Though the songs from HBO Max’s An American Pickle might not end up on your next workout playlist, they should definitely be added into the mix for the next bar/bat mitzvah you attend. With very few actual hit songs in the brand new movie, starring Seth Rogen in dual roles, the score is left to give emotional weight to each and every scene, and they all sound like something your bubbeh or zayde would dance to.
The music is composed by Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino, best known for his work with Pixar (the Up theme that makes you weep? That's his), Marvel, and Star Trek movies, and Israeli composer Nami Melumad. It is certainly considered contemporary in terms of how it makes the movie feel, but at the same time feels like it came straight out of the so-called old country. And if you know anything about the way Giacchino titles his songs, they are always punny and sometimes so on the nose it hurts. He was up to his usual antics with An American Pickle because his same song naming tradition continues, but this time with a Yiddish twist.
Yiddish is used a lot in the movie, as Rogen launches into full monologues in the language. While his dialogue isn’t subtitled for us to understand, the Yiddish titles Giacchino and Melumad use are at least a little more commonplace. When Rogen’s Herschel and Ben Greenbaum get into a fight with a bunch of “cossacks,” the music played during the scene is, “Klezmer Fight Club.” Later, when Herschel has to go and find Ben, that song is appropriately titled, “Schlepping to Schlupsk” — when was the last time you schlepped somewhere?
The soundtrack also has some pickle puns, because obviously it does. One appropriately named song is “Pickle Your Fancy,” and hopefully you understand that play on words. The ending song of the movie is “The Silver Brining,” which sure sounds like “the silver lining,” but brining is actually a pickling term, meaning to soak something in salty water. And let’s not forget the end credits song, “Pickles, Suite or Sour,” considering that pickles can be sweet, or sour, and also suite is a common musical melody. These are so clever it hurts.
If Yiddish and pickles aren’t you’re thing, there are also two perfectly placed Star Wars jokes on the soundtrack. Giacchino composed the music for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but here the homage is paid to the original trilogy with back to back songs, “Regene of the Ben” and “The Pickle Empire Strikes Back.”
Checking out the American Pickle soundtrack might not be the first thing you do after you finish the movie, but just like Herschel, take a few seconds to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world, and also pickle puns.