While Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson has been scoring movies since 2008, it wasn’t until his stint with Black Panther in 2018 that people started to sit up and take serious notice. Before that he was more known as a Hip Hop/R&B producer and a long-time collaborator of American rapper Childish Gambino. His work with Black Panther was novel and compelling; he got most of his inspiration by going on tour with Senegalese musician Baaba Maal to record hours of African percussion and chorals. The result is an expert marriage of Western Orchestral music and African drumming, peppered with Trap beats to taste. All this work not only underscored the movie brilliantly but also won him both a Grammy and Academy Award for Best Score for Visual Media.
One could argue that it is through Black Panther's success that he gained more opportunities to score A-list films, including Marvel Universe’s Venom, Disney’s The Mandalorian and now Christopher Nolan’s upcoming TENET. It reportedly took Nolan more than five years to write the screenplay after deliberating about Tenet's central ideas for over a decade. That makes perfect sense, as the trailer seethes with his brand of mind-bending storytelling.
Psst don’t worry if you can’t figure out what the plot is about, neither can I.
Assuming that every producer has his own sonic signature, could we back-tag Göransson’s scores of the past 5 films to predict what TENET would sound like? Let us take a look at what the AI tells us when we tag and analyse all 106 film scores, from Black Panther all through Creed II.
- Black Panther (Superhero Action, 28 tracks)
- Death Wish (Action Thriller, 20 tracks)
- Slice (Horror Comedy, 22 tracks)
- Venom (Superhero Action, 18 tracks)
- Creed II (Sports Drama, 17 tracks)
Prediction #1 - Expect the soundtrack to consist mostly of Electronic and Classical influences.
While John Williams and Hans Zimmer often command great presence on the conductor podium, Göransson is most in his element when he is tinkering alone in his studio and as such, Electronic music lends a heavier hand in his compositions.
Though it is not unlike Göransson to include other popular genres if it makes sense in the film. Black Panther has a recurring Trap motif whenever Killmonger enters the scene, Slice’s “Dax Lycander” is a Synthwave-inspired song while “Time Tick” is thick with Tessa Thompson’s soothing R&B crooning. So expect other popular genre influences in TENET’s music as well, a dash of personality in a sea of orchestral film music.
Prediction #2 - The Tenet soundtrack will project a tense, dramatic and scary atmosphere.
It's interesting that in direct contrast to popular music, negative moods such as tense, dramatic, scary and dark are more favoured in films? You will rarely find this in the top hits of popular music, whether it is in current weekly Billboard Charts or across 3 decades.
'Mood Valence' shows that less than 1% of Göransson’s past 5 films are positive, leaning more heavily on negative and neutral valence. Of course, this may just be dependent on this specific brand of movies Göransson is commissioned to do, and we may expect the charts to look completely different if he were to work on say, Comedies or Disney animated movies.
Prediction #3 - TENET may not have many energetic scores.
This is based on the analysis of both Energy and BPM charts. Not only do Medium and Low energy tracks account for more than half of the discography (68.9%), the beats per minute of these tracks hover at the lower register of 60 to 100.
Prediction #4 - TENET film scores will stay relatively consistent, energy-wise.
It is quite unusual in film music to see that all of the tracks either have small or medium energy variation, when cinematic music is often quite dynamic - starting soft and slow, gradually building up into a crescendo of intensity. More than half of Göransson’s film discography has small variations in energy - could this be an influence from his work with popular music? If so, this could be a Goransson’s “sonic signature”, a characteristic that is unique in his music.
Prediction #5 - Instrumental tracks will dominate the TENET film score, with only a handful of vocal tracks sprinkled in.
A prominent and common component in film music, we project that TENET would consist mainly of instrumental tracks, even up to 93%. Some examples of songs in his discography that are vocal-driven includes:
- Black Panther - “Wakanda”
- Black Panther - “A King’s Sunset”
- Creed II - “Adonis and Amara”
- Creed II - “I Will Go To War”
- Creed II - “Ice Cold”
- Creed II - “Running (ft. ASAP Rocky)”
- Creed II - “Time Tick”
Our Predictions In A Nutshell
Will we be right? Or would TENET blow all our expectations out of the water? That my friends, we shall find out very soon.