Exploring Soundtracks: Home Alone

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Today in Exploring Soundtracks, we’re going to start getting a little festive. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the weather is terrible and Amazon gets a massive influx of Prime orders. So to take our minds off of all this, let’s go back to a simpler time, when Macaulay Culkin was young and mischievous and innocent.

Home Alone is one of those classic Christmas movies that I grew up with that put in my head all sorts of terrible ideas. For starters, I was insanely jealous of Kevin McCallister’s sweet set-up. He had the tree house and everything.

But aside from all the inspiring pranks, Home Alone is full of a selection of festive Christmas music, as well as a great score by John Williams. So we’ll leave the talk of pranks at the door for now, and turn our attention to the music.

Home Alone

The most recognizable work that John Williams brought to the film is “Theme From Home Alone (“Somewhere in My Memory”). In a way, this is the musical backbone of the entire film, and was written to run alongside it. Throughout the movie, snippets of “Somewhere in My Memory” will play, either the full length, or in fragments connecting scenes. The song was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, though didn’t end up winning.

One of the most iconic scenes in Home Alone comes in the morning after Kevin thinks his wish came true, and his family has disappeared. The Drifters’ vocal version of “White Christmas” sets the background for the famous shaving scene, when Kevin slaps on the aftershave and makes the “oh no” face in the mirror. To this day, I still associate the “duh, duh, duh DUH” with that scene.

Another iconic scene that comes to mind comes right after Kevin sets all of his traps for the bandits, and decides to go on a little stroll. He comes upon a church with a nativity scene set up, and goes inside to hear the choir singing, “O Holy Night”.

After a surprisingly pleasant conversation with the old man who shovels around the neighborhood, Kevin hears the cue of bells tolling and sprints back home. His journey back is joined by another Christmas classic, “Carol of the Bells”. This sets a nice, ominous tone for Kevin’s fore-coming confrontation with the robbers. And of course, it hits the Christmas theme hard.

A Very Polka Christmas

One of the more charming and fun scenes in Home Alone comes when Mrs. McCallister hitches a ride with the jolly Gus (John Candy), the Polka King of the Midwest. Gus is the friendly neighbor willing to help out a stranger in need. But he’s also a clarinet playing, polka-loving carpool-er. The whole package.

During Mrs. McCallister’s ride-along, Gus and his band, “The Kenosha Kickers” play a polka rendition of “Deck the Halls”. While it’s arguably the least musically-pleasant song to listen to in the film, it’s at least a Christmas song. And it can be nice to hear one in a unique style, even if that style happens to be polka, of all things. The devil’s music. And if you don’t believe me, someone on Reddit already broke down this whole scene, convinced that John Candy’s character is a crossroads demon.

 

Track List

  1. Theme from Home Alone (“Somewhere in My Memory”) – 4:53
  2. “Holiday Flight” – 0:59
  3. “The House” – 2:27
  4. “Star of Bethlehem” – 2:51
  5. “Man of the House” – 4:33
  6. “White Christmas” – The Drifters 2:40
  7. “Scammed by a Kindergartner” – 3:55
  8. “Please Come Home for Christmas” – Southside Johnny Lyon 2:41
  9. “Follow That Kid!” – 2:03
  10. “Making the Plane” – 0:52
  11. “O Holy Night” (“Cantique de Noël”) – 2:48
  12. “Carol of the Bells” – 1:25
  13. “Star of Bethlehem” – 2:59
  14. “Setting the Trap” – 2:16
  15. “Somewhere in my Memory” – 1:04
  16. “The Attack on the House” – 6:53
  17. “Mom Returns and Finale” – 4:19
  18. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Mel Tormé 3:05
  19. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” / “End Title” – 4:15
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