John Williams is the soul of Star Wars.
From the genre-defining “Main Titles” to the ever-popular “Imperial March” to the soaring horns of “Binary Sunset,” his music unites generations of fans and gives the franchise its epic scale.
As Star Wars expands beyond the Skywalker Saga, a wealth of talented composers have stepped in to continue his legacy and establish a new sonic landscape for a galaxy far, far away.
From Clone Wars to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rogue One to Visions, feast your ears on the 16 best musical moments in Star Wars not penned by Grandmaster Williams.
“It’s Over Now” (Kevin Kiner – Rebels Season 2)
The season 2 finale of Star Wars Rebels took the show into a thrilling new territory, and so did the soundtrack. This heart-pounding piece plays as the Ghost crew comes to terms with Kanan’s blindness and as Ezra gives into the temptation of the Sith holocron. Talk about a cliffhanger.
“Guardians of the Whills Suite” (Michael Giacchino – Rogue One)
This ethereal reimagining of the “Force Theme,” both familiar and wholly original, perfectly exemplifies Rogue One’s fresh insight into classic Star Wars territory. The beginning also bears some resemblance to “Across the Stars” from Attack of the Clones, but with a more mystical (and less tragic) subtext.
“The Mandalorian” (Ludwig Goransson – The Mandalorian)
Need we say more? The instantly iconic main title established an entirely new kind of Star Wars sound, vastly different from the classic John Williams fanfare, to mark the beginning of a new venture for Star Wars, Lucasfilm, and Disney. Whose heart doesn’t thump along with the pulsing percussion at the 46-second mark?
“Ahsoka Leaves” (Kevin Kiner – The Clone Wars Season 5)
In the moment that broke fans’ hearts and made Anakin’s fall truly inevitable, Ahsoka walks away from the Jedi Order into the sunset of Coruscant, accompanied by a gorgeous, haunting theme of her own. With rich strings at the top and mellow woodwinds to conclude, it is both a lament and a stirring song of independence. (And check out Ludwig Goransson’s epic callback to this piece in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, entitled “Ahsoka Lives.”)
“The Book of Boba Fett” (Ludwig Goransson – The Book of Boba Fett)
Not everyone was enthusiastic about The Book of Boba Fett, but no one can argue that this theme slaps. And tell me you didn’t get hyped when the end credits of the final episode brought our dude’s name into the vocals! “FETT!”
“End Credits” (Kevin Kiner – The Bad Batch)
We first heard the Clone Force 99’s badass theme when they appeared in Season 7 of The Clone Wars, but the “End Credits” to The Bad Batch blends the boys’ theme with Omega’s theme, a hopeful motif that captures our girl’s spark and empathy. We can’t wait for more when Season 2 hits in January!
“Journey Into the Star Cluster” (Kevin Kiner – Rebels Season 2)
Rebels fans got so much good music in Season 2. The unearthly strings of “Journey into the Star Cluster” made the Ghost’s treacherous flight unforgettable as they searched for the new Lasat homeworld.
“Days of Alderaan” (Natalie Holt – Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Spending time on Alderaan was one of the many unexpected delights of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Natalie Holt’s bright, optimistic scoring of this moment made the doomed planet shine as the prosperous world Leia knew and loved. It was bittersweet, with the emphasis on sweet, to be sure.
“Cat and Mouse” (Natalie Holt – Obi-Wan Kenobi)
The last 30 seconds of this piece earn it a place on the list, and wow, do those seconds deliver. Holt’s grinding two-note theme to cut between a stunned Obi-Wan and a Bacta-submerged Vader capture the weight of the moment not just in the context of the story but also to the fans losing our minds over our first glimpse of Hayden Christensen back in the role.
“L3 and the Millennium Falcon” (John Powell – Solo)
The score from Solo isn’t among the more memorable in the Star Wars universe. Still, it was very satisfying to hear our favorite scoundrel get his own riff on the “Main Title” as the Millennium Falcon first became his to pilot.
“Cal Kestis” (Stephen Barton & Gordy Haab – Jedi: Fallen Order)
If any video game character deserves a solid theme, it’s fan-favorite Cal Kestis from Jedi: Fallen Order. Hopefully, the much-anticipated sequel, Jedi: Survivor, due in 2023, will follow up with more memorable characters and music to match. The opening woodwinds of Cal’s theme, followed by low strings and horns, evokes John Williams at his finest but adds unmistakable fresh air for the new story and new medium.
“The Duel” (Keiji Inai – Visions: The Duel)
A clear homage to “Duel of the Fates,” “The Duel” is just one of several excellent pieces Keiji Inai composed for the thrilling first chapter of Star Wars: Visions. “Ronin’s Theme” and “SIgn of deaTH” are equally dramatic, a fittingly bold kick-off to one of Lucasfilm’s most refreshing and innovative projects to date.
“A Desert of Two Sons” (Kevin Penkin – Visions: The Village Bride)
With a meditative and beautiful theme for one of the most meditative and beautiful episodes of Visions, composer Kevin Penkin negotiated a delicate balance between sweeping Williams-esque grandeur and a newer, more intimate soundscape.
“Kara and Father” (Nobuko Toda & Kazuma Jinnouchi – Visions: The Ninth Jedi)
Family is at the heart of Star Wars, and the music of “The Ninth Jedi” captures both the tenderness of the central relationship and the intense danger they find themselves embroiled in. Delicate flute and harp at the top merge into dissonant horns by the end as innocence gives way to conflict, and our young heroine learns that safety is fragile in this tumultuous galaxy.
“Start the Droids” (A-bee – Visions: T0-B1)
It’s about time droids got their own song! This delightful electronic piece from the most adorable Visions installment gave our robotic friends the musical tribute they deserve.
“Thoughts” (Yoshiaki Dewa – Visions: Lop & Ochō)
I admit I didn’t know what to make of a Star Wars story in which the lead is a rabbit, but Yoshiaki Dewa’s heartfelt scoring for “Lop & Ochō” provided a deep well of emotion for this surprisingly moving story of sisters. The driving percussion balanced with mournful winds makes “Thoughts” a standout of this episode.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.