Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Superhero Theme Project: Red Tornado and Plastic Man

When last we left the Superhero Theme Project several months ago, things seemed to be winding down. At the time, the Little One was still invested, but there was a definitely the sense that she was losing interest. After the nearly devastating success of the Venom theme, it seemed that she was a little burned out on the playlist. Understandable, since she had been listening to it almost every day for nearly a year a half. To a degree, I was too, and I was starting to run out of material. I wanted to keep high standards, but I admittedly worked harder than intended to dig up the last few themes that I added to the playlist.

I was also disappointed that there was not more traditional repertoire making its way onto the list. A lot of it just seemed too “classical” when sidled up aside more contemporary TV and movie themes, and I felt like I was kind of stylistically repeating myself in this realm. It’s not that I was ignoring chamber music, though. For example, I came across Borodin’s Prince Igor theme in my research and it seemed to be bombastic enough to work if the right hero came up.

At the time, we were still riding out the Batman: Brave and the Bold series, which, coupled with the Super-Pets Encyclopedia, provided a constant stream of characters. When Prince Igor had my attention, she was very interested in the Red Tornado. I was not entirely convinced that the style of the piece fit the character. Objectively, the Red Tornado is an android, and from that perspective, the operatic pretentiousness of Prince Igor does not layer well with the character. The character’s history will show, however, that his robotic body is the host to a “wind elemental,” which might align with Prince Igor’s swirling pomposity. With reservations, I pulled the trigger in the hopes that some new music might reinvigorate her interest.

To this day, I am still a little mixed on this one. The final entry on the playlist, however, ended up being one of my favorites. The Brave and the Bold also got her interested in Plastic Man. This character is relatively marginal in the DC universe, but kids of my generation might remember that he had a brief stint in the 70s Saturday morning cartoon universe. I loved this show back then, so I had a unique investment. I wanted to do him justice, but also make him distinct from the other tracks in the playlist.

I was listening to some George Gershwin back when I was investigating the possibilities for Catwoman’s theme. I was drawn to sections of Rhapsody in Blue that seemed appropriate, but my no-editing policy excluded this 15 minute opus. Looking for alternatives, I discovered Promenade (Walking the Dog). This piece had a running time that fit playlist parameters, but it simply did not fit Catwoman. Due to the old cartoon series, however, my impression of Plastic Man is a little silly. Promenade (Walking the Dog) had a comedic feel that seemed right. Additionally, it was a huge contrast to my other Superhero themes, but was still clearly orchestral in scope. As reticent as I was with the Red Tornado, I thought that this song as Plastic Man’s theme would be my final stroke of genius.

I uploaded these tracks to the playlist, and they were relatively well-received. In an attempt to keep her listening, however, I took another step that seemed to put a decisive end to the Superhero Theme Project.

I uploaded Let it Go to my phone.

I couldn’t get around it. She was exposed to the song through her cousins and peers and, more importantly, she was trying to learn to sing it correctly. This latter development was too important to ignore. In the end, the lure of lyrics and peer pressure was too great.

Once this hit the air, there was zero interest in the Superhero playlist. By her request, I also added a couple of other Disney and pop music hits that, for reasons of dignity, we won’t go into here. The important point is that she seemed to be developing her own tastes, and there was no reason to continue cramming my narrative down her throat. For several months, she would sporadically request to “Listen to Superheroes,” but generally there was very little interest. I thought that I had gotten all that I was going to out of the project. I deemed it successful and, more selfishly, loads of nerdish fun. End of story.

However, just now, as I am writing this nearly six months later, she caught me whistling Promenade (Walking the Dog) and decisively asked “Are you singing Plastic Man?”

This reflects a recently renewed interest in the Superhero Playlist.  She requests it about once every two weeks and listens to the entire thing intently.  Additionally, now that she is nearing four, our attendant discussions are starting to reveal the way in which the seeds that this project planted are starting to take root. This will, along with a few additions to the playlist, undoubtedly be the topic of future posts. For now, consider yourself caught up.

Jump back a few months click HERE.
To see where it all started go HERE.

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