The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Toy Story 4 features over an hour of new music, including two brand new songs written for the film and new musical themes that interplay with the well established melodies from the franchise. If you’re a fan of Randy Newman or the score from the Toy Story films, you won’t want to wait another second to dive into the music on this release.
The album begins with three songs from the film, starting with “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” As far as I can tell, it’s the same recording from 1995 from the original film, which makes sense as it plays over a montage that recaps Woody’s life up to the start of the film. It can be assumed that if you’re listening to the soundtrack to Toy Story 4, you probably own this track already.
Next up are the two new songs, starting with “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” sung by Randy Newman. It’s a very jazzy song that tonally feels like it could’ve been in The Princess and the Frog, although the lyrics are unique to Woody’s relationship with Forky. I didn’t love it when I heard it in the film, but it plays really well apart from the film and it’s really grown on me.
The third song is called “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” performed by Chris Stapleton, which plays over the end credits. This is the better of the two new songs and it also gets a reprise on the soundtrack at the end with a Randy Newman version. If either is to be nominated for Best Song, it’s this one, although that is likely a stretch. Stapleton’s smooth, gritty voice works perfectly for this song.
The first score track begins with the orchestration that plays over the Walt Disney Pictures intro, which is a nice inclusion. Throughout the twenty-two score tracks on the soundtrack, Randy Newman pulls established melodies from the three previous films and uses them effectively. But there are a few new melodies to be found interspersed between.
The most memorable of the new melodies is the one that underscores Woody and Bo Peep’s relationship. You start to get elements of it at the end of the first score track, “Operation Pulltoy.” It gets played in a more lighthearted way on tracks like “Bo Peep’s Panorama for Two,” but is more often somber and subdued, particularly in one of the final tracks, “Parting Gifts & New Horizons.”
Another new arrangement becomes a theme for Bonnie, first appearing on “School Daze.” It’s another sweet melancholic melody. But the most whimsical of the new melodies is a theme for Forky, best featured on “Trash Can Chronicles.” At times, it sounds like a marriage between Randy Newman and Danny Elfman’s style. Gabby Gabby also gets a theme that is light, bouncy, and airy. Duke Kaboom also has somewhat of an adventure theme that reappears during several tracks involving him.
The new themes are great and become more memorable with successive listens, but part of the masterwork of Randy Newman’s process is the way he intercuts them with the well established music and even transforms them into countermelodies. Most brilliantly, the theme for Woody’s relationship with Bo Peep morphs into the somber melody from Toy Story 3 that defined Woody’s separation from Andy at the end.
Randy Newman’s new themes from Toy Story 4 will make you feel every possible emotion while listening to the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. It will fill you with goosebumps over and over again while listening to this wonderful music apart from the film. If you’re like me, you will want to immediately see Toy Story 4 and this soundtrack will tide you over until your next adventure with Woody, Forky, and Bo Peep.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.