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TV & Film: A Look at the Music of Star Wars – Sequel Trilogy

Welcome back to another look at the music of Star Wars!

In the first two parts of this series, I talked about my favourite tracks from the Star Wars original and Star Wars prequel trilogies. Today, I’m closing things out with the finale of the Skywalker saga: the sequel trilogy.

While the sequel trilogy is divisive amongst some fans, it still introduced Star Wars to a whole new generation. We met some new characters along the way and welcomed back some old ones as well. However, the battle between the light and dark side raged on.

As always, I will talk about my top four songs from each Star Wars movie and list a few honourable mentions. So, for the final time, sit back, relax, and grab your headphones as we travel back to everyone’s favourite galaxy far, far away!

Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Rey’s Theme

Starting things off is the theme of our main heroine.

When we meet Rey in The Force Awakens, she is an orphaned scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku. She is optimistic her parents will return to get her one day, though she knows deep down they aren’t coming back. Once she rescues BB-8 and meets ex-First Order stormtrooper, Finn, she sets out on an adventure that changes her life forever.

Rey’s Theme is an accurate depiction of her character, especially in The Force Awakens. There is a feeling of optimism and childlike innocence, as well as a sense of adventure. From the start of the track, you know you’re about to experience something exciting.

This quickly became one of my favourite themes in the Star Wars universe. It’s impressive how John Williams was able to craft something that fit Rey so well. As we witness her journey throughout the sequel trilogy, her theme still reminds us of where she came from.

Han and Leia

Up next is a moment between everyone’s favorite princess and space scoundrel.

After the First Order attacks Maz Kanata’s cantina on Takodana, the Resistance arrives to save the day. The First Order eventually retreats, and Leia, now a general, reunites with Han Solo after several years apart. The two became estranged after their son, Ben, (now Kylo Ren) fell to the dark side.

The track starts off softly with Princess Leia’s Theme, followed by her and Han’s love theme. Then it quickly transitions to the Resistance Theme, a reminder of the war still raging on. It is a perfect mix of love and conflict rolled into one track.

Hearing this for the first time brought back so much nostalgia. Getting to see the original characters again is what makes The Force Awakens so great. The same goes for the music too, and Han and Leia is a great example of that.

The Ways of the Force (Film Edit)

Then we move on to a track with another call-back to the original trilogy.

The Ways of the Force plays during the fight scene between Kylo Ren, Rey, and Finn. Ren knocks Rey out, then incapacitates Finn before attempting to retrieve Anakin Skywalker’s lightsabre. However, Rey gets it to come to her, and her and Ren battle on the collapsing planet.

Right away, fans will recognize Burning Homestead playing from A New Hope. Just like Luke, this scene signals the beginning of Rey’s journey to becoming a Jedi. While the rest of the track is not grand like Battle of the Heroes, it still conveys the intensity of Rey and Ren’s battle. The mixing of their themes, along with the Force theme, proves just how connected they will be as the trilogy progresses.

Every time the beginning part plays, I always get the chills. It gives you that same feeling that Burning Homestead gives you in A New Hope. This scene and track easily create one of the more iconic moments in Star Wars.

The Jedi Steps and Finale

Finally, we look at the closing track of The Force Awakens.

With the map to Luke Skywalker complete, Rey’s adventure takes her to the island of Ahch-To. There, she finally meets her hero and presents him with Anakin’s lightsabre.

As she traverses the numerous steps to get to Luke, the track slowly builds until we hear the Force theme. After that, just like the scene, it leaves us on a cliff-hanger as the typical ending theme hits. We get the closing mix after, which features several themes from the movie. It then ends with a fantastic mix of Rey’s Theme and the Force theme.

The anticipation was palpable hearing this in the theatre for the first time. I remember everyone holding their collective breath the moment we saw Luke again. The Jedi Steps and Finale helps add to that suspense, and then ends in the usual grand fashion. But without a doubt, the ending of the track—the mix of Rey’s Theme and the Force theme—is one of the most underrated pieces of music in the saga. Overall, the track is a fantastic ending to the start of the sequel trilogy.

(Honorable mentions: The Falcon, The Star Killer, March of the Resistance, Farewell and The Trip)

Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The Cave

Kicking off my selections for The Last Jedi is a sombre but intense track.

While on Ahch-To, Rey struggles with a temptation towards the dark side. She eventually finds herself drawn to a mysterious cave on the island. Upon entering, she believes it will show her what she needs to see: her parents. Unfortunately, she ends up leaving with more questions than answers.

The Cave’s tone only adds to the scene. It doesn’t need to be loud or bombastic; sometimes a quiet but serious sound gets the job done. With each passing note the tension rises, leaving listeners on the edge of their seats.

This scene is one of the best in The Last Jedi, and The Cave is a big reason why. Many speculated about who Rey’s parents were and thought they would get answers here. In the track, it’s almost like you can feel everyone hold their breaths in anticipation. But, like Rey, they didn’t get what they wanted.

“Chrome Dome”

Next is a showdown between a former stormtrooper and a remorseless leader.

Thanks to Vice Admiral Haldo’s sacrifice, the First Order fleet is crippled. As the Dreadnought, Supremacy, burns around them, Finn and Captain Phasma engage in a battle that was a long time coming. While Phasma put up a fight, Finn managed to gain the upper hand and defeat his former commander once and for all.

