Saturday, July 28, 2012

Favorite Movie Scores

One of the many things that make up a movie is the music. Music sets the tone for the scene and tells us, the audience, how we should feel at the current time. Should we feel happy? Sad? Anxious? Pumped up like we're going to kick someone's ass? More often than not, it's the musical score that answers these questions for us. Over the years, there have been many awesome movie scores written by some musical geniuses and today, I'm going to countdown my personal favorites. I must admit that music is not something that I'm as invested in the same way I'm invested in story or characters or visuals, so this list may seem really generic or cliche'd to some people. Though on the other hand, if someone like me is able to point out what's so great about them, then maybe they have only more than proved their worth and all the more deserve to be put on here. But I digress, these are my top ten favorite movie scores.

  1. Star Wars- Kind of a no brainer really, people always get excited when they see the big title across the screen and hear this score accompanying it. This score is so well known that even people who haven't seen the movie recognize this theme. The Imperial March theme is also a number that shouldn't be overlooked, it's the music that plays whenever we are about to be introduced to Darth Vader, one of the biggest badasses in all of film. This music has been so iconic that people have incorporated it into everyday life. I for example, have it on my phone as my ringtone for whenever my scheduling department calls me.
  2. Indiana Jones- there's no doubt about it, these movies were kickass, and they have a really upbeat and exciting score to go with it. This was actually the song that my high school's orchestra played as we were exiting our graduation ceremony, and man did that only get us pumped even more. We're done with high school, summer is on the horizon, and we are being treated to the Indiana Jones theme as we are leaving. What makes this theme so awesome are the moments when it is played during the movie. Normally it starts playing when Indy is picking himself up from the dust and getting ready to kick some ass, and that just makes the scene all that much more exciting.
  3. The Exorcist- Something that I have noticed about music is that when a score is meant to get people excited or freaked out, it is set at a really fast pace to get the audience pumped, and when it is meant to give a mysterious feel, like we don't know what's going to happen, it is usually pretty slow. The two best examples that I can think of are the scores for Halloween and The Shining. Halloween is a movie where the scares come from startles and things that make you scream and piss yourself. The Shining is all about finding out the mystery to the hotel and the scares come from stuff in the hotel playing with your mind. So, fittingly, Halloween has a very quickly paced piano piece to serve as it's main score and The Shining has a very slow prolonged horn sound playing over the credits. The Exorcist however, has a mysterious feel to it but is played at a really fast pace. How that works, I don't know, but when you listen to the music and pair it with the image of Max Von Sydow standing under the lampost, you get this feeling of "Whatever is about to happen, it's not going to be good. But damn it all! I have to find out!"The Exorcist is the ultimate example of a movie where the audience covers their eyes then peaks through their fingers, and the tubular bells number only helped gear us up for it.
  4. Inception- Okay to be honest, I'm really only talking about the foghorn portion of the score. You know what I'm talking about... BWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMM... BWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM... That part. I don't know what it is, it's just so cool. Though the rest of the music is pretty good. It is after all Hans Zimmer, which means a few things: It's going to be big, it's going to be intense, and it's going to have a really heavy impact on how the audience is feeling.
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean- much like the Indiana Jones theme, this just has a really fun adventure feel to it. This normally can be heard in the trailers for each of the movies and it just puts you in the swashbuckling mood. The score was written by Hans Zimmer who has really shown range in terms of style and pace. He has written some fun adventure themes like the POTC theme, and he's written the score for Gladiator which has both slow moments and action filled parts as well. But in recent years, he's become known for writing the music for most of Christopher Nolan's movies, especially the Dark Knight trilogy, which we'll get to in a little bit. His music just seems to dominate the scene and in some cases be just as memorable as the action.
  6. James Bond- I had a hard time deciding between this and Mission Impossible, but then I realized that one of these had Sean Connery while the other had Tom Cruise and the decision became easy. But apart from that, the James Bond theme just has this power of taking the simplest actions and making them feel really intense. If you watch a guy walking down a hallway, it doesn't seem all that intense or exciting. Add the 007 music to it, and you would think he is off to go kill somebody.
  7. 300- I'm mostly talking about the bit entitled "Returns a King" in which you hear loud drums, a large dramatic choir and just about everything else that can make you pumped up for something. In fact most of the music in this movie is that way, which is just plain badass especially when you consider that you have a movie that is about 2 hours of almost nothing but big battles, limb hacking, rousing speeches, shouting, and nearly naked women... And men for that matter, but let's be honest, we aren't focusing on that. A score like the one composed by Tyler Bates is almost required.
  8. Batman- When I started putting this list together, I was only thinking about adding the Danny Elfman theme, seeing as how that is a classic piece that we always associate with the Caped Crusader. I even mentioned that this is the one area where Burton trumped Nolan because his score had more of a Batman feel to it. But the more I think about it, the score for the Nolan movies is pretty epic too. I mentioned Hans Zimmer earlier and the music he wrote for Nolan's trilogy is nothing short of awesome. It's big, it's dramatic, and in this last movie, he added the nice touch of including the chanting from the prison into almost every number. Whenever we reach a scene where shit's about to get real, you can faintly hear the chanting of "Deshi Deshi Basara Basara". So yeah, that may feel pretty epic, but when I hear "Batman" Danny Elfman's theme is one of the first things that comes to mind.
  9. The Good The Bad and The Ugly- I know westerns aren't always the most popular when it comes to genres, but I have always thought that westerns were badass, and this movie has a badass score to it. When you hear it, you automatically think "Oh... it's on alright"
  10. Lord of the Rings/ Game of Thrones- I couldn't decide between these two so I just decided to have them share a spot. I know it's weird having a show featured on here, but when you listen to the music that plays during the credits for Game of Thrones, you'll see why I have it on here. Both of these books are renowned for the respect that they brought to the fantasy genre, and the people making the adaptations for the books knew that, so they both deservedly have big musical numbers that make you feel like your watching something fantasy related... but also very adult. I wouldn't put this music in a movie like Chronicles of Narnia or Eragon because those are mainly aimed at kids (and because the movie Eragon sucked balls, but that's neither here nor there). Both of these numbers have this big, epic vibe to it that only help you get sucked into what you're watching.
So those are my top 10 favorite movie scores. Keep in mind, this is all opinion based and holds no real truth whatsoever. If you think I forgot to include one... I don't care, I'm the one with the blog and the balls to voice my opinions. I do have a number of runner ups which I would have liked to include, but I decided to keep it to 10 because... Fuck it, I don't know. Here are the runners up:
  • Terminator
  • Back to the Future
  • Braveheart
  • Superman
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Duck Tales- Here's something fun to do, if you see somebody staring off into space like they are deep in thought or trying to memorize something, run up to them and yell "Duck Tales! Woo-hoo!"

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