A “Roguish” Tale of Two Albums
On December 16, 2016, Walt Disney Records released Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), the soundtrack album to Gareth Edwards’ gritty (and first Star Wars “standalone” feature film outside the nine-part Skywalker Saga) action adventure. Released in compact disc, vinyl LP, and digital audio on the same day that the movie hit theaters, the original 21-track album features original new musical themes composed by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up, Star Trek) and incorporates fragments of material from the original Star Wars trilogy composed by John Williams.
Genesis (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]) – 2016
Rogue One is, at its core, one of those “daring commandos carry out a do-or-die mission against the Nazis” movies that Hollywood loved to make in the 1960s and early 1970s, only reworked to fit into universe created by George Lucas for the original Star Wars (1977).
Indeed, the movie was conceived by John Knoll, who supervised the special effects of the Prequel Trilogy for Lucas in the late 1990s and early 2000s and is the current chief creative officer (CCO) of Lucasfilm Ltd., as a direct prequel to that first Star Wars movie. Knoll was intrigued by that seminal film’s reference – in the title crawl – to Rebel spies who stole the plans of the Death Star during the Rebellion’s first victorious battle against the evil Galactic Empire.
Knoll’s idea was brought to the screen by screenwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, director Edwards, and a cast that included Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whittaker, and Donnie Yen, and its action-packed story of a small band of Rebels tasked with infiltrating a secure Imperial facility had a Star Wars-meets-Saving Private Ryan vibe that pleased fans and critics alike.
Giacchino Saves the Day
Interestingly, composer Giacchino was a late arrival on the Rogue One creative team. French film composer Alexandre Desplat, who had already contributed a score to another franchise – Harry Potter – for which John Williams had created the original themes and written scores – was the original composer for Rogue One. However, the film underwent a major reshoot, and the delay in getting it to the post-production stage created conflicts with Desplat’s other commitments.
With the clock almost literally ticking down to Rogue One’s December 16, 2016, release, Giacchino was asked to do the near-impossible – compose a complete score for a major (and risky) film in a beloved franchise in just four and a half weeks. Apparently, the Force – and a strong work ethic – was with the composer, because Giacchino not only came through with a robust, thrilling score that blends his original compositions with some of John Williams’ iconic themes from the original Star Wars saga.
Here’s the tracklist – complete with Giacchino’s pun-filled alternative cue titles from the original album’s liner notes:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
No. Title Length
1. “He’s Here for Us” (“A Krennic Condition”) 3:20
2. “A Long Ride Ahead” (“Jyn and Scare It”) 3:56
3. “Wobani Imperial Labor Camp” (“Jyncarcerated”) 0:54
4. “Trust Goes Both Ways” (“Going to See Saw”; includes “The Force Theme” by John Williams) 2:45
5. “When Has Become Now” (“That New Death Star Smell”; includes “Death Star Motif” by John Williams) 1:59
6. “Jedha Arrival” (“Jedha Call Saw”) 2:48
7. “Jedha City Ambush” (“When Ambush Come to Shove”) 2:19
8. “Star-Dust” (“Erso-Facto”) 3:47
9. “Confrontation on Eadu” (“Go Do, That Eadu, That You Do, So Well”; includes “Death Star Motif” by John Williams) 8:05
10. “Krennic’s Aspirations” (“Have a Choke and a Smile”; includes “Imperial Motif” and “The Imperial March” by John Williams) 4:16
11. “Rebellions Are Built on Hope” (“Erso in Vain”) 2:56
12. “Rogue One” (“Takes One to Rogue One”; includes “The Force Theme” by John Williams) 2:04
13. “Cargo Shuttle SW-0608” (“World’s Worst Vacation Destination”) 3:59
14. “Scrambling the Rebel Fleet” (“Scarif Tactics”; includes “The Force Theme” and “Star Wars Main Theme” by John Williams) 1:33
15. “AT-ACT Assault” (“Bazed and Confused”; includes “Rebel Fanfare” and “Imperial Walkers” by John Williams) 2:55
16. “The Master Switch” (“Switch Hunt”) 4:02
17. “Your Father Would Be Proud” (“Transmission Impossible”) 4:51
18. “Hope” (“Live and Let Jedi”; includes “The Imperial March”, “Death Star Motif”, “Rebel Blockade Runner”, and “The Force Theme” by John Williams) 1:37
19. “Jyn Erso and Hope Suite” 5:51
20. “The Imperial Suite” 2:29
21. “Guardians of the Whills Suite” 2:52
Total length: 69:18
Though Giacchino’s Rogue One score was not nominated for any awards, the soundtrack sold well, and many fans consider it to be one of the best albums in the Star Wars discography. This is a fine compliment to the composer, not only because he composed the score under great pressure and in a relatively short time, but because – inevitably – the music was going to be compared to that of Maestro John Williams, the undisputed Jedi Master of Star Wars’ composers.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) didn’t earn any recording industry awards in 2017 either. However, its critical and popular success spurred Walt Disney Records to follow up the 2016 album with an expanded edition with 36 additional cues, including material created for the “For Your Consideration” recordings that music labels produce strictly for Grammy, Oscar, and BAFTA nominations.
