The soundtrack to Pixar's Coco feels destined for greatness. With a memorable and touching ballad as an anchor, it doesn't take a prophet to see that this music is likely to receive several accolades from the filmmaking community come awards season. But the big question you've come to have answered is this: Does the music hold up on its own apart from the film?
"Remember Me" is the film's big ballad, which appears in the film no less than three times and also receives a pop duet by Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade. Personally, I think this is 2017's "Let It Go." The song is so much more meaningful in the story than it initially appears and audiences will not only connect with the message, but also the melody. On top of that, it was written by Frozen scribes Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
The majority of the other tracks were written by Co-Director Adrian Molina and collaborator Germaine Franco. These songs being mostly present to drive the story forward, are often quite short and sweet and never feel fully realized on the soundtrack. Overall, they are best experienced in the context of the film. I wish that in addition to the film versions, they would have included lengthier tracks. There was a street show at Disney California Adventure earlier this fall called "A Musical Celebration of Coco" that presented several of these songs performed by a mariachi band and something along those lines would have allowed each to shine. They all have great melodies and lyrics and are worthy of a Camarata-style alternate album version. There are also two songs that are not original to the film, "La Llorona" is a traditional folk song and "Jálale" by the Mexican Institute of Sound is directly off their 2009 album "Soy Sauce."
On digital, it is worth noting that fans can experience two different versions of the Coco soundtrack, one in English and the other in Spanish. The Spanish version features alternate versions of all of the songs from this release, but also adds four tracks inspired by the film by artists like Bronco, Karol Sevilla, Jorge Blanco, and La Santa Cecilia. These tracks are a lot of fun and even if you don't speak Spanish, you will be able to pick out a few words when they reference characters or locations from the film (with the exception of a cover of "Bésame Mucho"). It also drops Miguel's pop version of "Remember Me" and replaces it with a more melodic version of "Recuérdame" by Carlos Rivera that I greatly prefer. Natalia Lafourcade's part on Miguel's track is also expanded into her own solo version of the song. The Spanish soundtrack also receives much better album artwork, in my opinion.
The rest of the soundtrack includes the full score by Michael Giacchino, who has written some beautiful themes for the film. It's a diverse orchestration, ranging from subtle and calm solo guitar, to full mariachi band, to full Hollywood orchestra. Always a nice touch, the last track, "Dia de los Muertos Suite," makes for a perfect sampling of many of the main themes from the film in one track that is nearly six-minutes long. This is helpful for anyone who just wants to quickly access highlights of the score.
There's a lot to love on the soundtrack to Pixar's Coco. If any of the songs from the film get stuck in your head, you can revisit all of them here. The English soundtrack is available for sale on disc, while the Spanish version can be purchased digitally in the US. Apple Music subscribers get a bonus if accessing the soundtrack through their subscription, as both versions are included on the streaming soundtrack which presents itself like a deluxe three-disc edition.