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Eddie the Eagle (Matthew Margeson)

March 6, 2016

Cover_EddieTheEagleEDDIE THE EAGLE

Matthew Margeson, 2016, Varese Sarabande
21 tracks, 54:54

You see that cover? Looks pretty dire, doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought so too. Couldn’t possibly have a cool score, could it? Yeah. I was wrong too. The score is awesome.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher and co-produced by Matthew Vaughn, this is the story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Taron Egerton starts as Eddie, whilst Hugh Jackman stars as his coach (this bit is fictional). The original score is by Matthew Margeson, who previously worked on the “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service” movies (where he met Fletcher and Vaughn, hence his involvement here).

What does it sound like?

Damn you, Margeson – stop pressing my buttons! This score is ridiculously good fun. It’s also really cool if you’re a bit into synth, as I am. After a mostly atmospheric opening cue (though there are some heralding trumpets towards the end of it) we come to a cracker of track called “Eddie the Eagle”. The synth arpeggio instantly recalls Vangelis’ work on “Chariots of Fire”, but that feeling off “oh no, here we go again” only lasts a few seconds. Chimes come in and play a slowed-down version of the main theme – one of them, anyway. Then electric piano comes in to play the other main theme (this one a little more aloof than the first – and both are catchy and memorable). Acoustic piano enters the fray and performs the first theme again – and although the theme is (no doubt: deliberately) simplistic, it sounds heart-warmingly sincere. And then things start to get seriously cool, as a warm, soft yet bouncy arpeggio fades in (I wanna say it’s a poly-synth, like I know what I’m on about) , drums kick in (including some lovely 80s fill-ins) and the main theme receives a gloriously cheesy performance. After that, the arpeggios keep on going and Margeson plays a few beautiful, warm chords. Exactly my kind of chords. I don’t often go into this much details – and this is just one cue! – but I just adore every single element about it. The melodies, the sounds, the cheesiness without being ridiculous. You can play this at my funeral and I’d be happy (well… I’d be dead and indifferent, but at least the guests can have a chuckle).

“We wanted to create a period score for Eddie,” Margeson described. “The film is set in the ‘80s and the goal was to create a throwback ‘80s score. I knew it was going to be a fun task from the get-go and it was. I ended up going on craigslist and eBay and getting a bunch of old digital synthesizers from the time period. I played all of the keyboards, and did the programming of the synths myself. We did have some guitar and bass players, and some live woodwinds for a few of the emotional moments.”

The whole score revolves around these 80s and 90s synths and percussion with the odd electric guitar. My favourite poly-synth bit returns again in “I’m Going to the Olympics” along with Eddie’s aloof theme. It appears again in “Matti at Garnisch” (the panning is a nice touch), this time accompanied by a very 80s theme, replete with percussive hits and electric guitar. It actually sounds sort-of sporty. Of course, Margeson is deliberately going for the pastiche treatment, but he’s actually done incredibly well and created something that sounds genuine.

During “Eddie Gets a Taste” I get to tap my feet again, if only briefly; whilst “Up Back Forward Down” sounds genuinely melancholy, until the synth arpeggios fade back in and the main theme make a heroic appearance. In “Eddie Attempts the 70m” electric piano and bass create a typical 80s ‘mysterious’ mood. creaming electric guitars, thumping basses and cheesy fill-ins make up “Fist of Glory”; whilst cues like “The Teaching Text” and “Seniors Tournament” are a bit more suspenseful. “Oberstdorf” is the album’s longest cue and gets to tell quite the story. It starts of sporty and exciting, though I’m sensing a slight hint of dread (and more than a hint of Zimmer’s “Days of Thunder”); but the second half is a sombre affair for piano and soft synths. I’m guessing Oberstdorf didn’t go well for Eddie.

“First Jump at Calgary” opens with a brass fanfare and synth arpeggio. There’s gotta be an announcement over the Tannoy system here; the music seems to accommodate it just perfectly. The cue then continues to build to an exciting rendition of the main theme featuring electric guitar. “Eddie Announcement” is largely atmospheric, but during the second half a theme starts to materialise, a soft string ostinato fades in along with march-like snares. It’s incredibly effective, as it sounds so steadfast and determined.

