music Soundtracks

The Best Film Music of 2011

The best film music this year featured strong scores from composers like Cliff Martinez and Mychael Danna, whilst also providing us with plenty of memorable moments in the shape of individual tracks.

Soundtrack releases are often treated like the ugly duckling relation to a movie – I’m still waiting for an official soundtrack for Somewhere from last year – as it can often be just another commercial tie-in to a movie or bogged down by rights issues.

But when it is done right, there is something unique about music on film: it can sonically charge your emotions whilst sitting in the cinema or viscerally remind you of a film when you fire up the iPod.

As always there is some overlap between the use of pre-existing songs on soundtracks and scores written especially for the film, but the picks below all stood out for how they enriched their respective movies.

Given the varied nature of online music distribution these days, you’ll be able to find the albums and tracks at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other places online (if not just email me).

* N.B. As I haven’t yet seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo I’ll have to reserve judgement on that score for the time being *


Another Earth by Fall on Your Sword – Blending pulsating electronic elements with quiter atmospherics, this played a major role in reflecting the startling ideas and themes of Mike Cahill’s low budget sci-fi drama. More varied than a first listen might suggest, it is worth keeping an ear out for the mix of instrumentation.

Drive by Cliff Martinez & Various Artists – A fantastic blend of songs by artists like Desire and College, along with some pulsating, moody electronica by Cliff Martinez, helped make this one of the most distinctive soundtracks of the year. Not only was it central to the cool aesthetic of the film, given the lack of dialogue it was almost a supporting character in the movie.

Hanna by The Chemical Brothers – Joe Wright’s stylish thriller was given a pleasing jolt by the electronic beats on the soundtrack. Action sequences such as a prison escape and an extended rumble at a train station were given a real lift by the unusual instrumentation and sounds. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become influential in movie trailers and TV spots for other movies.

Hugo by Howard Shore – The score to Scorsese’s ingenious love letter to the early days of cinema was a playful and sometimes deceptively light concoction. But it fitted the visual delights on screen perfectly, whilst also accentuating the deeply emotional closing stages. I suspect this film will be revisited in years to come (after all the industry chatter about awards and box office) and that the score will be a key part of how people connect with it.

Jane Eyre by Dario Marianelli – British costume dramas can often be stodgy way of squandering public money as BBC Films pander to middlebrow taste buds. But this exquisitely realised adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel was well served by an atmospheric score which mined the psychological depths of the book and gave it an extra emotional kick.

Moneyball by Mychael Danna – Perhaps the most memorable score of the year was this electrifying companion to Bennett Miller’s marvellous adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book. The subtle use of strings and piano cleverly contain the emotion throughout and the individual pieces ‘The Streak’ and ‘Turn Around’ accompany one the best film sequences I’ve seen in years.

Shame by Various Artists & Harry Escott – An eclectic selection of music added to Steve McQueen’s outstanding drama. Not only did we have Carey Mulligan singing “New York, New York” and Glenn Gould playing Bach, but there were also great uses of tracks from Blondie and Chic. Also listen out for music from a key scene that sounds just like Hans Zimmer’s Journey to the Line from The Thin Red Line (1999).

Super 8 by Michael Giacchino – J.J. Abrams’ homage to early Spielberg movies was boosted by this lush reworking of John Williams. Like the film, it was a fascinating example of an artist finding his own voice through the work of another. Reminiscent of Giacchino’s pioneering work in television with Lost (2004-2010) and his recent scores for Pixar, it provided a big emotional component to the film.

The Descendants by Various Artists – The first mainstream American movie scored exclusively with Hawaiian music was an unexpected treat. Its distinctive use of guitars and instruments native to the Aloha State and helped provide some unexpectedly touching moments. Like Payne’s film it avoided bluster and cliché, complementing the bittersweet nature of the film.

The Ides of March by Alexandre Desplat – This moody score provided a suitable backdrop for George Clooney’s political drama. Although the sound design and use of ‘musical silence’ is striking in places, the heavy use of strings suits the film like a glove. Clooney seemed to be channelling his favourite films of the 1960s and 1970s (especially Alan Pakula and Sidney Lumet) and whilst it wasn’t on par with Michael Small’s classic minimalism, it was in its own way a powerfully understated score.

