Michael Giacchino

Bringing the music of Coco to life

Adrian Molina, Coco, Michael Giacchino, music

Posted by Simoa • November 29, 2017

Coco has won over audiences with its vivid portrayal of familial love. As much as it celebrates family, it is also a celebration of music.

Music is intimately woven into Coco, more than it is in any other Pixar film. This is only to be expected since its hero Miguel is an aspiring musician, but Coco‘s music is also influenced by Mexico which further sets it apart from other Pixar features. The filmmakers were committed to telling a story that eschewed stereotypes, one that painted an authentic and multifaceted portrait of Mexican people. The music would need these qualities as well. To achieve musical authenticity, songwriter Germaine Franco and consultant Camilo Lara were recruited to the team.

During the film’s press day in August, we were treated to a firsthand listen, learning about the myriad ways music blended into the film. And that musical presence springs directly from Miguel’s secret dream.

Federico Ramos, Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco, Camilo Lara and Adrian Molina present at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores / Pixar)

There are three types of music to be heard in Coco. The source music was very important, as it pulled from Mexico’s broad tapestry of traditional music. Mariachi is one example that figures prominently within the film.

Original songs inspired by Mexican music were written by co-director Adrian Molina, along with Franco, Bobby Lopez, and Kristen-Anderson Lopez. “Remember Me,” Ernesto de la Cruz’s most famous song, is a show stopping spectacle that recalls the glamour of Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema. Franco also noted that the song continuously reinforces the film’s theme of remembering our loved ones. The energetic “Un Poco Loco” with lyrics by Molina has a middle section which includes instrumentals only. This is one of the ways in which Lara’s purpose to create music that smells like Mexico was achieved.

Then of course is the score which encompasses character themes, as well as conflict and setting.

Federico Ramos, Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco, Camilo Lara and Adrian Molina present at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores / Pixar)


Michael Giacchino is one of Pixar’s most cherished collaborators. Coco marks his sixth film in this partnership. He detailed his process in composing the score, which began after he watched the film. It was a very emotional experience, not least because it brought him back to his childhood. Giacchino grew up listening to Mexican music, which he described as very melodic. Incorporating that sound into the score was a priority.

Giacchino is Italian, but the idea of family is so incredibly strong that he connected to the story, and the same is true for non Mexicans who have embraced Coco.

Authenticity is key in Coco, right down to the smallest details. The way Miguel strums the guitar had to be accurate. Pixar’s animators were praised as well for their attention to detail and making the guitar playing correct. The gorgeously designed guitar appears below.

The guitar at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 3, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

And it was this guitar that Federico Ramos (pictured above) played! As Giacchino said, the guitar was the only way to play the music of the film.

To learn more about the songwriting and scoring process, watch the featurette below. You can also catch a glimpse of the many musicians whom Franco praised for adding their own artistry and spirit to the music.

Though Coco details death and the afterlife, it’s a lively film and the music lives and breathes too.

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Michael Giacchino turns 50 – a look back at his incredible Pixar career

Michael Giacchino, Pixar, Soundtrack

Posted by Joanna • October 10, 2017

Today is composer Michael Giacchino’s 50th birthday, and what better day to celebrate his (quite literally) incredible contribution to Pixar movies?

Michael Giacchino is responsible for the film scores of many Pixar works, including both feature length and short films. He wrote the music for The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Cars 2, Inside Out, and the short films “One Man Band,” “Lifted,” “La Luna,” “Toy Story of Terror!,” and “Toy Story that Time Forgot.” He’s received numerous nominations and awards for these scores over the years, including 6 awards for The Incredibles, 2 for Ratatouille, and 10 for Up. Next month, we’ll get to hear the soundtrack he has created for Coco and it’s sure to be vibrant and full of life.

Some truly iconic Pixar pieces have been written by Giacchino, including “Married Life,” “Bundle of Joy,” “Free Skating,” and the entire theme of The Incredibles. His music is suited perfectly to Pixar movies – it brings emotions to the forefront and can tell a story purely through the notes, themes, pauses, and swells. For a shining example of this ‘story-telling through music’, look no further than “Married Life” from Up – with no dialogue and set against one of Pixar’s most famous scenes, the score is able to bring to life the poignant story of Carl and Ellie’s married life together. I love the way Pixar often chooses to set dialogue aside and instead rely on expressions and body language to communicate to the audience. These scenes (or even entire short movies) would be nowhere near as powerful without the music of composers such as Giacchino.