“Chrome Dome”—as Finn calls Phasma—packs quite a punch for only a two-minute track. The drums throughout provide an imposing and brutal tone, much like Phasma herself. It adds weight to the already chaotic fight scene.

Despite how short it is, “Chrome Dome” is still a great track. Its impact can certainly be felt in the fight scene between Finn and Phasma. Watching them battle as Supremacy burns around them is already awesome but adding the music to it takes it to a whole new level.

The Battle of Crait

Then comes another battle track with a very familiar call-back.

After temporarily escaping the First Order, the last remnants of the Resistance land on Crait. They find an abandoned Rebel base, complete with an almost impenetrable door. However, the First Order arrives and brings a siege cannon capable of blasting right through the Resistance defences. Finn, Rose, and Poe make one last attempt to stop the cannon from firing, with help from Rey and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon.

Halfway through The Battle of Crait, we hear the familiar Ben Kenobi’s Death/TIE Fighter Attack from A New Hope. It’s another great callback that seamlessly fits into the scene.

As soon as I heard Ben Kenobi’s Death/TIE Fighter Attack come on, I was once again hit with nostalgia. Seeing the Millennium Falcon evading the TIE Fighters on Crait brought back the same feelings I had from watching A New Hope. It helps make The Battle of Crait that much better.

Peace and Purpose

My final pick for The Last Jedi is one of the more emotional tracks in the saga.

All hope seems lost for the Resistance; the First Order is closing in on them and no one answered their distress signal on Crait. That is until Luke Skywalker arrives and confronts Kylo Ren and the First Order. By projecting himself from Ahch-To to Crait, he distracts Ren and gives the Resistance time to escape. Afterwards, he finally achieves peace and becomes one with the Force.

The opening harkens back to Binary Sunset and the Force theme before giving way to a militaristic version of Ren’s theme. Things soften up and transition to Rey’s Theme and the Force theme before conveying a sense of hope at the end.

Peace and Purpose is a very moving track, along with the scene it’s played in. It’s a fitting end to Luke’s journey, ending almost the exact same way it began.

(Honorable mentions: Fun with Finn and Rose, The Sacred Jedi Texts, A New Alliance, The Last Jedi)

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker

Journey to Exegol

We begin my picks for The Rise of Skywalker with one of the first tracks of the movie.

Kylo Ren travels to Exegol to destroy the resurrected Emperor Palpatine and become the true leader of the Sith. However, Palpatine reveals that he created Snoke to lure Ren to the dark side. He then unveils the Final Order, a massive fleet of planet-destroying Star Destroyers, and orders Ren to kill Rey.

The drums, horns, and Ren’s Theme at the start create an erratic and intense atmosphere. They then give way for the foreboding Imperial March, signalling the impending doom.

Right from the beginning, I think this sets the stage for the movie very well. Journey to Exegol, along with Palpatine’s return, helps show just how massive the stakes are for not just the Resistance, but the entire galaxy as well. 

The Rise of Skywalker

Up next is a track that, unlike most in the saga, isn’t all doom and gloom.

Rather, The Rise of Skywalker brings a sense of peace and positivity. With the First Order gone for good, the galaxy can finally breathe and start anew. This track certainly proves that, sounding brighter and happier in a grandiose way.

Hearing this never fails to put a smile on my face. While a lot of tracks in the saga are sombre, this one conveys a type of optimism that only arises from defeating the dark side. With good prevailing, there is a sense of hope for what the future has in store.

Reunion

Now we move on to another positive track.

Much like in Return of the Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker sees good prevail over evil. With the First Order and Palpatine finally defeated for good, celebrations ring out all over the galaxy. After destroying the Final Order fleet, the Resistance returns to Ajan Kloss and celebrates their victory.

John Williams brilliantly mixes several different themes to create an uplifting and celebratory track. We hear the Force theme and Rey’s Theme, as well as the return of the Ewok’s Theme, Yoda’s Theme, and Luke and Leia’s Theme. It helps drive home the feeling of victory and a time of peace for the galaxy.

By this point in the movie, I was already in tears. Hearing Reunion play in this scene just added to the waterworks. It’s beautifully put together and really helps drive home the fact that the galaxy’s outlook is brighter than ever.

A New Home

Here we are, my final pick for The Rise of Skywalker.

Rey travels to Tatooine after the Battle of Exegol. There, she visits Luke’s old home before burying his and Leia’s lightsabres in the sand. It’s very fitting to see the Skywalker saga end where it began.

A New Home, like several other tracks in the movie, provides a calming sense of peace. After all this time, Rey has finally found her identity. She may be a Palpatine by blood, but she found a true sense of belonging as a Skywalker.

It may be short—one minute and 49 seconds to be exact—but A New Home is filled with plenty of emotion. I love how John Williams was able to create something so simple yet impactful. He brought back Rey’s innocence from The Force Awakens but also added maturity to it. It showed how her journey came full circle, along with the Skywalker saga as well.

(Honorable mentions: Destiny of a Jedi, They Will Come, The Force is with You, Farewell)


Thank you for joining me on this journey through the music of Star Wars! May the Force be with you, always.

Are you a fan of Star Wars? Do you agree with Shays picks? Let us know on Twitter

Shalene Hixon
Shalene Hixon
“We prefer to be the freaks, we prefer to be the geeks, we prefer to be the weirdos, the misfits, the oddballs. And most of all, we prefer being the ones who aren’t afraid to be themselves.” - Paige
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