“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel
Have you ever gone to a theatre and watched a movie with no music, and come away thinking that that movie was amazing? Probably not. That’s because a great soundtrack and score can elevate a film to levels that it could never achieve without music. Too often, when thinking about what makes a movie great, we immediately think of the actors, the plot, the special effects, and so on. All these aspects contribute to making a great film, but let’s not forget the importance of music.
Think about your favorite movies of all time. Think about the memories that you have of them, and I can almost guarantee you that the music of those films will come flooding back to you. Whether it’s “The Force Theme” as Luke Skywalker gazes into Tatooine’s setting suns, or Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” in the final moments of The Breakfast Club, the music from our favorite movies will always hold a special place in our hearts, whether we are aware of it or not.
Here are some great movies with amazing soundtracks that can turn any dull, normal day into an epic adventure!
It is only fitting for a film like The Matrix to be full of dark and intense rock, electronic, and breakbeat tunes. The soundtrack contains songs by Rob Zombie, Rage Against the Machine, and Rammstein. The music in The Matrix is nearly as memorable as the special effects, which completely broke new ground in the movie world and showed how cool a movie could be with an amazing special effects crew working on the film.
The most memorable songs on the soundtrack are Propellerheads’ “Spybreak!” which is the music played during the infamous lobby shootout scene, and “Clubbed to Death” by Rob Dougan, the background song for the scene with the Woman in the Red Dress.
The Matrix soundtrack rocks hard and rocks often, and is great for a workout or psyching yourself up for a busy day.
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If you missed the release of this film in late 2012, you aren’t alone. A combination of minimal advertising and bad timing delayed its release and caused it to go unnoticed by many, which is a great shame. Jack Reacher is one of the most entertaining, well written, and masterfully directed action thrillers in years. It centers around the titular character of Jack Reacher, a retired military cop who finds himself in the midst of a whole lot of bad luck and trouble. When five seemingly random civilians are shot in a city square, Reacher will do anything and everything necessary to find the killer, save an innocent man, and clear his own name.
The main theme of Jack Reacher (composed by Joe Kramer) is rich, slow, and brooding, until it crescendos into a deep and menacing drive, dictating the pace of the film from its opening moments.
Maybe you have a performance review coming up at work, or perhaps you need a little extra confidence boost in asking the boss for a raise. The score from Jack Reacher is the ultimate ‘give me what I want, and give it to me now’ soundtrack.
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Remember the Titans
Someone on the music team of Guardians of the Galaxy must have watched Remember the Titans and thought, “Hey, we should totally have a soundtrack like this in our movie!” Featuring songs by James Taylor, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Marvin Gaye, Cat Stevens, and The Temptations, the Remember the Titans soundtrack makes a better ‘Best of the 60’s’ album than, well, anything. This feel good compilation of great tunes perfectly accompanies the Titans’ rise to fame, and forms a perfect backdrop for exploring the issues of racism, discrimination, love, family, and brotherhood that make up the core of the film. The music doesn’t just provide a solid background to the film. Some songs are also featured heavily in the actual narrative of the movie, most noticeably “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” The music of Remember the Titans is a genius compilation that forms the driving force behind the movie, and is the glue and seamlessly holds all the scenes together. Prepare to get your groove on.
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
The soundtrack for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was (surprisingly) subject to mixed reviews from critics. Major complaints stated that while the music itself was quite good, Klaus Badelt’s score wasn’t ‘piratey’ enough. That may have been the case in 2003, but now, the themes from this score have practically become synonymous with the concept of open sea adventure and treasure hunting.
The score from Pirates is great. It’s instantly memorable and has more than one extremely catchy theme. It’s loud and in punchy and provides grand overtures throughout the film. The score is practically dripping in adventure. One of the best uses of the score is when Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner first meet, the sounds of their swords clashing against each other is perfectly synchronized to the music, which creates a wonderful blend between action and rhythm. If you need some extra adventure to get through the day, go with Pirates.
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At first glance, this soundtrack seems like it is all over the place. And that first glance would prove to be correct. Featuring artists like Luis Bacalov, John Legend, Rick Ross, Jim Croce, and Brother Dege, it seems like director Quentin Tarantino took handfuls out of a musical grab-bag and threw them in his film. But in reality, Tarantino has carefully hand-picked each song, and somehow this mix of Italian, hip-hop, rap, folk, and blues all work together to form a great, cohesive soundtrack. It’s harsh when it needs to be, funny when it’s necessary, and intense when the bullets start to fly. Perhaps one of the best parts of the retail version of the soundtrack is the inclusion of several snippets of some of the best dialogue from the film. These spoken portions of the soundtrack vary from important plot points to hilarious one-liners. All in all, the Django Unchained soundtrack is good for a laugh, and also good to let off a little steam.