There are a few composers that Pixar keep coming back to – and with good reason! It really makes their films feel and sound more unique and recognisable. Nothing is quite as characteristic of Pixar as a Randy Newman piece (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc), and Thomas Newman’s (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) almost other-worldly sound never fails to transport me to the unexplored worlds of the ocean and outer space. Michael Giacchino always manages to capture the emotion, excitement and character of each of the movies he’s worked on.

So – happy birthday, Michael Giacchino. Thank you for making so many Pixar movies that much more special. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we can’t wait to hear your scores for Coco and The Incredibles 2 (and hopefully even more Pixar movies in the distant future!)

Michael Giacchino and Brad Bird teasing the beginning of work on The Incredibles 2 in May this year

Who is your favourite Pixar composer? And what is your favourite Michael Giacchino score or piece? Let us know in the comments or on our Twitter and Facebook!

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Coco Soundtrack: A “Mosaic of Emotions”

Coco, Michael Giacchino, Soundtrack

Posted by Simoa • October 5, 2017

Coco has music in its DNA,” director Lee Unkrich stated, much like its protagonist, Miguel Rivera. And who better to make that music come alive than frequent Pixar collaborator, Michael Giacchino? Also featuring the songwriting talents of husband-wife duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Coco‘s soundtrack promises to be as vibrant as the film itself.

Giacchino worked closely with musical consultant Camilo Lara of the Mexican Institute of Sound in order to craft music that was authentic, original, and beautiful. Giacchino composed a score and also took inspiration from traditional Mexican songs as source music. Original songs written by the Lopez team include Ernesto de La Cruz’s signature “Remember Me,” “Un Poco Loco,” “Everyone Knows Juanita,” “The World Es Mi Familia,” and “Proud Corazon.” Co-director Adrian Molina also contributed to penning the songs. The full tracklist can be found below:

Coco resonated with Giacchino, who described the film as a “mosaic of emotions.”  “It made me think about my family and my connections to relatives back in Italy. This film speaks to everyone.” And the music he’s created is for a story that’s universal, but also wholly Mexican.

You can buy and subsequently bless your ears with the Coco soundtrack on November 10th.

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Pixar at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Animation, Inside Out, Interview, John Lasseter, Jonas Rivera, Lava, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter, Pixar, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur, UP

Posted by Nia • January 16, 2016

Congratulations to the talented folks at Pixar for receiving not one but THREE Oscar nominations during Thursday’s announcement. Inside Out was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and also scored a nomination for Best Original Screenplay; it will be the only animated film competing in that category. Sanjay’s Super Team took home a nod for Best Animated Short Film.


"Sanjay's Super Team" Comes to the Con ? Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle are taking Pixar Animation Studios' new short to San Diego's Comic-Con International next month for its North American premiere and a peek behind the scenes of the production process. The Super Story Behind the Pixar Short "Sanjay's Super Team," slated for Thurs., July 9 at 11 a.m. in the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront, reveals the unique inspiration for this incredibly personal film that features superheroes like never before. The short debuts in U.S. theaters in front of Disney-Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" on Nov. 25, 2015.

Via Disney/Pixar

It was indeed great news hearing that Pixar was nominated for several awards, but it’s also hard not to acknowledge the slight disappointments regarding snubs to both The Good Dinosaur and Lava. In an ideal world, all four films released from the studio would have been nominated for Oscars. They all followed the Pixar standard of challenging both art and technology, paving the way for future animated films. The Good Dinosaur alone was revolutionary in it’s technical aspects and successful blend of animation against hyperrealistic backgrounds. Lava also showcased stunning backgrounds that were brought to life through the use of song; depicting the romance between two volcanoes without dialogue but only through a love ballad. Lava‘s catchy song was clearly absent from the Best Original Song nominees. Also missing from the Best Original Score category was Michael Giacchino’s beautiful work on Inside Out.

In the past, an animated film has even been nominated for Best Picture, such as Pete Docter’s last film Up. If an animated film can be nominated for Best Picture, then it’s director should also be recognized in the Best Director category. Inside Out was incredibly inventive and something we haven’t seen before. It cleverly took us inside the mind of a young girl and created relatable characters out of her emotions… not to mention simultaneously hitting us all with a wave of childhood nostalgia. Docter spent 4+ years working on the film; from writing the screenplay, approving every minute detail most audience members might miss, to even guiding a brilliant team of artists into crafting his vision. That time frame is longer than most live action directors work on a film.

