Soundtracks are underappreciated

A few years ago, I posted a journal entry on Last.fm about film scores (from 2001: A Space Odyssey to The Dark Knight) and why I like so many of them. Here’s a little update – adding Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and Tron: Legacy.

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I hadn’t really thought about it at the time, but when I originally posted the journal entry, I probably should have specified that my list consisted entirely of film scores (Rocky and 2001 being arguable exceptions), not pop music soundtracks. I could name a few of the latter, like Dazed and Confused or Garden State, but I think scores tend to be ignored for the most part.

Half of the experience in going to a film is in the score. I suppose that the main reason that soundtracks are underappreciated on their own is because they’re not as immediately effective without the visuals. However, I’ve found that imagining the film while listening to its soundtrack is just as rewarding (much like concept albums such as The Who’s Tommy). I find myself catching nuances in the music that I normally don’t think about while watching the film.

I could go on about this, but I’m afraid that I’ve already lost you. Instead, here are a few clips from some of the soundtracks I’ve been listening to lately. (Ghosts is not a soundtrack, but Nine Inch Nails did produce a Ghosts Film Festival – I’ve included an entry below.) Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV (2008 The Null Corporation)
  • Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – The Dark Knight (2008 Warner Bros.)
  • John Powell – The Bourne Supremacy (2004 Varèse Sarabande)
  • John Williams – Catch Me If You Can (2002 Dreamworks)
  • 2001- A Space Odyssey (The 1996 Rhino release is reportedly the best version of this soundtrack. There was a score for the film, but it was scrapped. Check out the Wikipedia article.)
  • Bill Conti (et al) – The Rocky Story (1991 Volcano)
  • Hans Zimmer – Rain Man (1989 Capitol)
  • Alexandre Desplat – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008 Concord)
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network (2010 The Null Corporation)
  • Daft Punk and Joseph Trapanese – Tron: Legacy (2010 Walt Disney)

Sad that there happens to be no female composers on my list. Someone drop a few good ones for me!

  • Michael

    The soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream is excellent. Check it if you haven’t.

    • Oooh, thank you. The film has been on my list for a long time, too, but I keep waiting for the right moment to watch it – I hear it’s quite intense.

      For reference, I thought I’d mention here Rachel Portman for Chocolat, which Hannah mentioned. Portman won an Oscar for Emma, too, although I’ve never seen that, either. Hannah also couldn’t leave out Howard Shore for Lord of the Rings (he won 3 Oscars for the first two films).

  • Oh, James Horner’s *A Beautiful Mind* score is fantastic, as well. Beautiful alarm clock music.