It’s hard to believe that three years have passed since we said goodbye to Chuck from our TV screens and, discounting some talk of a movie, everything Chuck seemed firmly confined to the past. Until this week, that is, when we discovered that from April 7th , the show’s original soundtrack would be made available to purchase.
Naturally, we jumped at the chance to get our hands on it, keen to ensure this wasn’t just a cruel pre-April Fools joke. Thankfully it wasn’t, and needless to say, we were thrilled to when our copy arrived.
In this digital music age, it’s become almost unheard-of for a TV series not to release its soundtrack, from Arrow to Game of Thrones, most shows have spawned at least one if not more. We may never know why Warner Bros waited over three years to release one for Chuck, but at least we can be grateful that they got there in the end.
The soundtrack comprises a selection of tracks from the 91 episodes that make up the show’s five-year run, including instrumental music composed by Tim Jones, as well as tunes from the show’s own fictional cover band, Jeffster. The CD features 16 tracks of which 13 are from Jones’s instrumental score and 3 are songs by the Jeffster duo. Those purchasing digitally, however, will get the the added bonus of 2 additional instrumental tracks and 2 more Jeffster songs, bringing the total to 20 tracks.
What was unique about Chuck as a series was its combining of many different genres, resulting in a hybrid story that would no doubt present a challenge to any composer. But if creating a score to bind together these disparate elements presented any problems for Jones, it certainly does not show in the final product. The music moves between dynamic sounds for action scenes, moving and passionate melodies for love and emotional scenes and kooky and crazy tunes for the many other bizarre scenes that the characters found themselves in. In fact, even individually, many tracks manage to capture the emotional range of an entire episode, expertly mixing different sounds over the course of a few short minutes.
Jones’s merging of various musical styles means that the score offers more than just classic orchestral sounds, often bringing traditional instruments together with synthesizers and even some choral vocals (e.g. Track 7 – “It’s not all work”) It may sound like an odd mix, but Jones’s expertise ensures everything fits together perfectly so that the music not only suits the visuals it was designed for, but also works in its own right as well.
One interesting thing is that some of the longer tracks are divided into sections that could have been treated as a collection of separate tracks – so arguably, you’re actually getting more than 16 or 20 songs. Perhaps the greatest sign of the score’s strength, however, is that even now, after this all this time, when you hear it you still instantly picture the characters and scenes it was created for.
Perhaps the best way to describe the Jeffster tracks, on the other hand, is is that they are the best worst covers of classic rock and pop tracks that you could ever wish for. Initially only intended to function as part of a small subplot in the show, Jeffster was formed by the characters Jeff and Lester (Vik Sahay and Scott Krinsky) when they decided to perform at the wedding of Chuck’s sister, Ellie. From there, however, the concept quickly evolved, with the pair going on to perform terrible renditions of numerous songs.
Key to the fun and popularity of these tracks were always Sahay’s and Krinsky’s acting, whether in the the show itself or at live events like San Diego Comic Con, so one might wonder whether or not they work without the hilarious visuals.
Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is yes, and this is thanks in large part to Sahay, whose vocals are so over-the-top that they manage to transcend the cringeworthiness of a bad X-Factor auditions, instead become works of comedic genius. For some of us, part of the appeal is probably also in identifying with the idea of not singing as well as we might like to think we can. The arrangements for the covers are also fantastic as, despite being professionally produced, they have a hopelessly amateurish feel, recreating the sound of a cover band used to making music in garages or basements.
As a series, Chuck was a rare televisual gem, and the music from both Jones and Jeffster! helped play a part in that. Much like the show itself, Jones’s great score is definitely underrated and deserving of more recognition. While it only offers a small selection of the music from the show, this soundtrack provides a great trip down memory lane that’s sure to have fans reaching for the DVD collections to re-live this classic series.
CHUCK – Original Television Soundtrack is available to download or buy on CD from April 7th thanks to VARÈSE SARABANDE RECORDS.