The team behind Disney's Wreck-It Ralph, the tale of a video game villain who wants to go good, committed to authenticity at every level of the movie, from including Q-Bert and and Clyde (aka the orange ghost from Pac-Man) as minor characters to making sure the film's music conveyed the golden age of arcade games and the feel of the games that followed. Wreck-It-Ralph shows that composer Henry Jackman and the other artists featured here did an impressive job of capturing that spirit without getting geeky enough to alienate anyone not steeped in gamer culture. That said, this soundtrack relishes that culture, most notably on "Wreck-It, Wreck-It-Ralph" by Buckner & Garcia, the duo who had their fingers on the pulse of the early '80s with "Pac-Man Fever." While "Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph" isn't quite as charmingly wacky as its predecessor, it still harks back to a time when a hit song could be written about a video game, instead of a game including a hit song on its soundtrack. Elsewhere, the J-pop group AKB48 embodies the kawaii feel of many Japanese games with the theme song for the candy-based racing game "Sugar Rush," while Skrillex's "Bug Hunt (Noisia Remix)" delivers a more-than-reasonable facsimile of the tense, aggressive music that soundtracks the first-person shooters of the 21st century. Jackman's score mostly follows suit, especially when it incorporates electronic elements as on "Royal Raceway"'s bleepy synth-pop paradise, the brilliantly rudimentary 8-bit doodles of "Life in the Arcade," or the relentless beat of "Rocket Fiasco." However, Jackman's music also relies heavily on orchestral arrangements that, while perfectly effective and even inspired in some cases ("Vanellope von Schweetz"'s playful pauses and dynamics recall the way Looney Tunes used these kind of cues) aren't quite as distinctive as an all- or mostly electronic score would have been. While Wreck-It-Ralph misses out on being a Tron for the preteen set, the soundtrack still scores high when it comes to playfulness and devotion to its subject matter.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
feat: Buckner & Garcia