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SWING VOTE – John Debney

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A timely film in Barack Obama’s election year, Swing Vote is a conceptually preposterous but light and breezy comedy directed by Joshua Michael Stern starring Kevin Costner as a good natured blue collar guy who, following an unexpected turn of events, finds himself holding the single deciding vote in the US presidential election, and subsequently being courted by both candidates – incumbent Kelsey Grammar, and challenger Dennis Hopper. The film features a stellar supporting cast (Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez) and a whole host of real life politicos as themselves, notably Arianna Huffington, Larry King, Bill Maher and Chris Matthews.

The score for Swing Vote is by John Debney, who emphasizes the Southern charm of the film by augmenting his traditionally sweet orchestral complement with acoustic and slide guitars, harmonicas, solo fiddles, and various rock/country percussion elements that give the thing a warm, inviting down-home air – cues like “Morning with Bud”, “A Little Too Drunk”, “Bud’s First Interview” and the groovy “You’re Richard Petty” highlight these elements well.

The “Main Titles” contain a lovely main theme to underscore the relationship between Costner and his character’s daughter; the scenes involving the political shenanigans and presidential candidates have a slightly more martial, beefier orchestral sound, with noble brasses (“Going Live”), intimate string writing (“This is America”), and energetic scherzos (“The Strategy of Winning”) which are a lot of fun, and there is a pretty piano-and-guitar combo in “I Do This For You” which stands as an album highlight.

The finale, beginning with “Learning Montage” and concluding with “Bud’s Speech”, is a delightful slice of old fashioned Americana that starts out with a beautiful, yearning fiddle solo and ends up with the kind of wonderfully stirring full orchestral piece that one often expects to hear in films about American presidents.

Swing Vote is an innocuous, enjoyable, but ultimately inconsequential score, a minor work in Debney’s filmography, but an agreeably diverting way to spend an hour or so if you can track it down. The soundtrack for Swing Vote was not released as a physical CD commercially in stores, and is only available as an iTunes exclusive download.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Swing Vote Main Titles (1:20)
  • Why We Vote (0:29)
  • Morning With Bud (0:41)
  • Going Live (1:30)
  • All Across the Country (1:31)
  • A Little Too Drunk (1:10)
  • Molly Votes (2:04)
  • Bud Ponders (0:34)
  • The Count Continues (3:09)
  • I Do This For You (2:23)
  • Bud Sees Reporters (0:45)
  • He Didn’t Vote! (2:13)
  • Bud’s First Interview (2:33)
  • Ride Home With Molly (1:51)
  • Real Issues, Real People (3:32)
  • You’re Richard Petty (1:55)
  • Bud and Molly Talk (1:09)
  • Bud Takes a Break (0:42)
  • Party for Bud (1:11)
  • Molly’s My Daughter (1:39)
  • The Strategy of Winning (1:12)
  • Letters Come in Bunches (0:28)
  • Illegal Alien Commercial (0:54)
  • This is America (1:44)
  • Molly Visits Her Mom (1:30)
  • Learning Montage (2:33)
  • The Debate Begins (1:12)
  • Bud’s Speech (3:56)
  • Bud’s Speech Alternative Ending (1:40)

Running Time: 54 minutes 13 minutes

iTunes Exclusive Download (2008)

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