What sets motion pictures apart from other forms of art is that it serves as an intoxicating combination of sensory experiences.Be it words through memorable dialogues, carefully choreographed moves on screen oreven more, the catchy music in the background. There’s a certain depth that music adds to moments on screen, it sets the tone for the video which heightens the impact instantly.
We begin to associate soundtracks with movies even more than the actual content of the movie at times. When ‘Titanic’ pops up on Charades, we immediately launch into ‘Near, farrrr, WHEREVER YOU ARE…’ making Celine Dion’s super hit track synonymous with the movie. And boy, if the words let it go are mentioned anywhere within hearing distance, prepare yourself for a ballad because we can’t hold it back anymore.
These tracks hit all the right notes when it comes to making films even more memorable. Here’s a look at the movies with the most popular and memorable soundtracks in recent Hollywood history:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy:
‘Come and Get Your Love’ by Redbone adds the classic feel of rock to the opening scene, featuring the badass space traveler, Chris Pratt. The Marvel studios film, despite featuring Vin Diesel as a lovable tree, featured Awesome Mix, Vol 1, a mix of hits from the ’70s and ’80s, The obvious dissonance between the track and the visual actually gelled pretty great, like a classic twist to a modern fairytale. The mix which was awesome indeed, with tracks by Blue Swede, Jackson 5 and The Runaways, became the US’s second best-selling album soundtrack in 2014. The music stayed with you even after the credits, making it impossible not to google the tracks, hence the success of Awesome Mix. Volume 2 will have large shoes to fill.
The soundtrack of this film is not uniquely amazing, or mind blowing but deserves recognition solely on its nostalgia inducing abilities. Playing on our heartstrings and memories the film, itself a cinematic risk, features a wide ranging soundtrack with names like Coldplay, Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend. A decade’s worth of hits and favorites are condensed into a beautiful two hours. The perfect mix for a road trip, or for any other trip (More travel, less drugs) is the brainchild of music supervisor Meghan Currier, also behind the lineup of The Wolf of Wall Street. ‘Oops I Did It Again‘, ‘Deep Blue‘, ‘Soak up the Sun‘, the hits just keep on coming, causing major flashbacks to the time when they were all the rage, reminding us why they were and will continue to be immortal tunes.
3. Perks of Being a Wallflower:
Based on a critically acclaimed novel by Stephen Chbosky, this coming of age film was unlike other teenage dramas we’ve been subjected to. Each element of the film comes together to create a tasteful masterpiece, and this was evident right from the trailer. With Imagine Dragons playing to the foreground of ‘And in this moment, I swear we are infinite.’ Simply in those two minutes, the crescendo of the music and the audio takes you to a high which truly makes you feel infinite.
The progression of tracks in the movie resembles a normal bell curve, as we have the soft and slow sounds of ‘Asleep‘ (The Smiths) to the edgy ‘Come on Eileen‘ (Dexys Midnight Runners) and the triumphant feel of ‘Heroes‘ (David Bowie). With Sonic Youth and XTC in the playlist, coupled with the original score by Michael Brook the tunes provide fitting support to the lingering whirlwind on screen.
4. Hunger Games – Catching Fire:
The second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, the film is set in a dystopian world starring loveable Jennifer Lawrence as the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. Boasting of an impressive score by James Newton Howard, the soundtrack features some of the biggest names in the music industry. Coldplay’s ‘Atlas’, Aguilera’s ‘We Remain’ and Imagine Dragons ‘Who We Are’ all make up the vivid musical background to the crisp action and drama sequences.
Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, Lorde with ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ and Sia’s magnificent ‘Elastic Heart’, their sound merging well with the setting of the movie, creating a striking balance between audio and visual. Oh, and did I mention Mockingjay features ‘Hanging Tree’ composed by Howard and is J-Law’s singing debut? Check it out :
5. The Fault in Our Stars:
While it’s debatable if John Green’s novel by the same name translated perfectly on-screen or not, but oh, the music of this movie. It brought to life every moment, heightened all emotions (turs out THAT was possible) and generally made us feel both good and bad. The soundtrack consisted of the popular ‘Boom Clap’ by Charlie XCX, Kodaline’s ‘All I Want’ and ‘Not About Angels’ by Birdy. The most popular track has to be Ed Sheeran’s ‘All of the Stars’ easily the most memorable song in the mix, which actually played during the credits. It was every emotion in the movie in song form, it was really that perfect. On the whole, the music gelled brilliantly with every high and low on screen.
Thus concludes this list, the most popular and memorable hits in recent box office times. But there are still SO many movies who warrant a mention a least, movies like Submarine featuring original folk and art rock tracks by Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. A Walk to Remember featured four tracks of The Christian Rock band Switchfoot, a delightful mix of soft lilting music. And on the other side, Jack Black starrer School of Rock gave us healthy dose of The Doors, The Who and Led Zeppelin. And generous dose of Jack Black as well.
Progressing to soft and pop rock, Keira Knightley starrer Begin Again featured ‘Lost Stars’ by Adam Levine. The track with poignant lyrics and amazing vocals received a nomination at the 2015 Academy Awards. Moving sultry blues and pop music, the very recent 50 Shades of Grey does boast of an impressive set list, with Ellie Goulding, The Weeknd, Sia’s ‘Salted Wound’ and Beyonce’s ‘Haunted’
Unlike Bollywood, where most popular tracks originate from cinema, it’s interesting to see how independent tracks are adapted to a script. Shout out to all genius music supervisors/coordinators out there. May the music continue to make moments better.
By Manvika Athwani