James Horner

American Tail

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Universal Pictures' cartoon musical An American Tail was released just three years prior to the Disney cartoon renaissance led by the Alan Menken musicals The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Had it been released in that era, the film's money song, "Somewhere Out There," probably would have earned an Academy Award for Best Song. But in 1986, Academy voters were just as robotic in their selection of Top 40 hits as they would later be in their selection of cartoon production numbers. As it happened, "Somewhere Out There" lost the Oscar to the Top Gun song "Take My Breath Away," and Tail composer James Horner had to wait until Titanic in 1997 to win his first Oscar. An American Tail, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, is on par with many of the more celebrated '90s cartoon musicals. Horner's lush and tuneful orchestrations often emulate Spielberg's favorite composer, John Williams. His songs, co-written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, pale slightly in comparison with the instrumental score. But they are charmingly performed by actors like Philip Glasser, Christopher Plummer and Dom DeLuise, and Weil's lyrics are quite clever, especially on "There Are No Cats in America" and "Never Say Never." The soundtrack also contains a beautiful choral setting of "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" as well as the hit pop ballad version of "Somewhere Out There" performed by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram. ~ Evan Cater, Rovi

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