Saturday, May 18, 2024

UPDATED Pixar’s Upcoming “Soul” May Have a Problem: No Actual Soul Music, Most of the Artists Included So Far Are White


MONDAY UPDATE: Disney says the Spotify list is user-generated, and that they haven’t announced their soundtrack list yet. But the movie was coming out on June 19th, so they knew the soundtrack a long time ago. But maybe there’s a re-think for the November release.

SUNDAY Everyone’s been looking forward to Pixar’s new movie, called “Soul.” It’s got an all star mostly black cast including Jamie Foxx, and it’s from a favorite director, Pete Docter, of “Up,” “Inside Out,” and “Monsters Inc” fame.

The animated film was supposed to come out this month, but got pushed to November because of the COVID thing. The Cannes Film Festival was going to feature it in May, and announced “Soul” as a selection anyway this month.

But “Soul” is a music movie about a jazz teacher. So you’d think it would have “soul music” or R&B or black artists all over its soundtrack.

Alas, according to Spotify, which has an official “Soul” playlist, there is none of that.

Now Jon Batiste, the great bandleader from Colbert, is said to have written some score music for “Soul.” But the main writers credited are Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails. Accomplished movie score writers, they come from the alternative rock side of the world. Soul music? Nah.

On the Spotify playlist for “Soul” are songs by such well known soul singers — I’m being facetious– as Sam Smith, Demi Lovato, Great Big World, OneRepublic, Kygo and Sasha Sloan, James Arthur, Niall Horan, Troye Sivan, Alesso with Liam Payne.

There are others, not as well known, but none black, or African American, or associated with Soul or R&B or jazz. They are Jon Bellion, Reem, AJR, and Tony K. Selena Gomez, who’s of Mexican heritage, is included.

It doesn’t seem possible that a movie called “Soul” would have no soul music in it, does it? They could have had Jamie Foxx himself, the star of the film, supply music. He’s an accomplished hit maker. Pixar, part of Disney, could have called on their new star, Beyonce. And what a chance to have Terence Blanchard or Herbie Hancock, or someone more contemporary like Frank Ocean. Actually the possibilities are endless for African American composers. Quincy Jones, anyone?

Maybe there’s still time to include some of our great younger jazz musicians’ hits, from people like Andra Day, Anthony Hamilton, Esperanza Spaulding, Ledisi, well, you get the picture. I thought we’d be getting Patti Austin, not One Republic. How about a Marsalis? How about Thom Bell, the great sage of Philly Soul? Smokey Robinson? Maxwell? Valerie Simpson? I could go on and on.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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