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GNOMEO AND JULIET

Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Legendary Collaborators Strike a Note with the Soundtrack; James Newton Howard, Chris Bacon Provide the Score "‘Romeo and Juliet' is one of the greatest love stories of all time,” says Elton John, who serves as executive producer and provides the music for "Gnomeo & Juliet.” "And garden gnomes are huge in many countries throughout the world. We thought this would be a really good idea.”

John, a singer, songwriter, musician and humanitarian, teamed up with longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin to provide the soundtrack for the film. "In describing the music, all I can say is that I had to reevaluate myself with any pop sensibilities still lurking in my decidedly un-pop brain,” says Taupin. "Cue some old Beatles circa ‘Magical Mystery Tour' and voila, that sounded like a good starting point. Gnomes are very poppy, wouldn't you agree? Colorful, energetic and ABBAesque, so it seemed only natural that the songs suit the characters. Guess I just put my pointy hat on and went out into the garden.”

"Elton John and Bernie Taupin are geniuses,” says director Kelly Asbury. "They have written classics for the ages. And the opportunity to use that in the fabric of the movie was fantastic.”

These gnomes don't sing, says the director. "We didn't want it to be a traditional musical. But to use the music as song score really tied it together.”

Adds producer Steve Hamilton Shaw, "The songs are terrific. The music overall is crucial in not only showcasing the comedy, but also in delivering the emotion that lies behind the story. The movie has great emotional depth and strength of character.”

The John-Taupin team created all-new music for the film, including "Hello Hello,” a song created to illustrate the moment when Gnomeo meets and falls for Juliet. "It's our love-at-first-sight song,” says Asbury.

At the other end of the spectrum is "Love Builds a Garden.” Says Asbury, "‘Love Builds a Garden' is Featherstone's backstory song that teaches Gnomeo and Juliet a really big lesson about hate versus love and the power of love.”

"I think ‘Love Builds a Garden' is the best song in the movie,” says John. "The flamingo explains to them that even though his garden is overgrown, it once flourished because the two people that lived there loved each other. Once they stopped loving each other, the garden died. But love can bring the garden back to life.”

"Gnomeo & Juliet” also features a new take on "Crocodile Rock,” performed by Nelly Furtado, featuring John. His classic recordings will also be featured in the film, including "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting,” "Don't Go Breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee, and "Your Song.”

"It's very accessible,” says John about the film. "It's very funny, and because it's quite colloquial and British, we can make it even funnier.”

James Newton Howard teamed up with Chris Bacon to create the score for the movie. Howard, a veteran composer known for his work on films such as "Michael Clayton,” "The Fugitive,” "The Prince of Tides” and "My Best Friend's Wedding,” took Bacon under his wing six years ago and has watched his apprentice branch out on his own with films such as "Space Chimps” and "Waking Sleeping Beauty.”

"James Newton Howard is a legendary, multi-Oscar®-nominated composer and musician,” says Asbury. "He actually was part of Elton John's original band, so he and Elton have a bond from the beginning. He was perfect to score this film.” "It's very hard to say no to Elton,” says Howard, "not that I wanted to; we've worked together since the mid-seventies.” The composers incorporated iconic Elton John-Bernie Taupin melodies such as "Tiny Dancer,” "Rocket Man,” "Bennie and The Jets” and "I'm Still Standing,” among others, into the score, and even invited John's band to record the rock-and-roll segments of the score, which, says Bacon, "added a sense of authenticity to the use of their music.”

Tasked with blending that classic rock and roll with a big-orchestral sound to complement the whimsical tale featuring garden gnomes—a story that features humor, emotion and intensity—the composers rose to the occasion. Howard says he treated this film like any other. "I approached it the same way I approach every film—whether it's animation or live action, gnomes or dinosaurs,” says the veteran composer. "What's important in a film score is supporting the emotion, supporting the storytelling, making it as exciting as possible. The challenge becomes finding a tone that's unique to the picture. There are places in the movie that are quite moving actually, even though you're looking at garden gnomes. It's a timeless story. It's funny. It's irreverent. It's moving.”

Adds Bacon, "We knew the score needed to be fun, but not too light, while having an appropriate gravitas, without being too heavy. We ended up scoring with a large orchestra for the most part, as it allows the most versatility in conveying different moods and emotions, and it provided a nice balance and contrast to the places that were driven more by guitars and drums.”

"The story is told with music,” says Asbury, "so you hear nods to Elton John pieces along with this new dynamic score that they created, marrying the two sensibilities beautifully. You hear a little bit of band music, a little bit of orchestral music, and it's actually quite artful what they've done with it. They've made the humor more funny and the drama more dramatic. And that's what a good score does for you. And James Newton Howard—you really don't get better than that.”

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