With today’s news of the split of French electronic musical duo, Daft Punk, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what is likely their biggest contribution to Disney fans, the music of TRON: Legacy.
TRON: Legacy, the long-awaited sequel to 1982’s TRON, was released after much fanfare and hype (especially from the Comic-Con crowd) in 2010. The film follows the adult son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who responds to a cryptic message from his long-lost father that was sent to Kevin’s old friend, Allen Bradley. At his dad’s old arcade, where the message came from, Sam finds himself in his father’s hidden office booting up his dad’s computer system, inadvertently beaming him into “The Grid,” where his father has been trapped for decades. Sam, his father, and a mysterious program named Quorra (Olivia Wilde) all must now escape whilst stopping his father’s creation, Clu, from leaving the digital realm and invading the real world.
The film was met with mixed reviews upon its debut, mostly praising the beautiful visuals and production design, but sharply criticizing the characters and story. That doesn’t mean that the film wasn’t a hit with many fans, as it was, but one of the things that is universally loved and celebrated about TRON: Legacy is its amazing soundtrack, composed by Daft Punk.
First approached in 2007 by the film’s producers, Daft Punk was picked the film’s director, Joseph Kosinski, because “rather than going with a traditional film composer, I wanted to try something fresh and different.” Kosinski was also interested because of their work on side projects like their film, Electroma. It wasn’t until 2008 that the pair was finally done touring and were able to take part in the film’s production, where they worked alongside composer Joseph Trapanese and music supervisor Jason Bentley. Kosinski also told MTV.com that the duo were big fans of the original TRON, and that their initial meeting “was almost like they were interviewing me to make sure that I was going to hold up to the TRON legacy.”
The score is different from previous works by the duo, putting more of an emphasis on the orchestral elements than leaving everything solely with a synthesizer. One half of the duo, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo told NME, “We knew from the start that there was no way that we were going to do this film score with two synthesizers and a drum machine.” Kosinki even included the musicians in the final film, appearing as the DJs at Castor/Zuse’s (Michael Sheen) End Of Line club, where the single “Derezzed” is prominently featured.
The sole single from the film, “Derezzed” (music video above) was released by Walt Disney Records ahead of the film, while the full album reportedly sold 71,000 copies in its first week in the United States, eventually peaking at #6 on the Billboard 200. An album of remixes by popular DJs was released in 2011, TRON: Legacy R3configur3d, near when the film was released on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Despite the duo providing the entire soundtrack for the film, the single “Derezzed” is most commonly heard and associated with the film, even appearing in the park for shows like “Disney Movie Magic” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which featured a TRON: Legacy segment seven years after the film was released.
Nearer to the release of the film, more of the soundtrack was featured as part of what was affectionately called the “TRON-core,” an additional sequence to Disney California Adventure’s World of Color that was added temporarily after the finale of the main show to promote the new film.
Video Courtesy The Disneyland Gazette
The look of the film, as well as its musical influence also played a huge part in the popular ElecTRONica event that also took place at Disney California Adventure, which thanks to the lights, lasers, music remixes, and design inspired by the End Of Line club from the film, had unknowing guests calling it “Disneyland’s Rave.”
Video Courtesy of the Disneyland Gazette
The soundtrack is also featured as on-board ride audio for TRON: Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disneyland, and will likely be prominent in TRON: Lightcycle / Run when it debuts at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in the future, well over a decade after the original film on which it is based was released.
While the film is a fan-favorite, Daft Punk’s soundtrack could truly be the legacy of TRON: Legacy, as ten years later it still gets rereleased on various formats, including special anniversary vinyls, as well as full complete track listings on most streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music that feature tracks that were rarely heard or previously unheard outside of the film itself. Limited edition reissues of the soundtrack have also sold out within minutes of becoming available, proving that while the film may be stuck in the digital frontier, the soundtrack will stand the test of time.
More TRON: Legacy archival footage: