Monday, August 15, 2011

Top 10 Movie Tracks

I recently saw Incendies, a devestating Canadian film. In it two scenes are scored by Radiohead's "You and whose army?". It's an odd choice considering both scenes are set in Afghanistan, you wouldn't really expect Radiohead while seeing child soldiers having their head shaved, but it really works. It's one of those rare occasions where you hear a familiar song fresh again, as if for the first time & it reminded me of the power of the soundtrack & if used well how it can muliply the emotional impact of a scene. It's stayed with me since & it got me thinking about other songs that have really had an effect on me either through the use of the song in the narrative, or just an awesome piece of music. So here's my Top 10 movie tracks, in no particular order:

Mad World - Gary Jules - Donnie Darko. For me there's two tracks that have had a lasting effect from Donnie Darko, Echo and the Bunnymens "Killing Moon", which is used to such outstanding effect during that opening sequence and Gary Jules's "Mad World". I chose Mad World because it seems to have carried on and had a life of it's own outside of the movie & I like how it polarises people between whether they like the Tears for Fears original or this excellent cover. Personally I like the original, but I never would've heard it had it not been for this version.

Where is my mind? - The Pixies - Fight Club. Is there any better melding of song to movie? The end sequence of the urban terrorism coming to it's full fruition is perfectly scored by this Pixies tune. Like Mad World, another example of a tune gaining popularity specifically from it's use in a film

Somewhere over the Rainbow - Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole e - Meet Joe Black. I think I'm one of only about ten people on the planet that actually enjoyed this movie (or at least admitted to it), but it's the tune that played during the closing credits which really struck me. The beautiful voice, the simplicity of the arrangement, I had no idea who it was but it kept me glued to my seat as the rest of the cinema filed out & that's about the best compliment I could've given.

Goin to Acapulco - Jim James & Calexico - I'm Not There. Not an easy movie to sit through, this Todd Haynes take on Bob Dylan. Particularly in the cheap seats at the Paramount theatre where your knees tend to be up around your chin, except for the three minutes that Jim James hits the screen, all white face paint & pure voice. Stunning version & easily the best thing about the movie. Except maybe for Cate Blanchett.

You and who's army? - Radiohead - Incendies. Radiohead while child soldiers get their heads shaved in Afghanstan? Shouldn't work but it does. Devastatingly so. See for yourself.

Big Sun - Eddie Vedder - Into The Wild. It's hard not to be moved by this film, particularly Emile Hirsch's portrayal of free spirit Chris McCandless. A film full of warmth, humanity and heart which this track by Eddie Vedder seems to capture perfectly. Also recommended from the soundtrack is 'Guaranteed'. "On bended knee/is no way to be free". Indeed.

Life on Mars - Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. David Bowie himself probably put it best: "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portugese I would never had heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with". Again, don't know why it works but it does.

Fucking in The Bushes - Oasis - Snatch. Oasis were past their best at this point, but the use of this opening track from "Standing on the shoulders of giants" for the final bare knuckle fight scene is perfect. A good example of a tune raising the dramatic level of a scene.

Exile - Enya - L.A Story. One of my favourite movies is this 1991 charmer from Steve Martin. On the surface, the story of wacky weatherman Harry Telemaker trying to find meaning in superficial la la land, Los Angeles. Scratch the surface however & there's a surprising amount of depth & heart. The movie is beautifully littered with classic Enya tunes, the pick of which is "Exile".

You're the best - Joe Esposito - Karate Kid. For the sake of interest, I've tried to avoid cliche or obvious choices (Eye of the tiger, Lose Yourself) but how could I leave this 1984 classic off? Is there any more stirring montage than Daniel working his way through the All Valley Karate Championship on route to a final show down with Johnny? I think not. By the way, the front face kick by Johnny at 0.46 is freakin Kick Ass!

Honorable mentions - Things have changed, Bob Dylan, Wonder Boys & Use me, Bill Withers, American Beauty.

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