Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Top 12 Favorite Movie Scores

    There are several details that go into the quality of a great movie, and for me one of the most important things to get right is the instrumental music track. Music adds so much to the experience, it can heighten the emotion, rev-up the excitement or submerse us into the films other worldly atmosphere. Granted, there are a lot of classic movie themes to choose from, but I’m not aiming for the most recognizable and well known. This is a countdown of my personal favorite movie music tracks I’ve personally heard. Now I’m only going to list one score pure music composer, that way it’ll be easier to add some variety to this, and highlight the artist along with what in my opinion is their best work. With that said, turn up the volume and enjoy my top 12 favorite movie music tracks.  

#12 Harry Gregson-Williams score for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

I’ll admit, I haven’t had much exposure to this artists work, but I absolutely love his score for the 2005 motion picture “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”. Not only does it sound beautiful, but also very other-worldly, which only adds another lair of atmosphere to the films setting. The track also has some very grand and sweeping instrumentation, like something from out of a timeless epic. Combining both beauty and grandeur into one sold music track is no small accomplishment, but Mr. Williams hit’s it right out of the park with this enchanting music track.  

 #11 Alan Silvestris score for “Back to the Future” 

Oh, who doesn’t get excited listening to this music theme? This is the kind of score that makes me want to go on an adventure, something fast paced and exciting. In fact, the score itself is like a short story of adventure told through music. It has the whimsical build up, the action packed exhilaration, the suspense, the strength being built and it all closes with musical notes that embody a great taste of victory. What else can I say about this score, it’s just really exciting to listen to. It fills you with hope, it fills you with pride, it fills you with excitement, and it’s just plain awesome music that I can’t get enough of.   

#10 Basil Poledouris score for “Conan: The Barbarian” 

While I’ve never been a fan of the movie, this soundtrack has always stood tall as one of my all time favorites. The stand out track tilted “Riders of Doom” is arguably one of the most epic pieces of music ever put to film. It has size, grandeur and it gets me exhilarated every time I hear it. Another stand out track titled “Riddle of Steel” has some great atmospheric notes, and cares a nice theme that really highlights the hero. For such a corny movie, this track gives the false impression that you’re about to watch a grand and glorious motion picture phenomenon. 

#9 John Williams score for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” 

Good old John Williams, is music is so iconic and well known that it’s hard to rank any one of his scores as his best work, but I do have a personal favorite. John Williams’s iconic Harry Potter theme has always been a staple for my favorite fantasy franchise, but in my opinion, it’s the third film in the series that provides the best instrumental sound track of them all, and John Williams best work. The music from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” has very distinct medieval influences in the instrumentation, which fits the setting beautifully, and I especially love the smaller, individual scores of the film. Buckbeak’s flight music is a particular favorite score of mine, the climactic battle with the Dementors features some especially exhilarating instrumentation, and the films triumphant finally music is downright sensational.

#8 George S. Clinton’s score for “Mortal Kombat” 

If you want to hear a music track that’ll get you pumped for action, it’s George S. Clinton’s score for “Mortal Kombat” all the way. The 1995 movie was average good, but the theme music is unbelievable. Just hearing the announcer cry out “MORTAL KOMBAT!” gets me hyped as hell, and the track perfectly blends a video game style techno beat with rhythm and energy. The stand out track titled “The Immortals: Techno Syndrome” is a pure overload of awesome! This is the kind of track that needs to be playing at a tournament, whether it be video games or karate or anything else, it’s just that sweet. 


#7 Danny Elfmans score for “Edward Scissorhands” 

If you’re a long time fan of Tim Burton movies, you know your share of music composed by the great Danny Elfman, as he usually does the music in all his films. My favorite work of his by far is the score for “Edward Scissorhands”. This is the classic Danny Elfman score that just hits all the right notes, its gothic and foreboding but it’s also whimsical and enchanting at the same time. There’s just no other movie score like it, combining both haunts and magic into one captivating track. It’s just over flowing with atmosphere, wonder and it always submerses me into the movie experience whenever I hear it.  Danny Elfman will always be a legend to us movie music lovers, and it’s his captivating score for “Edward Scissorhands” that I’ll always remember and admire him for the most.  

