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John Powell

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John Powell is a famous British composer. He has composed the scores to over fifty feature films and is perhaps best known for composing soundtracks for animated movies. He has provided the original soundtrack for Chicken Run, Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda, Horton Hears a Who, and Ice Age but has also worked with a range of other genres. John Powell has worked with Disney as well, when he provided the soundtrack from the 2008 animated feature Bolt. John Powell has worked closely with many other famous musicians, such as Hans Zimmer.

Working with Bolt

The score of Bolt was composed by John Powell and was released on November 18, 2008, featuring 19 different songs. According to John Lasseter, John Powell was handpicked out of several potential composers because he had good experiences with providing music for animated movies. Given that animated films can go from comedy to drama and vice versa in just a matter of minutes, the composer must be very flexible to keep up. When composing for Bolt, Powell was also required to create a soundtrack that would fit the lively action scenes, as well as the sweet, calm and sentimental parts.

Bolt Soundtrack CD

The Bolt soundtrack by John Powell.

Consequently, when writing and composing the soundtrack for the movie, Powell experiment with many different tones and rhythms to create the contrasty soundtrack needed. The opening song titled “Meet Bolt”, is sweet, cute and ends up in a beautiful piano melody when Bolt and Penny meet for the first time. In the next song “Bolt transforms”, the overall tone changes dramatically as Powell experiments with different electronic and synthetic sounds to create a soundtrack that fits the lively action scenes from Bolt’s TV show.

In the movie, John Powell managed to reflect the story’s conflict between reality and fiction by providing the scenes taking place inside the studio with an over the-top electronic and artificial sounds to create a feeling of cold, fake unrealism, whereas the scenes focusing in Bolt’s relation to Penny and his adventuress in the real world is accompanied with warm tunes and acoustic instruments. John Powell also scored a special piano melody for the relationship between Bolt and Penny which is played when the puppy Bolt meets Penny for the first time, when the two characters are alone in Bolt’s trailer and in the end when Bolt saves Penny from the fire, in different versions. As such, this melody runs through the entire soundtrack.


Review for the movie soundtrack were generally positive. Scott Gwin, writer for, wrote about Powell’s work “The results couldn’t be better. Wherever Bolt goes, Powell faithfully follows. Whether the dog is in New York, Las Vegas or hitchhiking across the American Midwest, the composer finds music to match.

”Christopher Coleman from wrote that "Those who really connect to the film or those who are looking for yet another decent score from JOHN POWELL to feast upon will find that BOLT is a mostly satisfying soundtrack.

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