe it's just my being raised on Rankin-Bass' animated Hobbit, but I've always associated warbly male vocals and acoustic guitars with the story. Both "Mountain" and "Fire" deliver this as well.

All in all, this is a very emotional and fairly memorable song, and given what I know of the part of the Hobbit story that needs to be covered here, this seems like the perfect kind of song for it. And now I REALLY can't wait for "Desolation of Smaug."

P.S. For the detractors:

1. "Gollum's Song" was also robbed for an Oscar nod, so don't use the fact that "Mountain" was also overlooked as proof that the newer films aren't as good.

2. For all those "May it Be" fanatics, I'm sorry but it's my least favorite of the end credits songs to date. Always has been. You want to talk about forgettable? I made it a point to learn all three (soon six) songs, and I still have trouble with "May it Be." "Gollum's Song" was the first one that really stuck out to me and I fell in love with it instantly, and "West" and "Mountain" followed suit. Yes, it took me a few listens to get into "Fire," but I still like it better than "May." On the other hand, to be fair, "May" has grown on me too, and I do genuinely like it, but it's still my least favorite so far.

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