Soundtrack Review: “Stargirl”

With today’s release of Stargirl on Disney+, fans can take the music with them wherever they go with the Stargirl Original Soundtrack, now available from all major streaming providers. It includes new recordings by Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere in addition to score by Rob Simonson. Unlike most soundtracks, which put the songs first and the score later, this release presents all of the tracks in the order they play in the film, with a few bonus tracks just for fun.

We will start with a breakdown of the songs on the album before diving into the score. Track 3 is Grace VanderWaal’s acoustic version of “Be True to Your School” by The Beach Boys. With just her voice and a ukulele, she’s able to create a rousing rendition of the classic song. But the better version is track 9, where she is accompanied by the full marching band, which is my favorite track on the entire soundtrack.

Grace VanderWaal also sings a cover of ‘We Got the Beat” by The Go-Gos, this one with backing vocals from the other cheerleaders and claps and stomps from the crowd. Big Star’s “Thirteen” appears on the album three times, with track 7 including the original recording. Track 10 is a duet between Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere as heard in the film and track 19 is a bonus, a Grace VanderWaal solo just for this album.

The last big cover from the film is Graham Verchere’s version of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars from the climax of the film. I love the arrangement on this version, especially during the bridge when the big band comes in to play the kids out for their conga line through a golf course. It was arranged by Marius de Vries, who also arranged the songs in La La Land, and the bridge has a similar feel to “Another Day of Sun.”

George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” is one of two end credit songs performed by Grace VanderWaal. Her version is an acoustic prayer for peace in times of trial. It’s a very soulful track that changes tempo several times for emotional effect.

Lastly, there’s “Today and Tomorrow,” the pre-release single that sums up the message of the film from Stargirl’s point of view and a Grace VanderWaal original. The lyrics talk about two individuals who were once so close they felt like one person and will never see each other again. The only instrument on the song is Grace’s ukulele. In spite of this, it has a very rich and full sound for such an acoustic release.

Ten score tracks contain selections of Rob Simonsen’s brilliant melodies for the film. His theme for “Leo” kicks things off, starting acoustic and transitioning to more ethereal sounding instruments as Stargirl is introduced. Synthesizers are called into play at times in a way that feels magical, and other world instruments like glockenspiels and shekeres are added on tracks like “Cinnamon.” His score also includes the “Micah Fight Song,” a “Rah, rah, rah” anthem for the marching band to play.

I love all of the music on the Stargirl Original Soundtrack. From excellent covers of classic songs to two new Grace VanderWaal ballads and an ethereal score by Rob Simonsen, it presents 50-minutes of wonderful music that you’ll want to listen to again and again. The wait is over for fans of the Jerry Spinelli novel, who can finally see Stargirl come to life on Disney+ and hear the music anytime they want with this soundtrack release.