Monday, January 10, 2011


Something I've noticed about my music collection over the past decade or so is how much of it is *cough* composed of movie soundtracks. I don't mean John Williams' theme for Star Wars. But there is a lot of exceptionally good music out there that was written for the movies by some very talented people. It almost seems like an evolved version of the "patronage system" of yore, but the patron is movie studio, not a king. It's interesting to speculate that, centuries from now, musicologists may look back on the movie music of our time as the "serious" music of our era, dismissively relegating The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, etc to the category of "pop music".

And while I guess that a lot of people keep current on the latest music via Pandora or, I seem to pick up on new music from movies and television shows. Like, the other night, Number One Son and I were watching Death Race and about 15 minutes in I'm like "so is it just me, or does this soundtrack kick butt?"

But I digress -- here are some examples. I'm not attempting to be comprehensive (some of these people have scored hundreds of films, I'm not going to list them all here or pretend that I've seen most of them) -- these are just the ones I like and / or own:

James Horner - Braveheart, Titanic, Aliens

Jerry Goldsmith - Alien, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Danny Elfman - The Simpsons, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, Beetlejuice, Futurama, Edward Scissorhands

John Williams - the Harry Potter movies, television shows Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel, and Land Of The Giants (Williams has been milking the Star Wars franchise for many years, and I am not a fan -- but the man has a serious CV)

Thomas Newman - The Green Mile, American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption, Meet Joe Black

David Newman - Serenity, Anastasia, Heathers

(The Newman family alone is probably worth a post -- you've got Lionel, Alfred, Thomas, David, and Randy Newman, who, between them, have scored a list of movies that reads like "A Comprehensive List of Every Hollywood Movie You Ever Heard Of").

The above are all "established" names -- and I'm only scratching the surface, there's an entire ecosystem of popular film music composers. And then there are the some names you really don't expect to see on a soundtrack:

Toto - David Lynch's Dune (Brian Eno wrote / performed the "Prophecy Theme")

Daft Punk - TRON: Legacy

Wang Chung - To Live And Die In L.A.

Tangerine Dream - Risky Business, Miracle Mile, Firestarter

Paul Haslinger (ex-Tangerine Dream) - Death Race, Crank, Underworld

Mark Mothersbaugh - Big Love (2006 season)

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network, (upcoming) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Jed and Joss Whedon - Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I could go on.

I have to wonder just how some of these matchups came to be. How did William Friedkin decide "hey, let's get these Wang Chung boys in here". Or when Hugh Hudson was directing Chariots of Fire, did he tell people "yeah, Vangelis Papathanasiou -- you know, the Aphrodite's Child 666 guy"?

Finally -- since I surf the web and watch the occasional short video, and also occasionally request some of the lesser-known titles from Netflix, I've lucked onto some not especially well-known (but still quite talented) composers -- people like Rob Simonsen, Ian Dorsch, and Scott Glasgow. Sometimes their websites will have lovely free downloads of their music.

No comments:

Post a Comment