When a film franchise is as big as Star Wars (and if I'm being honest, there's no franchise as big as Star Wars except Star Wars), a lot of things from the films become iconic. Lightsabers, the Evil Empire, and the Force are literally known by everyone, and the music by John Williams is arguably the most memorable in all of cinema. But in addition to Williams' grandiose tracks like the "Star Wars Theme" and "The Imperial March", there's also his jazzy little number heard in the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, normally referred to as "Cantina Band". The song is ridiculously catchy, and it's impossible not to picture a bar full of strange creatures upon hearing it. But The Force Awakens also features a cantina scene, and some new music to go along with it. So how do the cantina songs in The Force Awakens compare to that in the original Star Wars?
For one thing, The Force Awakens' cantina music wasn't written by Williams. According to writer/director J.J. Abrams, Williams wanted to focus solely on scoring the film, and instructed him to find someone else to pen the tunes heard in Maz Kanata's bar. And find someone he did, in Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda, who co-wrote the new cantina music with Abrams. But how does it stack up against the eternal "Cantina Band"?
Quite well, actually. There are two new tracks heard in Maz Kanata's place: "Jabba Flow" and "Dobra Doompa", and they have a distinctly island-like, reggae feel that makes me wonder if Maz Kanata serves drinks with umbrellas in them at her bar. They're far more mellow and laid back than "Cantina Band" ever thought of being, and fit the scene of a bunch of scum lounging around perfectly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they're an entirely different genre altogether than "Cantina Band" (whose genre is called jizz in case you're wondering... seriously). They do, however, somewhat echo the second song heard in the original Star Wars' cantina scene, the steel drum-tinged track inventively dubbed "Cantina Band #2".
Unfortunately, neither "Dobra Doompa" nor "Jabba Flow" has been officially released yet, and I couldn't even find a bootleg copy of "Dobra Doompa" online for comparative purposes (not that I searched for one or anything). However, I did come across an excellent cover of "Jabba Flow" by YouTube user woolfishband, which you can listen to below and decide for yourself whether or not it can hold a candle to "Cantina Music".
Time will tell if these new cantina songs will achieve the same status of the legendary "Cantina Band", but I definitely know what I'll be listening to the next time I stop into a 1,000 year old alien's castle for a drink.