Jungle Cruise – James Newton Howard

Disney and James Newton Howard are apparently getting along very well business-wise. After a superb score for Raya and the Last Dragon earlier this year, he also wrote the music for the high-profile Disney movie Jungle Cruise. This movie is based on an attraction that can be found in many Disney-themed parks. The movie is also an adventure movie, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones, and has leading roles for Dwayne Johnson as Frank and Emily Blunt as Lily. For the musical style, Howard created a fully orchestral score. There are some other instruments to be heard, like Spanish guitars, electric guitars, drums and flutes, but the majority of the music is performed by a full orchestra.

There are two major highlights to be found on the album. The first is a suite containing most of the themes, which is the first track on the album with the title “Jungle Cruise Suite.” In this eight-minute track you can hear like seven or eight themes developed for most of the characters and concepts in the movie, starting with the playful-sounding themes for Frank and Lily and near the end, you can listen to the gorgeous theme representing the treasure Frank and Lily have been looking for. This last theme is wonderfully written in a specific style that only James Newton Howard can do. It can be prominently heard halfway in “Petal Negotiations.”

The second highlight is quite an interesting one. I heard the score for the first time on Spotify during one of my lunch walks, and suddenly I started to hear Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” I thought my Spotify switched to a different playlist, or to my personal music collection on the phone, but apparently there was a collaboration between Metallica and Howard for an instrumental version of the song for the movie, which can be heard in “Nothing Else Matters (Jungle Cruise version)” part one and part two. The song is used in a sequence in the movie, and Howard’s personal touch to it is absolutely stunning, but the song itself felt a bit out of place in the movie. There is not really a connection between this song and the rest of the music.
The music Howard has written is very reactive to what is happening on the screen. The album does, in addition to the highlights I have already mentioned, contain many short tracks with that reactive style of music. You can hear some excellent implementations of the themes, but sometimes, especially during some of the action scenes, the reactive music overstays its welcome a bit, if you just want to listen to the music without seeing the movie. But with that said, I do think that James Newton Howard has written a wonderful score. It is rare that the soundtrack for an action movie is fully orchestral, and as a bonus has many amazing theme integrations. The music for Jungle Cruise is another wonderful score by film music veteran James Newton Howard.

Listen or buy

  • Buy this soundtrack digitally from Amazon.com or Apple Music
  • Listen to this soundtrack on Spotify


The highlights are in bold.

  1. Jungle Cruise Suite (8:20)
  2. Nothing Else Matters (Jungle Cruise version, pt. 1) (1:26)
  3. Breaking Into the Archives (4:02)
  4. Stop Her! (2:33)
  5. A Steamer to Brazil (1:56)
  6. Jungle Cruise (1:53)
  7. Nilo (1:12)
  8. Frank Breaks In (1:18)
  9. Preparing to Set Sail (2:53)
  10. Market Chase (2:45)
  11. Sub Attack (2:14)
  12. Encantado (1:18)
  13. The Rapids (3:42)
  14. Lily Snoops (2:29)
  15. Trader Sam (1:24)
  16. The Tree Fight (5:56)
  17. Lily Finds Frank (1:17)
  18. Joachim and the Bees (1:10)
  19. Nothing Else Matters (Jungle Cruise version, pt. 2) (4:29)
  20. I Built a Boat (2:00)
  21. La Luna Rota (1:23)
  22. Underwater Puzzle (4:35)
  23. Petal Negotiations (3:43)
  24. Conquistadors Arrive (2:38)
  25. One Last Cruise (1:19)
  26. I Want You to Rest Now (3:46)
  27. Absolutely Exhausting (1:00)

Total length: 1 hour and 12 minutes
Walt Disney Records (2021)

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