Awesome Music: The Land Before Time
aka: Land Before Time
The Land Before Time series has churned out a LOT of animation, and all of it— from the original Don Bluth masterpiece to the twelve Universal sequels to the TV show— is filled with great music.
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The Land Before Time (first film)
- The Land Before Time theme, written by James Horner and officially called "If We Hold On Together", is one of the best themes in animated film history. You'd be very, very, very hard pressed to find another song that draws such intense emotions out of people whenever they hear it. It's unforgettable, touching, and incredibly beautiful, and so versatile that it can display different emotions based on the instrument being used.
- There's the rich 'choir version' that's perhaps the most well known iteration from the original movie.
- There's the 'Whispering Winds' version that plays during sad scenes. It's most famously used in the scene where Littlefoot's mother dies.
- There's the sweet 'low string' version that's used in quiet, powerful moments, like when Littlefoot first lays eyes on the Great Valley.
- There's the 'credits version', sung beautifully by the legendary Diana Ross. There's also a very heart wrenching male version.
- Finally, there's the 'Cera-Ducky Duet' version in the credits of the first sequel.
- The orchestral piece that plays over the beginning when Littlefoot is born, The Great Migration. Childhood in 7:58 minutes.
The Land Before Time "Roy Allen Smith" era (films 2-4)
Starting with the first sequel, all of the films have had at least three songs. Exceptions are usually made for reprises. They are generally written by Michelle Brourman and Amanda Mcbroom, aside from a few cases of Early Installment Weirdness in the early sequels. Despite this, the first few Land Before Time sequels had some of the more memorable music in the series.
- The first sequels introduce a lot of themes scored by Michael Tavera that would later become staples through out the rest of the series.
- One is a jubilant, excited flute lick, which is frequently paired with a somber, slightly disappointed horn and string motif.
- One memorable theme that seems to be exclusive only to the earlier sequels is an soft, ominous, 'Dun dun Dun dun Duuuuuun' motif that seems to play whenever danger is near.
- The Great Valley Theme, which is present in many of the sequels.
- Really, all of Tavera's score. It manages to be as moving as Horner's, making it a redeeming quality of the sequels.
The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley AdventureThese songs are written by The Roaches.
- "Peaceful Valley" is a jubilant, catchy, and free spirited song, with the refrain 'What a beautiful feeling, we've finally found, a peaceful valley and everybody's having a good time now!'
- "One of Us Now" (no relation to the Lion King 2 song that has a similar name) is a fast-paced and catchy song, sung as the gang accepts baby Chomper into their little 'family'.
- "Eggs" is the first villain song in the series and a pretty good one. It has a lively rhythm and does a nice job establishing Ozzie as an obsessive villain and a different kind of threat than sharpteeth. note
The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great GivingHere, Michelle Brourman and Amanda Mcbroom make their first contribution.
- "Better When You're Big" is a very memorable villain song that has a simple but killer piano beat with backing horns. Probably the best villain song in the series.
- "Stand Tough" is another villain song, this time for resident Jerkass Mr. Threehorn.
- "Kids Like Us" is sung quite well (Scott Mcafee, Littlefoot's voice actor, does his own singing.)
The Land Before Time IV: Journey through the MistsThese songs are written by Leslie Bricusse.
- "Grandma Longneck's Lullaby" is a sad song, one of the only songs in the entire series that Marzgurl, in her review of the sequels, admitted she actually liked.
- "Who Needs You" is pretty funny, and was probably meant more for the parents watching than the kids. The two villains almost seem like a disgruntled sitcom couple, openly expressing their dislike of each other with some legitimately stinging zingers. Given that these two villains spew a lot of classic TV references over the course of the movie, this was probably intentional.
- "All Sorts" is a strong anti-racism statement which has an unusually rich melody by direct-to-DVD standards.
The Land Before Time "Theme" era (films 5-7)
These sequels each had a theme to them: the fifth film had a shipwrecked island theme, the sixth had a western theme, and the seventh had a space theme. This becomes especially evident in many of the songs. Starting with these sequels, Michelle and Amanda wrote all the songs for the series.
The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island
- "Big Water" is another catchy-as-hell song. For better or worse, once you hear it you will never get it out of your head. "Big, big, big, big, wa-ter..." It's had no fewer than two reprises, not including a few songs that share its melody! Also, as Marzgurl points out in her review, it has some very decent visuals.
- "Always There" is one of the best songs in the entire series. A longing, vulnerable lullaby with a wonderful piano and violin backing, this song also has a truly beautiful chorus:
Always there... Someone you can count on to comfort you... Always there... like a green, green valley, you can come home to.
- The song finishes with a spine-tingling verse from Littlefoot about his mother— the first mention of her since the first movie.