#6 Don Davis score for “The Matrix Revolutions” 

So, “The Matrix Revolutions” has this reputation for being the worst film in its respected franchise, but even if it is the worst, that still doesn’t mean there’s nothing of value in it. The one thing this movie truly got right by far was its epic finally score composed by Don Davis. This has got to be the most sensational, larger than life finally music I’ve ever heard, combining an epic quire with a stylized techno beat and fast rhythm into one unforgettable track. It has the buildup, it has energy and it closes on the most sensational of final notes that give me goose bumps every time I hear it.       

#5 Shirley Walker’s score for “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” 

Batman is no stranger to having unforgettable music tracks in his movies. Personally, of all the talented artist to compose music for Batman’s films, nothing thrills me more than the late Shirley Walker’s score for “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”. It’s dark, brooding, mysterious, then gradually elevates with a cryptic quire and finally launches into a tempo that just screams “This is the real Batman!” Her music just embodies everything great about my favorite superhero, and it’s always stood out to me as his classic sound track. It just adds so much size and weight to the character, while also keeping the gothic and haunting tones in check. The opening theme alone always gives me chills, and sets the tone for an epic Batman experience. Like I said, many artists ranging from Danny Elfman to Hans Zimmer have brought credible music to the dark knight’s movie legacy, but personally it’s Shirley Walker who got it perfect with the most riveting score Batman has ever had.  


#4 Tom Tykwer’s score for “Run Lola Run” 

Arguably the most energizing music score I’ve ever heard, Tom Tykwer’s track from “Run Lola Run” will make you want to get up and run with the main character of the movie. It’s got the cool techno beat, the energy, the rhythm and it’s a rare case in which the music actually plays a part in the story telling experience. While the beat remains the same, the style and rhythm is constantly changing depending on each new direction the film takes. The whole film follows one character running to various locations, there’s very little dialogue, and a very simple story, but it’s a highly entertaining work of art, especially with the pumping techno soundtrack that keeps us engaged throughout.

#3 James Horner’s score for “The Land Before Time” 

The late James Horner is one of my personal hero’s, and created the music of my child hood. I can’t even begin to count how many films I grew up with that were blessed with his music talents, so I always looked at him as the guy who planted the seed that eventually grew into my love for music. Personally, no other score of his touches my heart, or takes me back to my child hood more than his score for “The Land Before Time”. His instrumentation of the track “The Discovery of the Great Valley” is the stuff of sheer beauty, like listening to music that came right to us from heaven. It’s a track where every single musical note leaves just the right impact for each scene in the film, and those final notes always bring grown man tears to my eyes every time I hear them. 


#2 Basil Poledouris score for “The Hunt for Red October” 

When it comes to epic music tracks, some may think of “Lord of the Rings” or “Gladiator”, but for me personally, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more epic score then Basil Poledouris “Red Army Choir” from the 1990 picture “The Hunt for Red October”. It begins with subtle buildup, it accelerates into a Choir that feels grand and mighty, then it segues into a choirs of what sound like Christmas Carolers, and then finally it settles back into the quiet yet atmospheric chanting. It’s just an awesome track that gives audiences the impression that they’re about to watch something grand and massive unfold. This may be a little miss leading for some, but I think it fits the tone of the movie perfectly, and is without a doubt one of the films great highlights.  

Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are some Honorable Mentions ...

Randy Edelman's score for "Dragonheart

John Carpenter’s score for “Halloween” (1978)

Bill Conti’s score for “Rocky” (Gonna Fly Now)

Clint Mansell’s score for “Requiem For A Dream

Hans Zimmer’s score for “Pirates of the Caribbean

#1 Jerry Goldsmith’s score for “Star Trek First Contact” 

Of all the great movie composers out there, the late Jerry Goldsmith is my personal favorite. His music has touched and inspired me for years, and I think the biggest credit to his success is his music composed for Star Trek. His iconic music theme for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is unforgettable and a testament to his talents. However, I think his greatest score, and my personal favorite movie theme of all time is his opening score for “Star Trek First Contact”. This is one of the most beautiful and captivating things I’ve ever heard. It’s so good that I’ve often said if I were to ever get married, this is the music I’d want to have playing at my wedding march. It gives chills and makes me feel all choked up inside every time I hear it. It’s almost too good for the movie, as it puts me in a mindset that I’m about to watch something inspiring and grand, like a real classic. It’s upon listening to this score that my respect for movie themes really took shape, and where my love for Jerry Goldsmith’s music was set in stone. Everything inspiring and emotional is felt in this score, and it’s one that I highly recommend viewers listen too, weather their Star Trek fans of not.  

The End

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