It’s all about the swells, the accompaniment, the way it can bring you up and drag you down. This week, I’m going for music made for film, but just as good on its own. Of course, I can’t use the obvious out of a song that’s been licensed for a film, but something created, new and whole, for the film itself. So here we go.
1. Flash – Queen
It always makes me laugh that this was one of Queen’s filmic efforts. Flash, the most camp of the space travelling heroes, I guess it was inevitable. But who can forget that intro, that FLASH! AHA!, yes, it’s hilarious and awesome and Queen.
2. We Are Sex Bob-omb – Sex Bob-omb (Beck and Broken Social Scene)
With the comics being so steeped in music culture as well as video-game, it’s a wonder that they managed to make it work somehow. They took a supposedly crappy garage band, and made it sound crappy and look crappy and for all intents and purposes, was crappy, but somehow… somehow Beck and Broken Social Scene made them awesome. Which goes at odds with the comics, but who wants to sit through a few minutes of a crappy garage band when you can have Beck and Broken Social Scene rocking out like a crappy garage band?
3. Man With a Harmonica – Ennio Morricone
God, of all the professional composers scoring film, have any even got close to Ennio Morricone? I know he all but limited himself to one genre, but forget Sergio Leone; Spaghetti Westerns were defined by Ennio Morricone. Whenever anyone talks about Once Upon a Time in the West, I don’t think of how brilliantly directed it is, how the whole thing plays out like the death rattle of a gunslinger; no, I think of this harmonica, and that mournful, mocking wail that seeps out of it.
4. Down to Earth – Peter Gabriel
Yay Peter Gabriel. I’m glad I could shoe-horn him in here somewhere.
5. Little Person – Jon Brion
Synecdoche, New York was the most incredible film of the first decade of this millenium. It’s an incredible achievement, and you owe it to yourself to watch it. Little Person is the sound that reminds me most of it, and it’s enough to give me chills; I don’t know if it’s actually all that good, but it’s so inextricably linked with the film for me that the memory does enough.
6. Home – Explosions in the Sky
I’ve not seen the Friday Night Lights film. But this score was good enough to make me look up the tv series, and it turned out to be pretty good. Not as good as this soundtrack though. Not nearly as good.
7. In the Hall of the Mountain King – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Mad. Utterly mad. The Social Network wouldn’t be half the film without Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross at the soundboard, pushing every scene onto the edge and holding it there, sadistic grins on their faces. This was them at their most sadistic.
8. La Resa Dei Contin – Ennio Morricone
Just as Once Upon a Time in the West is defined by the Harmonica, For a Few Dollars More is this song. Even people who haven’t seen the film know this song. Aliens know this song, through spacial osmosis, forced upon whatever substitute they have for ears purely because it’s so bloody good. And what the fuck? He shoves pipe organs in there, just because it felt right. I can’t think of an instrument that less Old West than a pipe organ. But he makes it work, because he’s a genius.
9. A Watchful Guardian – Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
If there’s a modern equivalent to Ennio, it’s probably Hans Zimmer; the man’s scored more films than anyone I can think of, and he always does a brilliant job. His work on the Batman films, however, has ingrained him firmly in my psyche. Without that stirring trumpets, the heavy cello, it wouldn’t be Batman.
10. Death is the Road to Awe – Clint Mansel
What a way to end it all, eh? Clint Mansel’s score to The Fountain is just about as foolish and overreaching and monolithic as the film it’s accompanying. I mean just look at that title! It’s monstrously hubristic, pushing far beyond anything it has any right to aspire to. And the way it builds, and builds, and builds, until you burst and deflate, kept alive and formed purely through the ballast that is this song. It’s the hot air that keeps the film afloat, but it can only last so long.
Ah, Sunday, the day where I feel full and tired and sleepy, and really, really don’t want to do a blog post. I hope you’re happy.