The Expanded Edition
Released on February 11, 2022, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Expanded Edition) is Walt Disney Records’ second – after 2020’s Solo: A Star Wars Story (Deluxe Edition) – enlarged reissue of a pre-existing Star Wars soundtrack since the 2012 sale of Lucasfilm Ltd. to its corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company.
“But Wait! There’s More! More Music, That Is…”
Obviously, there are no major changes in the style or ambiance of Giacchino’s music; the score is still a robust mix of symphonic leitmotifs done in a neo-Romantic style that harkens back to the classic Austro-German influence of film composers Erich Korngold and Max Steiner and the derring-do, suspenseful music from movies such as The Guns of Navarone, 633 Squadron, The Dirty Dozen, and Where Eagles Dare, with a sprinkling of cues from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The music tracks – as in the 2016 album – follow the film’s chronology, and the art (both on the album cover/liner notes insert and the CD label) is unchanged from the original issue. (Only in the digital copy does Walt Disney Records add a subtle little tag marked Expanded Edition to the album’s icon on Amazon Music, the app where I store my digital albums.)
There, is, however, more music for film score – and Rogue One – fans to listen to; where the 2016 album offers one hour and nine minutes’ worth of Giacchino’s score, the Expanded Edition presents two hours and 24 minutes, which is 10 minutes longer than Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s running time of two hours and 14 minutes.
This anomaly is, of course, due to the decision by Michael Giacchino – wearing his album producer hat – to include alternative versions of existing tracks from the 2016 original release, as well as previously unreleased tracks that were recorded and heard in the finished film but not in the 21-track album from six years ago.
Is This Reissue Worth Getting?
The quality of the music is, in my view, outstanding, not just for its aesthetic excellence and the score’s ability to stand on its own as an original Star Wars musical work that compares favorably with John Williams’ work for the main “Skywalker Saga” films, but also because Giacchino created and recorded the music we hear in this album under a tight deadline and a lot of pressure, especially since so much was riding on this first Star Wars film outside the Darth Vader-Luke Skywalker-Kylo Ren ennealogy.
If I didn’t already own Disney’s remastered reissues of the 1977-1983 Original Trilogy soundtracks – two of which were originally two-record sets – I would be amazed that CDs can now hold 57 tracks. I still have my 1990-era two-CD Polydor reissue of the original Star Wars soundtrack from 1977; its 2018 track-for-track reissue holds the same 16 tracks in one CD. As my late mother would have said, “It’s amazing what we can do with modern technology!”
Content wise, then, I think Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Expanded Edition gets a passing grade. The quality of the recording and sound mix is excellent, and the music sounds rich, bold, and exciting, almost as good as if you were present at the recording sessions with Giacchino and the studio orchestra in Los Angeles.
