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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dig Those Jazzy Jams, My Good Hotman

(Is that Fire Nation reference too A:TLA for this post? Meh. Still not half as zany as something Varrick would say!)

As I'm watching the latest hour-long episode of Legend of Korra - spoiler alert: it's a great one! - I realize that I've yet to talk about one of the strongest aspects of the series. That is, the music! The soundtrack is one that Korra fans had to fight for so Nickelodeon would sell it commercially, since there had been issues with money and the score's release possibly not making enough sales to make it worthwhile. But the original score that was crafted for Korra and made it to the TV screen was deemed worthy of throwing our money at gladly.

It made a good series great, adding that audio layer of depth to a colorful visual series. I can't imagine Legend of Korra sounding the same as the original Avatar series! Some shows just really need a good jazz ensemble to get things started.

Jeremy Zuckerman is the composer behind the music of Korra. If his name sounds familiar, it should! Zuckerman did the music for the original Avatar series as well. There are, however, distinct differences between his style for A:TLA and his style for Korra. His style of music for Korra is a blend of the traditional and the modern, a mash-up of roaring twenties' jazz and old school Chinese string instruments.

The theme song to Korra is the best example of how the score respects the original Avatar series while making its own path. It shares the same opening sequence that runs during the show of past Avatars, and then breaks into its own unique sound, resplendent with flutes and strong drum beats and a touch of the harmonic choral.

The score for Korra perfectly fits with the spirit of the series, especially Republic City, which is moving into the industrial era while still embracing the traditional design of past eras. "Left My Heart In Republic City" is the perfect theme for the city's aesthetic and attitude. It definitely sounds like something Korra would hear on the radio while waiting to listen to a pro-bending match.

And then we have sharp, dramatic tracks like "Amon" and "Chi Blockers", which are used during certain scenes about - well, Amon and the chi blockers! It adds that element of danger and action to the background of every scene they are used in. Plus, Amon's theme is so distinctive, you always know he'll show up thanks to the music playing right before he shows his masked face. His theme really encapsulates his character, dark and brooding but quick to move between notes, and always that heavy drum beat, like Amon's feet moving across the floor as he hastens to steal another person's bending.

This is a score definitely worth putting in your personal collection, even if you're not a soundtrack kind of person. The score to the first season of the Legend of Korra is currently available on CD and via mp3 purchase.