The Musical Soul of Pixar’s “Blue Umbrella”

I wasn’t as impressed with Monsters University as I was hoping. It was a pleasant (and thanks to my son, a memorable) theatrical experience, but the backstory of Mike and Sully’s friendship lacked the emotional teeth I’ve come to (perhaps unfairly) expect from Pixar.

I was impressed by The Blue Umbrella, though. It was wonderfully made, ridiculously charming, and far more likely to stick with me than the feature it preceded. Its visual artistry was impressive, and a major source of that memorability. But for me, the single most decisive factor behind its undeniable indelibility was its score, composed by Jon Brion and featuring the ear-worming vocalizations of  Sarah Jaffe. It was a fantastic audio paring, and really helped cement the “look-and-feel” created by Saschka Unseld and his crew.

As someone who A) loves shorts, B) is obsessed with soundtracks, C) loved this short in particular, and D) whose love for this short was inseparably tied to my love for its soundtrack, I’m sure you’ll understand my embarrassment at the recent discovery that this Brion-Jaffe gem has been available from iTunes. For almost a month. And in both an original and an instrumental version, just to salt my wounds even more. (I prefer the original, because it reminds me most of the short. But the instrumental version may be a bit easier to listen to per se.)

So, enjoy. And marvel at how “sunny” the musical backdrop for a short film about umbrellas can be. And, I humbly suggest, purchase.  (Also, the tonal — heh! — shift at around the 2-minute mark is fantastic.)

HT to Big Screen Animation for reminding me of my distressing negligence.

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, being amazed by his (currently) lone daughter, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.


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