- "Friends For Dinner" is a very amusing Love It or Hate It song with a catchy steel drum backing. The droning, almost sarcastic tone the kids sing it in and the multiple (and given the time period, impossible) food related puns make it good for a chuckle, albeit perhaps a rather uneasy one.
The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock
- "The Lone Dinosaur" is a cowboy track that accurately captures the feel of the Wild West. Admitedly, that isn't what the series is about, and lyrically nothing about the song is actually true, but Michelle and Amanda's gift for melody comes out well, and instrumental, it's quite beautiful (unusual for cowboy songs like this).
- "Bad Luck" is another love-it or hate-it jazzy/western song, that some will find an overall awesome musical moment and other will find obnoxious.
- "On Your Own" is a simple, sad bar song that nails the "lonely saloon" vibe with its piano backing.
The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire
- "Beyond the Mysterious Beyond" is cosmic. Notable for its particularly striking chorus harmony. And the fact that it's technically being sung by aliens.
- "Very Important Creature" is yet another great villain song, this time for Petrie's uncle Pterano, along with his henchmen Rinkus and Sierra. With its powerful instrumentation and melody, and Michael York's surprisingly amazing performance, it's quite impressive.
The Land Before Time "Full CG" era. (Films 8-10)
Staring with the eighth film, all Land Before Time films were done entirely with computer generated animation. These three are considered some of the best of the sequels, particularly number ten.
The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze
- "Family": A touching song about Ducky and the gang coming to grips over one of the gang leaving them, and whether they were actually family or not.
The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water
- "Chanson D'Ennui" is a very good song, despite the fact that it's about being bored. The title is French for 'the song of boredom', and marks a major uptick in the production values of the music.
- "Imaginary Friends" is another song that people either love or hate. Aside from being a lot more kiddie than usual, however, the song itself is very well done, with great singing by the main cast.
- "No One Has To Be Alone" is an excellent, smooth tune about the unalienable gifts of life. It uses a warbling flute motif and some great singing on Littlefoot's part. There's a version during the credits that's sung by Donny Osmond.
The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration
- "Adventuring" is a triumphant song that underlines the main theme of the entire series: going on adventures.
- "Bestest Friends" is one of the best songs in the entire series. It's a heartbreaking but warm assurance to Littlefoot that, should he choose to stay with his father's herd instead of return with them to the valley, the gang will still always be his friend. It has great lyrics, uses a strong piano and violin backing, and Cera gives a particularly stunning high octave vocal performance in some parts.
Land Before Time "Later" era (films 11-13)
Considering how strong entry number ten was, the final three films are usually grouped together as 'latter day' sequels ("The Wisdom of Friends" being the one that is generally hated, while the other two merely having the unfortunate luck of coming after the tenth film).
The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses
- "Girls and Dads" conjures up images of spotlights and broadway stages. Mostly awesome just for Cera's singing.
The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day Of the Fliers
- "Flip Flap Fly" may just be the most epic song in the entire series in terms of scale. Literally, the whole valley gets in on this song. It has the same kind of happy, sing-along feel to it that the songs of film two had.
- "Things Change" has awkward lyrics, but Cera's emotional, bitter vocals easily make up for it.
The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends
Land Before Time "Renewed" era (films 14-present)
The current sequel era, marked by the fourteenth film's release after an almost eight year series hiatus.
The Land Before Time XIV: Journey of the Brave
- Not since Diana Ross's rendition of 'If We Hold On Together' has there been such a big name on a Land Before Time song as 'Look For the Light' being sung by country superstar Reba McEntire, and it shows. The sharp organ riff and Reba's bluesy delivery make this a very well sung gospel tune.
The Land Before Time TV series
The voice actors for the TV series were chosen more for their consistency than their singing voices, which means the singing quality is usually not as impressive as in the films. Just as the sequel films felt obligated to put exactly three songs in each movie, the TV series put two songs in each episode. Many of these were rehashes of songs from previous episodes or songs from the movies. Despite this, there are a few stand outs.
- The title theme is bouncy and memorable, with some great African-spiritual vocals and some good lyrics. It fits the opening animation very well, and musically speaking it's probably the most awesome thing to come out of the TV show.
- Some renditions of "My Remembering" are quite nice, particularly when it's first sung by Ruby. Grandpa's version gets points purely for being sung over an image of Littlefoot's mother as a child.
- "It's Not Fair" gives a surprise foray into rock territory by being backed by electric guitars, which is always awesome.
- "Feel So Happy" is a nice song, but what makes it awesome is that it actually got Doc, of all people, to sing.
- None of the renditions of "Adventuring" hold a candle to the original version from The Great Longneck Migration, but it's still a triumphant tune nonetheless.