In an interview with Screencrush, Pixarian Kelsey Mann explains why animation directors are just as worthy as notable live action directors in receiving acknowledgement from The Academy:

“From the ground up, directors at Pixar are in charge of everything from the story to the individual blades of grass. We start from nothing. Literally nothing. And it all has to be built from the ground up. And Pete is involved in every decision.”

Slowly audiences (and even The Academy) are beginning to realize that animation isn’t only for children, but it’s an art form entirely of it’s own; crafting stories a thousand times better and more original than most of the live action films released in Hollywood. Here’s hoping that one day an animated film will not only be nominated for Best Picture again, but will win it too.

We will definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for Pixar to take home all of the awards on the February 28th Oscar ceremony.

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Inside Out soundtrack

Inside Out, Michael Giacchino, Soundtrack

Posted by Simoa • May 27, 2015

With the North American release of Inside Out just a little over three weeks away, excitement continues to build. Now the official soundtrack, composed by Pixar veteran Michael Giacchino is available for preorder on Amazon, and Film Music Reporter has the full track listing, as well as the cover art.

The design is simple but colorful, abstract almost, and represents all the various colors of the emotions. The list of songs appears below:

1. Bundle of Joy
2. Team Building
3. Nomanisone Island/National Movers
4. Overcoming Sadness
5. Free Skating
6. First Day of School
7. Riled Up
8. Goofball No Longer
9. Memory Lanes
10. The Forgetters
11. Chasing the Pink Elephant
12. Abstract Thought
13. Imagination Land
14. Down in the Dumps
15. Dream Productions
16. Dream a Little Nightmare
17. The Subconscious Basement
18. Escaping the Subconscious
19. We Can Still Stop Her
20. Tears of Joy
21. Rainbow Flyer
22. Chasing Down Sadness
23. Joy Turns to Sadness/A Growing Personality
24. The Joy of Credits

Michael Giacchino has previously scored The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Cars 2, and Up. His music has really made an indelible mark on each film, and we can only expect the best here! The album drops June 16th. Check back here for more Inside Out news, including a review of the enchanting art book.

Thanks to Daniel Jensen for the heads up!


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New Inside Out Promotional Material: Lots of Joy

Inside Out, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter

Posted by Simoa • January 26, 2015

Now that Inside Out is less than five months away, there’s lots of new promotional material which will only increase as the release date gets closer. Over the past month there have been new stills, posters, toys, and a new character!

One of the first stills to be released was of Joy and Sadness on the Train of Thought, presumably, with Joy holding one of Riley’s memories. The background is absolutely gorgeous. We have to wonder where the two are headed.

joy sadness 1

The next still features a very wistful looking Joy in the main headquarters of Riley’s mind.

joy 4

The Argentinian poster shows her with a similar pose, further highlighting her endearing personality. It’s clear Joy is exactly what lots of impatient fans are feeling as they await the film.

joy 3

Now onto the toys.

The TOMY edition of the Inside Out toys are figurines with a waxy quality. These were unveiled by Disney Consumer Products a few weeks ago.

tomy collage 1

Some Funko Pop editions are also in the pipeline, with that brand’s trademark black eyes. They do still convey each of the specific emotions however.

Last but not least, the plush toys, featuring a new character previously not seen. The purple elephant on the far right is Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend. With his childlike design, it seems that the film’s team wanted to make him look as if he actually came from the mind of a child. He could also prove to be added comic relief. It will definitely be fun to see how he interacts with Riley and the emotions.
No doubt the characters will prove to be a hit when they appear on store shelves this summer.

There’s also the music for the film. Michael Giacchino, who scored Pete Docter’s last film Up, is on board for Inside Out. He recently posted two pictures to his instagram with Pete during what must be a scoring session for the film. Considering the timeless way he captured Carl and Ellie’s love story, along with the epic, sweeping music of Carl’s sojourn through Paradise Falls with Russell, we can’t wait to hear what he comes up with for Inside Out and which emotions will be paired with music.

