Exploring Soundtracks: John Wick

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm41isPMYhY

The music to the original “John Wick” has everything you want in an action movie soundtrack.

Lately, we’ve been bouncing around from genre to genre without much cohesion from week to week. Because of this, we’ll be grouping our next three articles together by looking at every single John Wick soundtrack. I know. I’m excited too.

The soundtrack for the first John Wick film, released in 2014, features an original score written and composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard. Along with a complete score, the soundtrack also includes music performed by The Candy Shop Boys, M86 & Susie Q, and Ciscandra Nostalghia.

But before we get into the soundtrack itself, here’s a quick recap of the plot for those who either haven’t seen “John Wick”, or just need a quick refresher.

Synopsis

“John Wick” follows the story of, you guessed it, John Wick, starring the elegant Keanu Reeves as the former assassin Mr. Wick himself. After John Wick’s wife dies, the last gift she gives him is a cute little puppy. But when his home is later broken into, his car stolen, and his dog killed, John Wick goes on a murderous rampage for revenge.

John Wick

The original motion picture soundtrack to “John Wick” is full of music with nods to both modern techno and classic rock. With heavy, bass-driven dance tracks to accompany the action sequences, and soothing, ambient synth strings to serve as flavorful contrast, the music becomes a character in itself.

One of these ambient synth moments can be spotted early in the film, as John Wick flashes back to his wife’s death. As he stands over her hospital bed, the rhythmic heart monitor beeping fades into one sustained synth tone that blends in with a swell of strings as the flashback ends.

In the first scene in which we see John Wick going back to his old ways, the music matches the action on screen beat for beat. When Wick pauses behind a corner and reloads, it falls silent, or to nothing more than a single, unsettling synth tone. As soon as he springs into action, distorted synths and heavy drums punctuate each gunshot, punch, and kick.

Heavy rock elements come through in several scenes, like the one right after Wick kills the first round of intruders, and has to dispose of the bodies. Another one comes in as several parties prepare to hunt down Wick. This bluesy, heavy rock song isn’t listed in the official soundtrack, but it still does a solid job of establishing the tone for the film.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of great musical moments in “John Wick”, almost too many to name. The most impressive thing about the soundtrack, however, is just how well it manages to capture and elevate the action on screen beat by beat. While it isn’t on quite the same level as “Baby Driver” in that it doesn’t match the beat to each gun shot, it’s still solid enough to be head and shoulders above your everyday action film.

Track Listing

1. “Every Ending Has a Beginning” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:31
2. “Story of Wick” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 3:05
3. “John Mourns” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:29
4. “Assassins” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:12
5. “Dear John” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:49
6. “Daisy” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:29
7. “Evil Man Blues” (Performed by The Candy Shop Boys) Leonard Feather and Lionel Hampton 4:20
8. “The Red Circle” Le Castle Vania 1:00
9. “Lure the Wolf” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:04
10. “Iosef the Terrible” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:34
11. “Chop Shop” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:52
12. “Baba Yaga” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:46
13. “On The Hunt” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:11
14. “In My Mind” (Performed by M86 & Susie Q) Ali Theodore, Susan Paroff, Sergio Cabral, Sarai Howard, Bryan Spitzer 3:07
15. “The Drowning” Le Castle Vania 2:24
16. “Think” (Performed by Kaleida) Kaleida 3:59
17. “LED Spirals” Le Castle Vania 0:59
18. “Shots Fired” Le Castle Vania 3:11
19. “Old Friend Marcus” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:33
20. “Hotel Throw Down” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:55
21. “Warehouse Smack Down” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:44
22. “Who You Talkin’ To Man?” (Performed by Ciscandra Nostalghia) Ciscandra Nostalghia and Tyler Bates 4:41
23. “Membership Revoked” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:04
24. “Unfortunate Priest” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 1:49
25. “Dock Shootout” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:42
26. “No More Guns” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 2:05
27. “Be Seeing You” Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard 3:38
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