Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ original score for Soul took home the award for Best Original Score at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards. Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste was also honored for his contributions to the Pixar movie, and Soul itself nabbed the trophy for Best Animated Feature Film.
“This is the first work of art I’ve ever made that I can show to my kids,” Reznor said in his acceptance speech.
The Nine Inch Nails members actually received two nominations in the category, as the duo’s score for Mank was also among the five finalists. Other nominees included Ludwig Göransson (Tenet), Alexandre Desplat (The Midnight Sky), and James Newton Howard (News of the World).
For Reznor and Ross, their first-ever score for an animated children’s film was a totally new experience. “We scored about six different movies,” Reznor said in an interview with Consequence of Sound. He explained,
“There’s a childlike enthusiasm and positivity and openness, where quite frequently during the process, we would start working with very rough animated storylines that do a surprisingly good job of conveying watching the film, with temp voice acting and temp music, and you get a real sense of what the picture’s going to be like. And they’ll show an animatic to the entire team, and I mean hundreds of people and Pete Docter [writer-director of Soul] would sit for three hours and listen to every comment. “Did you like this? Did you like that? That makes sense. Fill up this part.” And two months later, there’s a movie that might have a radically different ending or middle or new character that comes into the meeting. And that’s kind of the fluid process that there might not be later on if you were filming actors on a set.
As we started early on, it’s like, ‘I can’t wait to see this character’ … that doesn’t exist because he’s not even in the film anymore. Or this expansive moment where you’re watching a beautiful scene for a minute and a half, which is now three seconds, because a joke popped up, and now it’s a different thing… I remember getting a call from Pete at one point. Probably halfway through when the plot was starting to get nailed down, and he called not to talk about the music we’d done but to be like, “Hey, what do you think about…? You’ve seen the film. Do you know what it’s about? Do you think that’s a believable reaction that the main character would have had? How do you feel?” We were talking about the scene when he was on stage and he walks out. The lights and the billboard go off from the marquee, and he’s still alone and didn’t fix anything. I thought for probably half an hour about that. Then I started to see that it felt great to be included not just as music people that they needed but as collaborators whose input and DNA started to inhabit the picture. It was a cool process.”
The duo shared the award with Batiste, who not only arranged and composed the jazz sections, but also modeled playing the music for the animators. At one of the recording sessions, Batiste performed for over 30 cameras, and his gestures helped make the animated character’s movements more realistic.
This marks Reznor and Ross’ second time winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Score; they received their first trophy in 2011 for The Social Network. They also received Golden Globe nominations in 2012 for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and in 2014 for Gone Girl.
As part of our 2020 Annual Report, Consequence of Sound named Reznor and Ross Composers of the Year. In a corresponding interview, they spoke about their long-running musical partnership, utilizing old instruments to craft the sounds heard on Mank, composing their first-ever animated score for Soul, and more. Revisit the interview here.
Below, listen to Batiste discuss his contributions to Soul and working with Reznor and Ross during a recent appearance on Kyle Meredith With…