Are you ready for a review of this weekend’s most hyped project? That’s right, today we’re going to dive deep into The Rick and Morty Soundtrack. I woke up this morning, set my Spotify to “Private Session,” and hit play, fully expecting to wince through the entire record.
The first track was the main theme, a boilerplate sci-fi intro, a pastiche of the “Doctor Who” main title theme. The next song, however, took me by surprise — “Jerry’s Rick” is an elegant if simple instrumental track that was, somehow, quite good. I began to take this soundtrack a little more seriously after that, having come in expecting to sit through 40 minutes of shit like “Get Schwifty.”
I came to find that there are three broad categories of songs on the soundtrack: The first consists of vocal tracks with lyrics that only function to advance the plot within the show (these are by-and-large pastiches of certain specific genres or artists), the second are instrumental tracks that deserve to be taken seriously on their own merits and the third are original songs done by outside artists — Chaos Chaos, clipping. and Chad VanGaalen all contribute songs inspired by the show.
Most of the first category are simply unlistenable outside of novelty value. “Flu Hatin’ Rap” comes to mind which, while being a competent work done in the style of the Sugarhill Gang, carries no comedic value of its own accord and is too dumb to be taken seriously. Of course, a lot of these songs are designed to be bad as a part of a joke, but just because they are intentionally bad doesn’t make them any more pleasant to listen to when the music is isolated from the plot. The one exception is “Goodbye Moonmen,” consisting of a tasteful and restrained acoustic chord progression and vocals which straddle the line between being an imitation or an excellent parody of David Bowie. It’s a shame that the lyrics make most of these songs borderline-unlistenable outside of the context of the show.
The second category is by-and-large filled with impressive and thoughtful works. The best song on the record is “African Dream Pop,” a genre of music invented for the purpose of the show. It is shockingly innovative, groovy and atmospheric; it’s really the only song worth returning to in the future. “Jerry’s Rick” and “Unity Says Goodbye” are balanced, cinematic works of composition that, while I don’t think necessarily merit repeated listens, certainly deserve to be viewed as more than songs from that one show with the alcoholic pickle guy.
The third category is hit-or-miss: “Stab Him in the Throat” is the most memorable of the pack, the experimental hip-hop group clipping. laying down bars over a reworking of the main title theme. The instrumental is a great remix apart from the overtaxed sample of Rick burping. Daveed Diggs comes with a hard flow, but whatever momentum he manages to build is sent crashing down by lines such as “He looking schwifty, man you shouldn’t trust him,” “hopped up out the whip, same color Pickle Rick” and “that habanero have him leakin’ Szechuan right there on the floor.” “Memories” is pretty but a bore. The vocalist of Chaos Chaos has a vulnerable, shoegaze-esque voice that almost saves the track, but it doesn’t quite do enough. The inoffensive song also has the advantage of never invoking “Pickle Rick.”
To be honest, if you aren’t a massive “Rick and Morty” fanboy, the only track worth listening to off this soundtrack is “African Dream Pop” (maybe “Goodbye Moonmen” if you have strong feelings about David Bowie). If you are a massive “Rick and Morty” fanboy (more power to you), you’ll probably love the whole album. The show has received a lot of probably undeserved backlash over the past year due to a particularly toxic fanbase, so I came into the soundtrack with certain off-putting expectations. However, much like the show itself, the negative stereotypes surrounding the work are based in reality but largely exaggerated.