Various Artists, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Soundtrack" (Columbia Records/Madison Gate Records)
Even Oscar-winning composers can use a little help once in a while.
So it makes sense that Hans Zimmer created his own band of superhero hitmakers, including white-hot Pharrell, to work on "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" soundtrack. The so-called Magnificent Six -- which besides Pharrell includes Johnny Marr, Michael Einziger, Junkie XL, Andrew Kawczynski and Steve Mazzaro -- works magic with Zimmer and helps him weave a strong musical accompaniment to the plot.
The score matches the hero's character and journey -- from the playful yet ominous "The Electro Suite" to the sinister orchestral-electro hybrid "My Enemy" to "We're Best Friends," which is highlighted by its unusual tempo.
The 20-track album's crowning glory is the Pharrell co-penned "It's On Again," where Alicia Keys' warm vocals provide a stark contrast to Kendrick Lamar's growly tones. It's an energetic tune that starts off with a hard electric guitar before getting enveloped by catchy pop beats.
Phosphorescent's ballad "Song for Zula" is aided by cascades of violins, while LIZ's impish funk "That's My Man" claps itself into a loop of joy. Pharrell's earnest vocals on the slow groove "Here" lull you into a sense of emotional security -- we all know Peter and Gwen break up in this film -- while Czarina Russell brings a classic rock sound to the proceedings on "Within the Web (First Day Jam)," just enough to inject hard edge into the album's overall pop feel.
Zimmer and the Magnificent Six's collaboration elevates the comic-book hero to heights he wouldn't get to by relying on his superpowers alone.