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Michael Giacchino to Score ‘Inside Out’

Inside Out, Michael Giacchino, Soundtrack

Posted by Brkyo614 • May 27, 2014

Hot on the heels of his work on Toy Story of Terror, Michael Giacchino already has another project lined up with Pixar. In an interview held at a live performance of his Star Trek Into Darkness score, the composer shared which projects he’ll be involved with in the coming months. In addition to Jurassic World and Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, Giacchino noted that he’ll be scoring Pixar’s Inside Out – his second collaboration with director Pete Docter after 2009’s Up.

An attendee recorded the full Q&A with Giacchino, which can be viewed below (via Pixar Post). Inside Out is mentioned around 21:30.

Michael Giacchino isn’t the only composer Pixar has plans with; back in March 2013, Thomas Newman revealed that he would be writing the score for Pixar’s then-2014 release, The Good Dinosaur. It’s unclear whether the film’s delay to November 2015 has affected his involvement.

Inside Out releases on June 19, 2015.

Are you a fan of Giacchino’s work with Pixar?

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‘Toy Story of Terror’ Gets a Soundtrack Release

Michael Giacchino, Soundtrack, Toy Story of Terror!

Posted by Brkyo614 • October 4, 2013

While Pixar has consistently rolled out soundtracks for their features, their short films have gotten a far less favorable treatment; only The Blue Umbrella‘s score has received a formal release. Before today, it was unclear whether the music for Toy Story of Terror would be handled the same way. Thankfully, Amazon has confirmed that an MP3 release of the short’s score is on the way!

The Michael Giacchino-helmed soundtrack will be available on October 15. Here’s the track list:

  1. The Suspension Is Killing Me
  2. Thinking Inside the Box
  3. Motel Me a Scary Story
  4. I’ve Got a Bag Feeling About This
  5. Why’d It Have to Be Crawl Spaces?
  6. The Ballad of Combat Carl
  7. Iguana Be Kidding Me
  8. Nobody Puts Jessie in the Box
  9. Rock ‘Em Box ‘Em Robots
  10. Pink Peanut Panic
  11. World’s Worst Curtain Call
  12. FedExit (End Credits)

Pre-order the album at Amazon — the special airs on ABC the following day.

Are you looking forward to hearing Giacchino’s music?

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A Look at the Music of Cars 2!

Cars 2, Michael Giacchino, Soundtrack

Posted by Martin • May 11, 2011

Just short of a full track list, Disney/Pixar announced all of the songs that will appear on Cars 2: The Original Soundtrack next month.

Contemporary rock band Weezer, country star Brad Paisley, British singer/songwriter Robbie Williams, French star Benabar and J-pop super group Perfume all contribute at least one track to the eclectic album. The latter two performers bring a distinctly international flavor to the soundtrack with lyrics in French and Japanese, respectively. Here’s a preview:

Song: "You Might Think"
Performer(s): Weezer
Fun Facts: Cover of The Cars’ song.

Song: "Collision of Worlds"
Performer(s): Robbie Williams, Brad Paisley

Song: "Nobody’s Fool"
Performer(s): Brad Paisley
Fun Facts: Paisley’s fourth song for the Cars franchise.

Song: "Mon coeur fait vroom" (MY Heart Goes Vroom)
Performer(s): Benabar
Fun Facts: Introduces Paris scene; co-written by Giacchino.

Song: "Polyrhythm"
Performer(s): Perfume
Fun Facts: Introduces Tokyo scene.

Also: Look out for a brand new Cars 2 trailer tomorrow morning!

Cars 2: The Original Soundtrack, composed by Michael Giacchino, hits store shelves on June 14.

Your thoughts?

(via Stitch Kingdom)

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Exclusive: Docter and Giacchino Celebrate the Oscars!

Academy Awards, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter

Posted by Martin • March 12, 2010

I bet you were wondering when Upcoming Pixar was going to premiere an exclusive picture from Pixar’s 2010 Academy Award collection.

Well, here it is in all its glory! This image is one of three never before published shots of the Up team from Sunday’s big event! You can see the other two pictures over at The Pixar Blog and Pixar Talk.

I love this particular shot because you really get to see both Oscars in fine detail, click to view larger! Needless to say, Pete Docter and Michael Giacchino look happy to be holding those statuettes. After all, the Oscars this year were a huge success for Pixar!

All of these pictures were sent to us bloggers by the wonderful folks at Pixar Publicity and were shot by the studio’s head photographer Deborah Coleman.

Congratulations, Pete and Michael!

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