I’ve always had a connection with film scores.
It probably ties back to being born in the generation that was obsessed with the Disney “greats” - Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, etc. On road trips, we had a stockpile of cassettes and CD’s standing by, ready for long hauls across the country. I’d be in the back seat, ponytail and pink sneakers bouncing in rhythm, howling “Just Around the Riverbend” and “Part of your World” over and over again until my parents probably wanted to hurl me out the window.
Years later, I’d find myself sitting on my bed, lanky legs crossed underneath me, furiously scribbling out short stories while listening to Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator or Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon soundtracks on my beaten up blue CD player. Imagery - I discovered at the age of 13 - plays a huge part in the creative process, and when I would listen to these movie scores, my mind would wander. Not to the scenes that corresponded to the movie itself, but to other worlds. Stories all my own.
It may seem silly, but those tracks changed my life. They opened up this hidden world where emotions could be painted using a medium other then words - and their music sang to my heart. It was like finding out you’d been speaking the wrong language, and one day - suddenly! - the words in your head just... snapped into place.
Like breaking the surface after being underwater your entire life, not quite drowning but not quite living either.
I know what you’re thinking - “Kristin, you’re a musician. Of course you love soundtracks. Big deal." Here’s the thing - you may not be musically-inclined (mad shower karaoke skills totally count, by the way), but I bet you MONEY that you’re more invested in music then you think. Wanna know how?
And what do all (okay, most… *eyes Revanent soundtrack with scorn and a mild case of PTSD*) movies have? Soundtracks - scores comprised of symphonies and choruses and insanely talented artists. Want an example? LA LA LAND. Holy musical genius, Batman! If you haven’t seen this movie yet, SHAME ON YOU.
So here’s my request of you, dear readers: take a moment out of your busy day and listen. You don’t have to listen to every track. You could even pick just one.
1. Far from the Madding Crowd - Craig Armstrong
- Confession time: I haven't even seen the movie. But I've listened to this score front to back so many times I've lost count. It's THAT good.
- Why I Love It: Violin tracks that make you sob... In a good way. *tears up* This whole album feels like someone took Regency era/Pride and Prejudice-esque music and made it a bit more rustic... Like throwing it in a corn field. Or in a stack of hay bales. Not sure if that made any sense... *shrugs*
- Favorite Track: "Opening" or "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme" - vocals by Carrie Mulligan & Michael Sheen
1. Home Alone 25th Anniversary Edition - John Williams
- Why I Love It: This one's a sentimental pick, guys. Every year at Christmas, this gets played on repeat in my mum's kitchen, along with the maelstrom of baking, wrapping, cooking, basting, dancing, pranking, etc.
- Favorite Track: "White Christmas" with Irving Berlin and The Drifters
3. La La Land - Justin Hurwitz
- Why I Love It: Über catchy piano medleys, old-fashioned musical tunes, and a jazzy nod to Old Hollywood.
- Favorite Track: "Mia and Sebastian's Theme"
4. (500) Days of Summer - Various Artists
- Why I Love It: How can I NOT LOVE THIS SOUNDTRACK?!? Agh!! It has Regina Spektor *silent screaming*, Temper Trap, Carli Bruni, Simon & Garfunkel, and Zooey Deschanel herself sings on it!! It's an indie hodgepodge of awesomeness!
- Favorite Track: "Us" by Regina Spektor. I can't believe you even had to ask. *psh*
5. Game of Thrones (Season 6) - Ramin Djawadi
- Why I Love It: I'M OBSESSED WITH GAME OF THRONES!!!! House Stark Represent! Everything Ramin writes for this series is golden, but this season in particular has some pretty epic orchestrations.
- Favorite Track: "Light of the Seven"
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - John Williams
- Why I Love It: I know. Another by John Williams. He's the Godfather of soundtracks, so GET OVER IT. This was a close tie with HP Deathly Hallows Part II by Alexandre Desplat (cue so many tears), but I think because we were being introduced to their magical world for the first time, there's a sense of innocence present in the music that isn't quite there in the other films.
- Favorite Track: "Leaving Hogwarts"
7. The Village - James Newton Howard
- Why I Love It: If you don't know who Hilary Hahn is, go check her out HERE on Spotify. She's basically the reigning American virtuoso violinist/diva/my-future-bestie (I wish). The tracks are decievingly simple, yet eerie. SO FREAKING EERIE. I'm looking at you, Hilary.
- Favorite Track: tie between "What Are You Asking Me?" and "The Gravel Road"
8. Garden State - Various Artists
- Why I Love It: A bit more eclectic then the rest. This came out right on the cusp of my transition into college. So, naturally, most tracks have an angst-filled personal history for me. Handpicked by Zach Braff, the album's overall mood is very indie/folksy/chill - The Shins, Remy Fair, Zero 7, and Coldplay.
- Favorite Track: "New Slang" by The Shins
9. The Last Samurai - Hans Zimmer
- Why I Love It: This is a heart-wrenching soundtrack, composed with a play on traditional Japanese instruments/melodies that are both agonizing and peaceful at the same time. I play this in my office when I'm wanting to maintain zen (in other words, almost every day).
- Favorite Track: "A Way of Life"