Everybody knows the Rocky theme. Just the first few blasts of Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” can quicken pulses and make people feel bad for skipping their morning workout. Chances are you’re humming it in your head right now.
For Creed, the new movie that builds on the Rocky legacy by introducing the son of Apollo Creed, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), who travels to Philadelphia to be trained by Rocky Balboa himself, the director, Ryan Coogler, and Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson had their work cut out for them. “They played [the Rocky theme song] everywhere,” says Göransson, in a exclusive new featurette, “Creed: Scoring a Legend.” “Sports games. They played it in clubs, ’cause it’s kind of a disco. It’s such a theme song of an underdog. But it takes you to so many different places. By the end of it, you didn’t really need to see the picture in front of you. You can just hear the music, and you had immediately that sense or that feeling. That is something that I would like to do with Creed.”
Coogler and Göransson met at film school, and they collaborated on Fruitvale Station. “Ryan told me seven years ago at USC when we were in school together that, ‘Yeah, the second movie I’m going to do is going to be a boxing movie,'” says Göransson. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, okay, cool.’ … Next thing I know, he’s writing the new Rocky movie.”
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Writing the score for Creed, on the other hand, came together in a might tighter timecrunch. Initially, Göransson sampled all sorts of boxing-gym related acoustic atmosphere to mix into something completely original, but with just three weeks left before recording, he decided to start over and blend the old with the new. The impetus? He and Coogler went to see Straight Outta Compton, and the men were so fired up by the anticipation and ultimate presentation of N.W.A.’s most popular songs. Creed just had to have the Rocky theme. “[We] had to go through the different places to get to where we landed on,” says Coogler. “And I think we landed on something really, really special.”
Creed is out in theaters now, and the soundtrack is available here.