Sunday, July 22, 2012

Top 5 Movie Scores

Hello, everyone!

I have decided to do something countless others before me have dared to do - a list!  I know, it's kind of cliche, but I wanted to do lists of topics that I really love.  Let me know if you think it's a stupid idea, and I should never do it again. I'll listen, I promise (probably).

Anytime people ask me about the kind of music I listen to, I inevitably run into an awkward moment when I mention I listen to more movie scores/classical music than anything else.  At first, they look at me like I am the biggest nerd on the planet, then give me a hihg-pitched, "Oh, ok," and quickly change topics.

Not that I feel the need to justify my listening habits to the world, but there are a few reasons why this is my favorite "genre" of music. 

First, it is easier to work with this kind of music in the background because I am not distracted by lyrics.  For a law student, I find this particularly important.  Second, I am a very visual person, so listening to the music makes envisioning the story in my mind's eye kind of fun, and a retreat from whatever I am working on at the time.  Last, the songs are just plain beautiful and fun. 

So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 favorite movie scores:

1)  How to Train Your Dragon

I may have mentioned a few times that this may be my favorite movie score of all time.  I would list this among my favorite movies as well, but that is a different discussion for a different list.  John Powell did a fantastic job with this score, bringing the kinds of sounds one would anticipate from a film about vikings and dragons without making it into one giant cliche.  The tracks run the range of emotions from happy and fast-paced, to somber and contemplative.  The fact that certain tracks also elicit my favorite scenes from the movie is also a huge bonus.  I would say that my favorite track is the First Flight, where Hiccup and Toothless take to the skys for the first time.  When trapped in an office, or sitting at my desk with a stack of books that never seems to get any smaller, this little audio vacation is most welcome.  Of course, the realization that I have no dragon with which to take adventures is a crashing return to earth...

Download the album here:

2)  Game of Thrones

I instantly fell in love with Game of Thrones the first time I watched it at random.  Little did I know, I would love the score just as much!  I wouldn't say that all the tracks are consistently good - there are always quite a few I skip over when listening to it - but the overall arc of the tracks made this an instant favorite with me.  I think most of it is because the overall progression of the songs is subtle.  Of course, my favorite track is the opening theme, because who doesn't love it?!  Well, let me answer my own question - crazy people.  I haven't picked up the score from the second season yet, but I would expect it to be just as good as the first.  Mr. Ramin Djawadi - I had never heard of you before, but you now have one rabid fan at your disposal.  Well done, sir.

Download the album here:

3)  Up

This one was a challenge.  Not in the sense that I debated about putting it on here.  More in the sense that I didn't want to cop out and list all 5 as Pixar scores.  I have nothing but love for the few composers who have put out scores for the Pixar films.  Michael Giacchino, however, is by far my favorite.  I could probably do a Top 5 list just from the scores that he has brought into this world.  The score from Up really resonated with me, particularly because of all the "old-timey" undertones.  There are tracks that could appeal to all audiences, from the action-packed notes in the chase scene, to the ominous bass from villain scenes, to the forever-classic harmonies showing their life together before the official start of the movie.  It is truly some of Mr. Giacchino's best work!

Download the album here:

4)  Memoirs of a Geisha

For movie score lovers like myself, I think it's only natural to list at least one score from Mr. John Williams.  As with Mr. Giacchino, I think I could do an entire list just going through my favorites of his work alone.  It would be a difficult list, given his work on some of the best movies of all time.  He may be one of the most important composers of history, giving us so many classic melodies it was difficult to choose just one.  But, anytime I find myself in need of some soothing violin melodies, I turn to the soundtrack from Memoirs of a Geisha.  Again, it takes the tones one would expect from a movie set in Japan, while blending them with other instruments and themes to create a true audio arc.  The visuals of the film were so stunning, it is of course only natural to picture them while listening to the soundtrack as well. 

Download the Album here:

5)  Avatar

I will be the first one to admit that Avatar is not the greatest movie in the history of man/woman kind.  That being said, I still saw it three times when it was in theatres and own the Blu-Ray.  It's such a classic story that when I wasn't bogged down with analyzing the plot, I was able to enjoy the more artistic aspects of it, namely the graphics and the score in the background.  There is some really powerful stuff here, and the score does it's job of eliciting certain emotions at certain times quite well.  Ok, that kind of makes me sound like a crazy, but hear me out.  When you watch Hometree fall (spoiler alert?), you feel something as a movie-goer immersed in the story playing out in front of you.  Those same emotions are triggered when listening to that track on the score, which is generally as light-hearted and whimsical as the world of Pandora explored over nearly 3 hours. 

Download the album here:

Ok, so you might still think I'm one of those crazy ones that likes movies WAY too much.  And you're probably right.  But, there have to be people out there that feel the same way I do!  Do you have a movie score that always floats your boat?  Or maybe you vehamently disagree with one of the options above?

Leave a comment and let's talk about it!

Honorable Mentions:
Hunger Games
Pirates of the Caribbean:  Curse of the Black Pearl
All the Harry Potter Scores

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