Fans of the 80s stuff will enjoy the electric guitar and various ‘classic’ eighties synth-sounds in “Matti’s Gold Jump”. You would expect “Eddie Jumps the 90m” to sound epic and it does! There’s quite a lot going on, and I’ll spare you all the details this time, but by Jove I love every single note and sound of it. The opening reminds me a little of Underworld’s work for the 2012 Olympics, which may or may not be coincidental. The album concludes with “Now the Real Work Begins”. In all my excitement, I forgot to mention that there are a few woodwinds fragments scattered throughout the score. Along with the acoustic piano and soft strings they add a real warmth (oh go on… and ‘humanity’) to the score. But the cue finishes with a sort-of poppy version of the main theme. Hans Zimmer, Mark Mancina, Trevor Rabin… you name ‘m, all these people and their respective styles come to mind. And I’ll state the obvious: if you enjoyed his work on “Kick-Ass” then you’re bound to love this, although it is much more synthy and a little less bombastic, though no less catchy and upbeat.

Is it any good?

Matthew Margeson’s “Eddie the Eagle” is incredibly good fun and uplifting. It’s retro, but not cheesy (despite me using that word earlier). Well… it is, and it isn’t. It’s not silly. Certainly not silly-silly. And clearly it’s not to be taken too seriously either. Except for the fact that it’s so incredibly well done. Production values are top-notch. It’s got a really big, rich, warm sound to it, but in a very tightly controlled manner. The sound, the style, the melodies, all of it sounds pretty genuine for the era it represents.  In fact, it reminds me a lot of scores like Zimmer’s “Days of Thunder” and “Toys”.

The synths, I gotta mention the synths again. As an amateur composer I’m intrigued by all the sounds Margeson has used here. It’s a wonderful palette of warm, bubbly and fuzzy sounds. And you know what… I’m just gonna go ahead and say this: there is another score out there at the moment that also relies heavily on retro synths and also tries to be cool and funny. That score is surrounded with a tonne of hype – and completely and utterly failed to live it up to it. I’m talking about “Deadpool”. Margeson’s “Eddie the Eagle” wipes the floor with JXL’s latest effort. It then continues to wipe the windows, the patio, mows the lawn and washes the car with it. If you want a score that has that retro synthy sound, that’s cool and a bit cheesy, but not too silly, and that actually has a few catchy melodies that drive the whole thing forward and give it coherency… then this is it. Can I really justify giving nearly 5 stars to a cheesy retro score? F**k yes I can.

Rating [4.5/5]


01. Champion! (1:30)
02. Eddie The Eagle (5:10)
03. What Goes Up Must Come Down (2:17)
04. I’m Going To The Olympics (1:35)
05. Matti At Garmisch (1:07)
06. Warren Sharp (1:51)
07. Eddie Gets A Taste (1:14)
08. Up Back Forward Down (2:50)
09. Eddie Attempts the 70m (3:20)
10. The Teaching Text (2:58)
11. Fist of Glory (1:49)
12. Seniors Tournament (1:57)
13. Oberstdorf (5:23)
14. A Sporting Chance (1:11)
15. First Jump At Calgary (3:25)
16. Press Montage (1:16)
17. Eddie’s Announcement (3:07)
18. Peary’s Return (2:50)
19. Matti’s Gold Jump (2:18)
20. Eddie Jumps The 90m (3:37)
21. Now The Real Work Begins (5:04)

Review (C) 2016 Synchrotones

  1. Morgan Joylighter permalink

    I think it’s shameful that you give almost 5 stars to this….thing.

    … should have given it a full 5 damn it! 😉

  2. Sanchit Varma permalink

    This is the kind of score that out of the blue just slaps you on the face with just how much fun, exciting, cheesy (in the best way possible) and still incredibly heartfelt it is.

    We need more scores like this which are honest and engaging. Best score of 2016? Possibly. Most fun? Hell yeah.

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