A movie about nerds? Cool ones? With electronic music?! Hell ya. I’m happy to say that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score for The Social Network received an “O” for Outstanding. Who cares if my grading scales reference Harry Potter? The fact of the matter is, Reznor and Ross’ soundtrack did exactly what John Williams’ did for Harry Potter. It created a musical flow of emotions that perfectly accompanied the world in which it was perceived.
When I asked my nerd-brother Matt what he thought of the pair’s arrangements, he responded with, “It was very Trent Reznor-y”. And as much as I would like to leave it at that, the score has achieved something that electronic scores been trying to for years: relevance. They have just as much credibility in studio features as classical, modern, or popular music. Matt’s invented adjective, “Reznor-y” has opened a new door for how I think of electronic scores.
Firstly, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin are fuckin’ G’s. The Social Network beautifully depicted a story that was close to impossible to portray in a cinematically intriguing way. It was able to tightly package the complicated and very tangled web that Mark Zukerburg wove and capture the attention of millions. My normally very short attention span was consistently captivated by the eclectic arrangements of Reznor and Ross. Without their score, the movie would have lost its fluidity to the striking alienation one feels towards such an incomprehensibly dense leading man.
The music complemented the visual components of the movie by aurally replicating themes of innovation and daring ambitions. When Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) first envisioned Facebook, a natural, fast-paced 8-bit piece begins to play, appropriately titled “In Motion”. Equally fitting is what I like to call the “everything turns to shit” music. The composers deftly capture the anxiety of failure and heart-wrenching messiness in “Hand Covers Bruise” and it’s subsequent reprise. The stimulating qualities of this arrangement are the mixture of classical instruments with computer-generated sounds. It’s perfectly timed and the cues come and go where they should, the only difference is that their isn’t your average swell of strings or visceral horns to velcro you to the uncomfortable chair you paid 10-15 dollars to sit in. Its the grungy, tonal beeps and drones that were perfect for a story about computer hacking, code writing, and their moral consequences.
The score might not leave you with the profound impact that films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, or even Marry Poppins did. But The Social Network presented a uniquely modern story in classical terms which the score highlighted shot by shot. With this, and Daft Punk’s new score for Tron Legacy, I sincerely hope the term “Reznor-y” becomes something we hear more often.