Where I think Walt Disney Records could have done a better job is with the physical album’s packaging and CD label design. Maybe the company believed that investing money on a new insert or CD label was a waste, considering that lots of music fans stream their music and don’t bother with CDs, although there are still many semi-Luddites or fans of physical media that buy either vinyl records – which have made a surprising comeback in the 21st Century – or compact discs.
Whatever the reasoning was, Disney did not alter the design of the 2016 CD package much. Sure, the track list on the reverse side of the CD “jewel box” is longer (by 36 tracks!), but otherwise, Walt Disney Records used essentially the same package of the original album, including the album cover/liner notes booklet and the red-on-black CD label atop the disc itself. There’s no Expanded Edition tag on the physical media edition; as I mentioned earlier, the digital album comes with a subtle visual addition so listeners who have both albums on their streaming libraries can tell which is which.
All things considered, though, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Expanded Edition) hits all the right Star Wars-y notes, musically speaking, and that’s what really matters to this fan. The Force is strong with Giacchino’s score, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
1 He’s Here for Us 3:21
2 A Long Ride Ahead 3:57
3 Wobani Imperial Labor Camp 0:57
4 There Are Spies Everywhere 2:16
5 The Detention of Jyn Erso 1:13
6 Jyn’s Interrogation 1:57
7 Mission to Jedha 2:00
8 Trust Goes Both Ways 2:46
9 When Has Become Now 2:00
10 Jyn’s Memories of Childhood 0:51
11 Jedha Arrival 2:49
12 Hearts of Kyber 0:57
13 Ambush in Jedha City 1:09
14 Jedha City Ambush 2:20
15 Let Them Pass in Peace (Part 1) 1:24
16 Let Them Pass in Peace (Part 2) 0:39
17 No Friends of the Empire 1:07
18 Imperial Departure 0:54
19 Reunion at Saw’s Hideout 0:46
20 Cassian’s Prison 0:19
21 Today of All Days 3:51
22 Star-Dust 3:48
23 An Imperial Test of Power 3:37
24 Apologies Are in Order 1:37
25 News from the Ashes 0:59
26 Approach to Eadu 1:19
27 No Trust Among Rebels 2:25
28 Jyn’s Path Is Clear 2:31
29 Confrontation on Eadu 8:09
30 Krennic’s Aspirations 4:17
31 Rebellions Are Built on Hope 2:55
32 A Rebel Change of Heart 1:53
33 Rogue One 2:06
34 Cargo Shuttle SW-0608 4:01
35 Good Luck Little Sister 2:49
36 What Brings You to Scarif 2:31
37 Are We Blind 1:33
38 Scrambling the Rebel Fleet 1:34
39 AT-ACT Assault 2:36
40 Finding A Way Through 3:36
41 Project Star-Dust 3:46
42 Entering the Imperial Archives 1:24
43 Get That Beach Under Control 1:13
44 The Master Switch 4:02
45 We Have to Press the Attack 2:40
46 Scarif Antenna Alignment 3:16
47 Your Father Would Be Proud 4:53
48 Hope 1:40
49 Jyn Erso and Hope Suite 5:53
50 The Imperial Suite 2:31
51 Guardians of the Whills Suite 2:52
52 Jyn Erso and Hope Suite (Alternate Opening) 6:02
53 Guardians of the Whills Suite (Alternate Ending) 2:23
54 A Long Ride Ahead (Alternate Ending) 3:59
55 Jedha City Ambush (Alternate) 1:11
56 Rebellions Are Built on Hope (Alternate) 2:57
57 Scarif Antenna Alignment (Alternate) 1:22
 It is not, however, the label’s first reissue of previous Star Wars soundtracks recorded by other record companies. In 2018, Walt Disney Records released the remastered original soundtracks from the 1977-1983 Classic Trilogy (as produced by 20th Century Records and RSO Records) and the 1999-2005 Sequel Trilogy (as produced by Sony Classical). However, Disney has not reissued the 1997 RCA Victor Special Edition expanded soundtracks for the Original Trilogy, perhaps because Sony Classical reissued them three times between 2004 and 2015 before losing the licensing rights to “the House of Mouse” at the end of that last year mentioned.