Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Soundtrack, James Hannigan, 2007
There is some irony to the fact that in several interviews, James Hannigan voiced his concern about film scores by default overshadowing the music written for the game adaptation. If anything, Hannigan’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix soundtrack is the opposite case. Nicholas Hooper’s movie soundtrack was largely deemed underwhelming. Meanwhile, Hannigan garnered praise for his game score that in the eyes of many was the superior work. Indeed, it hits almost all the right notes for a sweeping, yet relatable fantasy epic like the Harry Potter series. Hannigan achieves a perfect balance between humour, magic and gravitas, mixing moods and orchestral colours masterfully. The only thing missing might be a more pervading sense of adventure and romanticism. Fortunately, this is something that Hannigan would address on The Half-Blood Prince.
Stylistically, Hannigan’s lushly orchestrated and meticulously crafted compositions don’t deviate from a certain generic fantasy sound one would expect from a soundtrack like this. This is not a work like Everquest II, out to expand and subvert genre conventions. Then again, on an assignment like this – writing for the sixth entry in a game series with an established sound world – upending expectations was never the aim. Instead, Hannigan’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix soundtrack fits snugly into the franchise’s musical history. At the same time, it is most definitely not a copycat of its illustrious predecessors.