The original Pete’s Dragon had an iconic musical identity. Songs like “Candle on the Water,” “Brazzle Dazzle Day,” and “There’s Room for Everyone” had a life beyond the film, earworms that never leave you once you’ve heard them. While the 2016 reimagining doesn’t have quite as strong of a musical identity, the soundtrack from this touching film is bound to find an audience with a memorable score and some touching songs
Taking a diversion from big musical numbers, 2016’s Pete’s Dragon uses folk music to set the tone of its setting, Millhaven. One original folk song bookends the soundtrack the way it does the film, “The Dragon Song.” Elements of it can also be found sprinkled throughout the score that makes up the majority of the soundtrack.
The most listenable song on the soundtrack is “Something Wild,” written and performed by violinist Lindsey Stirling with vocals by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. It’s the end credit anthem in the film, but has been in heavy rotation on my phone since the soundtrack came out. The music video for the song also features two kids on a quest to find Elliott.
Four more folk songs follow before any of the score gets a chance to shine. The Lumineers are the most recognizable name on the soundtrack, performing a song written by co-screenwriter Toby Halbrooks called “Nobody Knows.” The other songs are by St. Vincent, Leonard Cohen and Bosque Brown.
The score by Daniel Hart uses a lot of folk instruments to help establish the setting and tone. The score rangers from sweet and tender to suspenseful and heart racing, matching the story beats of the film. Folk instruments are primarily used to bring his music to life, including more Lindsey Stirling violin within the rest of the soundtrack.
There is an inspiring theme in the score that is often used, along with the melody of “The Dragon Song.” It is most evident in scenes where Pete and Elliott have accomplished something, but if you’re looking for one track that sums it up best, I recommend the final piece of score called “The Bravest Boy I’ve Ever Met.”
After a reprise of “The Dragon Song,” there is one bonus track. I thought it was odd that none of the songs from the original film found their way into this one, not even during the credits. To make amends comes a folk take on “Candle on the Water” by Okkervil River. I’m not sure if this was recorded for the film or just the soundtrack, but it slows the tempo down (if that was even possible) and ends up sounding more painful than uplifting like the song is supposed to be. If you’re a fan of the song, I say stick with Helen Reddy’s or Anneliese Van der Pol’s versions.
Overall, I’m a fan of this Pete’s Dragon soundtrack. Like the film, it’s substantially different from the original, but offers some great folk songs and a beautiful score. But the true star of the album is Lindsey Stirling and her memorable song “Something Wild.”