Score Spotlight | The Best Song from The Shape of Water

Welcome to The Score Spotlight, the sporadic series about my favourite songs from soundtracks both old and new.  Want to keep up to date with what I’m listening to? Then check out my Spotify playlist!

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If I spoke about it – if I did – what would I tell you? I wonder. Would I tell you about the melodies? It played them out with the sense of rolling waves, it seems. Inspired by the beauty and danger of the deep. Or would I tell you about the orchestra? A big group, but with the sound of one distant harmony. Or, I don’t know… Would I tell you about him? The composer fascinated by the water.

Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you about today;  we’re going back to my favourite film so far this year and its Best Soundtrack winning score. Let’s talk The Shape of Water! (You can find my review for it here!)

The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat
(go on, give it a play!)

Valentines Day 2018. After a splendid day about town with my Mum, we had headed to our local cinema to see The Shape of Water, a film I was very excited about as a fan of Del Toro’s work and for which I had chosen to avoid all the trailers. I had spotted that Alexandre Desplat had scored the film, which certainly filled me with confidence as well as intrigue since the two hadn’t worked together before. As soon as the lights dimmed and the film began, with the original song aptly also named The Shape of Water accompanying the serene underwater dream version of Elisa’s apartment in the opening ‘Prologue’, I knew this song and this score, and this film, would be a favourite of mine.

With a relatively simple arrangement, Desplat encapsulates the entire feel of this film; the motif of the harp, the first thing you hear, transports you underwater and floats in the background for the rest of the song. Desplat here truly does something I’ve only before heard Thomas Newman really perfect – in his scores for Wall-E and Finding Nemo – and that’s subtly depicting the tranquillity associated with water (or space if you’re Wall-E) through music. Adding the humanity to the song, an important theme of the film which Del Toro himself stated he wanted to be reflected somehow in the music, is the whistle. Then, of course, is the gorgeous accordion melody that highlights the fluidity of the piece as well as being reminiscent of typical Parisienne love songs, such as those by Yann Tiersen for Amelie from Montmartre. In short, this is a beautiful and calming song that captures everything the film is about and never fails to give me goosebumps.

Special mention

goes to Underwater Kiss, much for the same reasons as The Shape of Water. The song is a variation of Princess Without A Voice, and like that song there’s a bubbling, floating feeling that the piano manages to capture here, again highlighted by the harp. But the minor variation of the melody on the violins captures the tragedy of the scene. Ah! Simply perfect!

Did you enjoy the music of The Shape of Water?
Which song’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

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