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Let’s not upset the masses by claiming that Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” is the best Bond song. Don’t worry Sir Paul, “Live and Let Die” will always be our favorite. But Cornell’s rockin’ opening theme really set the tone for the entire new direction that the 007 franchise would head in from Casino Royale onward. Daniel Craig and the team behind Casino Royale have completely reinvented 007’s character, and it was clear from the very beginning of this film that Craig wouldn’t be playing some wimpy, pretty-boy version of everyone’s favorite MI6 agent. He’s big, violent, and brutal, and the new Bond’s attitude and demeanor are reflected in the hard-hitting opening sequences, featuring Cornell’s rock theme.
The rest of the score cleverly uses the chorus from “You Know My Name” throughout the movie, and also often incorporates the classic James Bond theme from 1962’s Dr.No. The score is eerie at times, but is mostly fast-paced, with heavy percussion, loud orchestration, and the repeated motifs of the two Bond themes. This soundtrack would also be a great workout companion.
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Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
From the moment the blaring horns ring in the title card to the iconic closing theme that plays at the end of all six films, Star Wars is filled with instantly memorable and remarkable music. What is there to say about Star Wars Episode IV that hasn’t been said a million times? Wonderfully crafted and directed, it is the movie to end all other movies. There are no praises high enough to do it justice, and the same goes for John Williams’ incredible score. While other entries in the Star Wars saga introduced us to incredible pieces of music like “The Imperial March” and “Across the Stars,” A New Hope did it first and did it best. Whether it’s the gorgeous and swelling “Force Theme” or the jaunty “Cantina Band,” every bit of music is perfect, and is perhaps the most recognizable musical score of all time.
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The first Transporter film is pretty awesome. It is fresh and original, and stars this guy named Jason Statham that nobody had heard of when it was released, except for Guy Ritchie aficionados. It has the feel of a movie with a lot of passion put into it. Unfortunately, someone over in Hollywood saw it and thought it should have two sequels that were over-produced and filled with cheesy effects and irritating supporting actors. But the original Transporter is something special. It has great car chases and amazing fighting sequences that are choreographed to perfection. And in a movie where the protagonist is an ex-special forces transporter for hire, what else do you need?
The soundtrack is a great mix of rap, R&B, and electronica. Songs by Missy Elliot, Nate Dogg, and Knoc-Turn’Al are standout tracks, but electronic artists DJ Pone and Drixxxe really steal the show. Their rockin’ and scratchin’ beats are featured throughout the car chase and fight scenes. They returned in The Transporter 3 as Birdy Nam Nam to offer a single track to the film, which is easily the best moment of that movie. DJ Pone and Drixxxe’s electric tunes get your blood pumping and keep the film going at an exhilarating rate. If you need to get somewhere fast, like, really fast, then you can’t go wrong with The Transporter soundtrack.
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
If there has ever been a movie that perfectly defines the word ‘epic,’ surely it’s The Fellowship of the Ring, and the musical score is no exception. There are few soundtracks that reach the level of grandeur that Howard Shore’s impeccable score for Fellowship does. It perfectly expresses each emotion throughout every single scene in the film. Whether it’s the joy of being home in the Shire, the fear of the Hobbits on Weathertop, the eerie loneliness of Lothlorien, or the courage of the Fellowship in the Mines of Moria, Shore mirrors every thought and every feeling perfectly. Other Lord of the Rings films gave us great musical themes too, such as the theme of Rohan in The Two Towers, “Into the West” from Return of the King, or even the theme of the Misty Mountains from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. But Fellowship debuted so many pieces of music that are used constantly throughout the rest of the series that it is difficult not to refer to it as the best soundtrack of all six films.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Need a little excitement to get through the rest of the day? Then it’s Indy to the rescue! This amazing soundtrack will take any event in your life and turn it into a thrilling race against time and evil-doers. Your drive home has never been so exciting!
The Last Crusade is the grand culmination of everything that the previous Indiana Jones movies established before it. It is relentlessly action packed, has great characters, witty dialogue, and is downright hilarious at times. This movie is perfection, and somehow, the soundtrack is of an even greater caliber than the film itself.
John Williams and the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra make absolute musical magic together in this film. Every song is vivid and imaginative, and one can clearly picture every scene that accompanies each piece of the score. This is the kind of score that you can actually feel. And in the end, as the movie draws to a close, viewers are treated to one of the most iconic pieces of film and music history when Indy rides off into the sunset as the overture pushes him on.
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What are your favorite movie soundtracks? Which songs do you listen to to make your day more epic? Tell us in the comments!
-By Guest Contributor Dallin Schmidt