Top 10 original film soundtracks

I really love is a good original film score. Not a day goes by where I don’t whistle the music from Jurassic Park or Terminator II (or a little medley of my own creation I like to think of as Terminator Park). Obviously music is very subjective and I wouldn’t dream of calling this post the 10 top best original soundtrack ever but in making the list I looked for two qualities: 1) it must be original music (so no Spawn soundtrack even though it was the best thing ever when I was a teenager) and it must be worth listening to all the way through (so no Terminator II or Jurassic Park which just have one good tune each, no matter how BRILLIANT they are).

Now my music credentials are not the best, I mean I listen to every sort of music from Gangster’s Rap to Heavy Maiden but probably the song I have listened to the most in my life is Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend’ (after playing far too much of the game Burnout Paradise where the infernal thing featured on the soundtrack and hearing her squawking ‘HEY HEY NO WAY SOMETHING SOMETHING GIRLFRIEND’ will forever be synonymous with crashing head first into oncoming traffic at over a hundred miles an hour. God only knows what would happen if it came on the radio while I was in the car – yet another reason why it is best for everyone if I don’t drive). I’m no musical know-it-all and may not be infallible. So with that in mind, here is my top 10:

10 – Tron Legacy (Daft Punk). I almost forgot about this one. I’ve never seen the film and don’t have much of an inclination to (the only Tron for me is Megatron). But the soundtrack is great.

9 – Requiem for a Dream (Clint Mansell/Kronos Quartet). This would have ranked higher but it has a few tracks that I would generally skip when they come on my playlist, sorry. It features the track Lux Aeterna which was later pinched by The Lord of The Rings soundtrack (renamed Requiem for a Tower) and was on the trailer for the second LoTR film. It’s music that works equally well whether it playing as Gandalf rides down to battle at the first light of the fifth day, or Jennifer Connelly is going ass to ass.

8 – The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer). My favourite by Hans. Dark and moody all the way through. This selection is in no way influenced by my huge love for all things Batman. For my money, this is a better album than the Inception soundtrack but that is also a good one. The Inception soundtrack doesn’t actually include the oh-so-dramatic Inception trailer music (inventor of the ‘tension tuba’ which is now in every damn trailer ever) which is why it didn’t make the cut.

7 – The Book of Eli (Atticus Ross). The track I have included here is the first on the album and definitely the best. The rest of the album never quite lives up to it’s potential but is still a really good listen. Plus I could listen to this one track on repeat all day (not literally, unless I was in a coma or the cd player was on repeat in another room and I couldn’t be bothered to get up and change it).

6 – 28 Days Later (John Murphy). This soundtrack contains a few songs by bands which should probably disqualify it from my list but I am something of a rebel (at least when it comes to rules I made up myself as opposed to actual rules where I might get in trouble, gosh I don’t like trouble). Also I really like the song by Blue States. John Murphy rather lazily reused this bit of music in Kick-Ass but it’s great so I suppose I can forgive him:

5 – The Fountain (Clint Mansell/Kronos Quartet). The best praise I can give this soundtrack is that it is more moving and evocative than the film. I liked The Fountain sure, but the soundtrack is the bit that really stayed with me, and I’ve listened to it countless times while I’ve never re-watched the movie. Like Clint Mansell’s Requiem For A Dream soundtrack, this one uses a lot of themes that are then built up and repeated later in the album… there is almost certainly a technical term for this but I’ll just call it ‘nicely repetitive’.

4 – Paprika (Susumu Hirasawa). The other day I posted about the Anime film Berserk that is in production, and for me the best news is that Susumu Hirasawa is back to make the soundtrack as he did for the 90s TV show. He’s done several film scores including Paprika – which is unique to say the least, the guy is a bizarre genius and I love all his stuff. It is very hard to pick a favourite from the album.

3 – Blade Runner (Vangelis) As you may have noticed I like my sci-fi and my electronica so it’s probably no surprise that I included the mysterious silver-bearded synthesiser wizard Vangelis here somewhere. This song never actually featured in the film but is still my pick of the album.

2 – The Social Network (Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross). This soundtrack won the Oscar for Trent Reznor (him from Nine Inch Nails). My favourite thing about this soundtrack is the way it enhances the film, I think of all the soundtracks here it adds the most to the movie – the version of Hall of the Mountain King played during the boat race is just inspired. Plus it is great to listen to while coding, put some headphones on and say you are ‘wired in’ and pretend that you are making software that will change the world (though arguably for the worse). I ‘Like’ this song (that’s a Facebook joke).

1 – Sunshine (John Murphy). For my money this is the most moving, evocative and poignant soundtrack in the world EVER (that I have heard). I have to admit I bounced off the film Sunshine at first but now I am happy to say it is one of my very favourites. I would love a cut of Sunshine that had no dialogue, just loads of footage of the Sun and space with the music playing over the top. This is the music I want at my funeral (and I want to be fired into the Sun, possibly serving the dual purpose of cremating me and restarting the Sun thus saving all life on Earth if possible). Oh and John Murphy again re-used some of the music in Kick-Ass which was a far less grand setting for it.

So, I managed to resist putting the 1986 Transformers: The Movie soundtrack at number one and I am quite pleased with myself. And yes, most of these albums are quite new and there is a shortage of any Enrico Morricone, that’s just the way it is. If anyone has any other suggestions I would love to hear them (as long as it’s not the Titanic soundtrack).

3 Comments on “Top 10 original film soundtracks

  1. Clint Mansell’s Moon score is possibly my favourite, deserves a place for sure. Big fan of the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack too

  2. I considered O Brother long and hard but in the end I think I just went for electro stuff for some reason. I haven’t heard the Moon OST yet, I’ll give it a go.

  3. Just found this – cool list. I’d recommend Nick Cave’s soundtrack to the Assassination of Jesse James which is really atmospheric, especially Rather Lovely Thing.

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