Monday, March 29, 2010

Music Monday: Favorite Scores

Holy guacamole cannoli on stick! Over a thousand hits! (Joyness) <3 all my friends who read this, you guys rock the house, and all you random strangers I don't know who read this, you guys rock even harder because you're not motivated by friendship-related guilt. Working on this has been so much fun and I'm looking forward to doing something special for when I hit fifty posts, but for now it's a regular Music Monday that will be looking at my favorite film scores that are all very personal to me. Because what's the fun of being a nerd on the internet if you can't inflict it on unsuspecting strangers?

1. Pirates of The Caribbean, Klaus Badelt. This holds the very special spot of first film score I ever bought. I saw POTC when I was thirteen and the theme was in my head for weeks, driving me crazy until I learned that you can buy film scores (I was a slow child). I remember listening to it over and over again, sword fighting imaginary pirates, using it as a soundtrack to story writing and eventually incorporating it into a musical fight that me and my mom did at an open karate tournament, tying for first place (yeah, we do karate). This was my first taste of swashbuckling epicness and just hearing the main theme brings back that thrill of watching the movie in the theater, wishing I was a pirate...happily oblivious to the crap that would be the next two films...

2. Everything Is Illuminated, Paul Cantelon. Much like the movie itself, this score draws you in with charming goofiness only to hit you in the stomach with a sledgehammer when you least expect it. The score is firmly grounded in it's setting of the Ukraine, with tracks like "Odessa Medley" making you glance around to make sure you're still in your country of origin (unless you live in the Ukraine, I suppose). The soundtrack also incorporates tracks from Ukrainian punk bad and all-around awesome dudes, Gogol Bordello, whose lead singer, Eugene Hutz, plays Alex, one of the main characters. The score has incredible range, but one of my favorites is Inside-out, because I feel like it encompasses the feel of the whole movie:

3. Lady In The Water, James Newton Howard. Awful movie, brilliant score. (random sidenote: gawd isn't Bryce Dallas Howard's face SO CREEPY there?). Anyway, I actually only watched this movie because I heard the score for it in another trailer. Ugh, it is cheesy, cliche and ridiculous but I can still consider time (mostly) well spent because I got to hear this score. It is something else. James Newton Howard is the master of the understated score, managing heartbreakingly beautiful themes while remaining incredibly restrained. If Lady In The Water was half as good as it's score, M. Night would have had a hit on his hands. Oh well.

3. Meet Joe Black, Thomas Newman. Thomas Newman is a man who knows how to make me happy inside (get out of the gutter), he has a very specific style created for the sole purpose of reducing everyone into blubbering infants and Meet Joe Black is no exception. It's a very dark, reserved score, matching with the tone of the main character, Joe Black aka Death (that's right). It works wonderfully because it makes the moments of pure emotion stand out that much more. The music feels like it's being restricted, hemmed in from getting too wild, but in a good way, if that makes sense. Newman is a man who never goes overboard. A perfect example of this hemmed in energy followed by emotional release (apparently Thomas Newman has the power to triple my normal innuendo quotient), is Someone Else:

4. A Series of Unfortunate Events, Thomas Newman. I know, maybe it's cheating to put him twice, in a row no less, but this is one of my favorite scores without a doubt. Like Meet Joe Black, it fits the movie to a T, dark and broody to suit the depressing mood but with uplifting notes on the edges because it is, after all, a kid's movie. I remember listening this while on a plane and watching the clouds skim by, for some reason it just makes for awesome travel music. It's a very clever score, never getting too dark or too cheesy but keeping things right on edge. It's hard for me to pick just one track, but since I have to, one of the best one's is the first one, The Bad Beginning and it's hilarious fake-out:

5. Steamboy, Steve Jablonsky. Before he was trying to make us care about Michael Bay's Transformers by way of score, Steve Jablonsky scored the eccentric but visually kick-ass steampunk anime, Steamboy. It is Victorian Alternate History Epicness personified. These tracks will make you feel like you're flying through the air on a jet of steam-powered awesome. It has a wide range, from playful and light tracks, like Scarlet, to the intenseness of Fly In The Sky. I highly recommend both the movie and the music, they complete each other. And next time you plan on taking an airship ride,listen to this:

6. Ho damn, shaking things up! Ok, 6 is a bonus because I just got it but I already cannot stop listening to it: How To Train Your Dragon, John Powell. Never did I dare think there existed music that would make me like bagpipes, but hat's off to ya, Mr. Powell, you have done it. This score is exciting, breathtaking, dare I say, high-flying? (the puns, they hurt). I can't even multi-task while listening to it, it just grabs me by the ears and doesn't let go, taking up with themes that bring the adrenaline while still managing to connect emotionally. Test Drive is the perfect track to get you hooked:


Ok, I'm better now. That's all for tonight. I'm going to go not pretend to fly around my room at 2am...yeah.

"I remember a teacher once asked me, what makes music sad? What a brilliant question. His answer was, it takes on the physical qualities of something sad. Meaning if it's sad, a melody will move in step-wise manner. It will tend to be slower as you are when you're sad; it takes on the physical characteristics of an emotional state. Something in the music rings and carries you back to a memory you have that elicits a feeling. I guess what's wonderful about music is that it's utterly abstract and yet has a great kind of sinuous, subjective emotional reaction. I like the idea that music can be dimensional, that it's not necessarily playing what's there" -Thomas Newman


  1. Hey, lay off the "Pirates" sequels!

  2. I admit, two and three had their good points, and three specifically has some pretty great moments but overall they both just feel weak compared to the first one. Character traits and motivations changed wildly to suit the plot and it became all about Jack, which, while he was a great character, I felt ruined the whole "ensemble-ness" of the movies. I dunno, I just feel like the first movie set the bar so high and the other two couldn't meet it

  3. I just want you to know that as I was reading this post, I was thinking "She should say something about How To Train Your Dragon...but probably won't..." and then you did. And then I had to stop what I was doing and play the soundtrack IMMEDIATELY ^_^


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