How to Train Your Dragon: Music from the Motion Picture

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How to Train Your Dragon: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedMarch 23, 2010
LabelVarèse Sarabande
ProducerJohn Powell
John Powell chronology
Green Zone
How to Train Your Dragon: Music from the Motion Picture
Knight and Day
Singles from How to Train Your Dragon: Music from the Motion Picture
  1. "Sticks & Stones"
    Released: March 23, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon: Music from the Motion Picture is a soundtrack album composed by John Powell for the film of the same name and released by Varèse Sarabande on March 23, 2010. The score earned Powell his first Academy Award nomination and his third BAFTA nomination, which he lost to The Social Network and The King's Speech, respectively. The score also won the International Film Music Critics Association 2011 Awards for Best Original Score for an Animated Feature and Film Score of the Year, and was nominated twice for Film Music Composition of the Year for the tracks "Forbidden Friendship" and "Test Drive".[1][2] The soundtrack received wide acclaim from professional music critics.


How to Train Your Dragon was composer John Powell's sixth collaboration with DreamWorks Animation. Powell had scored many of DreamWorks' previous films, but this was the first of DreamWorks' films where Powell helmed the score on his own (on his previous efforts with DreamWorks, he had collaborated with other composers such as Harry Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer). Zimmer had long praised Powell's abilities, and on many occasions, asserted that he was the superior composer between them, thus firmly supporting Powell's first solo animation effort.[3] For the score, Powell utilized many Celtic influences, employing instruments like the fiddle, bagpipes, dulcimer, pennywhistle, and even a harpsichord.

Icelandic singer Jónsi was brought on to write and record the song "Sticks & Stones", which plays during the end credits of the film.

In an interview with The Wrap's Steve Pond, Powell talked about his intent for the score:

"I was certainly trying to get a bit more epic. I just felt the animation and the visuals were giving me a broader palette to play with. As a kid I remember watching The Vikings with Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas, and I always liked that score.

[The directors] were really very specific a lot of the time. They did want size and depth and emotion. They wanted a feeling of the Nordic musical past. You could say the symphonic musical past was Nielson, the Danish symphonist. Sibelius. Grieg to a certain extent, although I think he was a little bit more Germanic than he was Nordic.

Sibelius was the key. I studied a lot of Sibelius as a kid, and I've always adored his music. So that, plus it was great to have Jónsi do a song at the end of the movie, because I've always liked [moody Icelandic band] Sigur Rós. They were an influence as well, even though that seems paradoxical. But there is that in a few cues—heavy, dark guitar textures going on at the same time as large orchestration.

We looked at all the folk music from the Nordic areas. And I'm part Scottish and grew up with a lot of Scottish folk music, so that came into it a lot. And Celtic music was something that Jeffrey [Katzenberg] felt had this very attractive quality to it, and a sweetness, that he thought would be wonderful for the film."[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars
Film Music MagazineA
Film Score Click Track5/5 stars
Filmtracks5/5 stars
Movie Music UK5/5 stars
Tracksounds10/10 stars

The score was exceptionally well-received, earning universal praise from professional film score critics and fans alike. Powell earned a BAFTA nomination for his work as well as his first Oscar nomination, losing both nominations to Alexandre Desplat for his score for The King's Speech,[5] and to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their score for The Social Network, respectively.[6] The music also won an Annie Award for the Best Music in a Feature Production from the International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood.[7]

Christian Clemmensen, founder of and member of the IFMCA, praised the score, saying that "Powell has finally managed to create a well rounded and more easily digestible variation on his typical mannerisms for How to Train Your Dragon." He however criticized the use of Scottish and Irish tones in a score meant for Vikings, as well as the Jónsi song "Sticks & Stones", which he felt "[drained] all the enthusiasm out of the environment created by Powell." However, Clemmensen still awarded the score the highest rating of five stars,[3] and later listed the score as one of the Top Five of the year.[8]

Other reviewers expressed similar opinions about the score. Jonathan Broxton, founder of Movie Music UK and another member of the IFMCA said: "It’s very rare that one can listen to an entire 70+ minute album and honestly say that all of them have musical merit, but that is genuinely the case here. Usually scores of this length have a fair amount of filler, […] but on How to Train Your Dragon every cue has worth."[9] Archie Watt from MovieCues said: "I sincerely hope that Powell’s work will be rewarded with an Oscar in 2011. It couldn’t be more deserved—the score is by far the best of the year to date, and I can’t foresee any other score taking that accolade from this masterpiece."[10] Both reviewers named it as the Best Score of the Year.[11][12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards Academy Award for Best Original Score John Powell Nominated
Annie Awards Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Won
British Academy Film Awards BAFTA Award for Best Film Music Nominated
International Film Music Critics Association Film Score of the Year Won
Best Original Score for an Animated Feature
Film Music Composition of the Year John Powell - "Forbidden Friendship" Nominated
John Powell - "Test Drive"
Saturn Awards Saturn Award for Best Music John Powell
World Soundtrack Academy World Soundtrack Award for Soundtrack Composer of the Year
World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Song Written Directly for a Film Jón Þór Birgisson

Track listing[edit]

1."This Is Berk"4:10
2."Dragon Battle"1:54
3."The Downed Dragon"4:16
4."Dragon Training"3:10
6."The Dragon Book"2:22
7."Focus, Hiccup!"2:05
8."Forbidden Friendship"4:10
9."New Tail"2:47
10."See You Tomorrow"3:53
11."Test Drive"2:36
12."Not So Fireproof"1:12
13."This Time for Sure"0:43
14."Astrid Goes for a Spin"0:43
15."Romantic Flight"1:56
16."Dragon's Den"2:29
17."The Cove"1:10
18."The Kill Ring"4:28
19."Ready the Ships"5:13
20."Battling the Green Death"6:18
21."Counter Attack"3:05
22."Where's Hiccup?"2:43
23."Coming Back Around"2:51
24."Sticks & Stones" (Written and performed by Jónsi)4:17
25."The Vikings Have Their Tea"2:03
Total length:72:12


  1. ^ "IFMCA announces its 2010 Winners for scoring excellence". International Film Music Critics Association. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  2. ^ "IFMCA announces its 2010 Nominees for scoring excellence". International Film Music Critics Association. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b Clemmensen, Christian. "How to Train Your Dragon Review". Filmtracks. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  4. ^ Steve Pond (2011). "John Powell Goes Epic to Score 'Dragon'". Retrieved 2011-03-17.
  5. ^ "2011 Film Awards Winners and Nominees". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Archived from the original on 10 January 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Winners and Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  7. ^ "38th Annual Annie Nominations". International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood. Archived from the original on 4 December 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  8. ^ "2010 Awards".
  9. ^ Broxton, Jonathan. "HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON – John Powell". Jonathan Broxton. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  10. ^ Watt, Archie. "How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell)". Archie Watt. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  11. ^ Broxton, Jonathan. "Movie Music UK Awards 2010". Jonathan Broxton. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  12. ^ Watt, Archie. "MovieCues Awards 2010". Archie Watt. Retrieved 29 March 2011.

External links[edit]