Pixar's first four movies all featured award-winning music written by Randy Newman. But for Finding Nemo, the creators decided to move in a different direction. For starters, they didn't want to feature songs with lyrics like in Toy Story's "You've Got a Friend in Me." Nope. Randy Newman was not needed.
So they got his cousin instead.
Okay, to be fair, Randy's cousin Thomas Newman was a successful Oscar-nominated composer in his own right. Plus, Andrew Stanton liked him—in fact, Stanton said he actually wrote the story for Finding Nemo while listening to some of Thomas Newman's past work.
At the time he was hired to score this fish tale, Newman had received Academy Award nods for movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Road to Perdition, and American Beauty. He wound up with another nomination for Finding Nemo as well…because that's just how awesome he is.
Thomas Newman admitted that he was a little nervous stepping in Randy Newman's place, but it turns out his style was the perfect fit for this film. The score is a whole lot more dark and dramatic than previous Pixar films.
But it really works. After all, this is a movie filled with loss, sadness, and danger. A little musical melancholy is just what the doctor ordered.