Laugh Tracks 101
by Becca Gleason on September 28, 2010
TV Premiere week is over so I would like to congratulate all shows, new and old, that eluded cancellation. You might be wondering what this has to do with music, so let me fill you in: Community has returned for its second season after releasing the first season’s DVD and NEW ALBUM (!!) If you haven’t seen the show yet, I highly suggest you crawl out from under that rock and start watching as soon as possible. It might seem like a publicity stunt on my part, but I’m plugging Community because I love it with all of my heart.
The Community soundtrack is self indulgent in the best way possible: skirting the indie bands-hipster cred route (*cough* Twilight *cough*), it is a homemade collection of irreverent comedy, original songs, and quaint arrangements by the show’s cast and composer, Ludwig Goransson. In short, the soundtrack is quirky, in-character, and lovable.
To start, we have two over-the-top songs by Chevy Chase, who plays our Pierce Hawthorne, the old, rich and slightly racist addition to the show. He could turn the most depressing song into a comedy routine, which may or may not have been the goal with his cover of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is”. Other cast member appearances include the lovely Yvette Nicole Brown, who adds a touch of holiday spirit to the album with “Sensitive Night” paralleling wonderfully with the show’s only blatantly religious character, Shirley. Danny Pudi and Donald Glover (a Nerdist Podcast alum) expose a sensitive side when they cover “Somewhere Out There” but redeem their masculinity with their viral “Spanish Rap”, giving the world what it needed – a modern day odd couple. (Side note: if you caught the premiere, Donald and Danny do a new and improved rap with an agile Betty White.) Not to mention the hilarious additions by Jacques Slade and Eric Olsen. The most accessible comparison I can draw is to a Flight Of The Concords album, except the cast of Community already had a show before they released music.
To fill in the gaps between raps and ballads, the show’s go-to composer Ludwig Goransson comes to the forefront with a keen ear for the themes and moods of the show. Tracks like “Community Medley” simply enhance the video with adorable melodies that are hard to get out of your head. But Goransson can get serious too. “Episode 119 Medley,” is the musical bed of my favorite episode, “Modern Warfare”, where the gang gets into an intense paintball fight-to-the-death. It mixes the brooding sounds of horns and strings, and could easily be played in the next Batman movie trailer if Hans didn’t already call dibbs.
So even though this weekly album choice was not entirely logical, the musical part of my brain wants to share the awesomeness that is the Community soundtrack. You will love it because the music is quirky, sincere, and lovable, just like Abed… and Betty White.