The Skin I Live In by Alberto Iglesias – Another memorable score from Iglesias was for his regular collaborator Pedro Almodovar. It was something of a departure for the director, as he descended into Cronenberg territory and the music reflected this, creating a marvellous atmosphere of unease. There was also a dash of Bernard Herrman (although not as much as 2004’s Bad Education) which added to the mix.

The Tree of Life by Alexandre Desplat/Various Artists – The story of music and this film is an interesting one as Alexandre Desplat wrote a score which director Terrence Malick mostly replaced with classical selections instead. Pieces by Ottorino Respighi, Bedrich Smetana and John Tavener were just some of the composers whose music helped make the film utterly transcendent.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by Alberto Iglesias – It was a surprise to see Pedro Almodóvar’s regular composer score this rich and haunting John Le Carre adaptation. But along with the brilliantly executed technical aspects of the film, the subtle use of strings played a big part in recreating the pervasive Cold War atmosphere. A version of Le Mer as the film reaches its climax stands out as perhaps the best ever use of Julio Iglesias in a movie.

Win Win by Lyle Workman and The National – Perhaps the single best use of a song this year was including The National’s Think You Can Win over the closing credits of Tom McCarthy’s quietly brilliant film. But the score also provided a rich musical accompaniment with acoustic guitars creating a tangible mood that suited the bittersweet nature of the comedy-drama.


  • Fall On Your Sword – The First Time I Saw Jupiter (from Another Earth)
  • Desire – Under Your Spell (from Drive)
  • Dario Marianelli – Wandering Jane (from Jane Eyre)
  • Mychael Danna – The Streak (from Moneyball)
  • Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations BWV 988: Aria (from Shame)
  • The Chemical Brothers – Escape 700 (from Hanna)
  • Julio Iglesias – Le Mer (from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
  • Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest (from The Descendants)
  • ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down (from ‘Super 8’)
  • Zbigniew Preisner – Lacrimosa (from The Tree of Life)
  • The National – Think You Can Wait (from Win Win)

What film music did you really respond to this year?

> Best DVD & Blu-rays of 2011
> Best Film Music of 2010

music Soundtracks

Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack Sampler

Trent Reznor recently released details and samples from his upcoming score to David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

On his official website, he wrote:

For the last fourteen months Atticus and I have been hard at work on David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. We laughed, we cried, we lost our minds and in the process made some of the most beautiful and disturbing music of our careers. The result is a sprawling three-hour opus that I am happy to announce is available for pre-order right now for as low as $11.99. The full release will be available in one week – December 9th.

You have two options right now:

VIsit iTunes here where you can immediately download Karen O’s and our version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” when you pre-order the soundtrack for $11.99.

You can also check it on soundcloud and also see how popular it is by checking the number of plays. click here for more info if you want to know how to get more soundcloud plays for your music.

You will also be able to exclusively watch the legendary 8-minute trailer you may have heard about (no purchase necessary obviously). We scored this trailer separately from the film, BTW.


Visit our store here. We’re offering a variety of purchasing options including multiple format high-quality digital files, CDs and a really nice limited edition deluxe package containing vinyl and a flash drive.

In addition, RIGHT NOW you can download a six-track, 35 minute sampler with no purchase necessary.

You can also listen to selected tracks here:

Dragon Tattoo Sampler by ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

The full track listing is:

1. Immigrant Song
2. She Reminds Me Of You
3. People Lie All The Time
4. Pinned and Mounted
5. Perihelion
6. What If We Could?
7. With the Flies
8. Hidden In Snow
9. A Thousand Details
10. One Particular Moment
11. I Can’t Take It Anymore
12. How Brittle The Bones
13. Please Take Your Hand Away
14. Cut Into Pieces
15. The Splinter
16. An Itch
17. Hypomania
18. Under the Midnight Sun
19. Aphelion
20. You’re Here
21. The Same As the Others
22. A Pause for Reflection
23. While Waiting
24. The Seconds Drag
25. Later Into the Night
26. Parallel Timeline (Alternate Outcome)
27. Another Way of Caring
28. A Viable Construct
29. Revealed In the Thaw
30. Millenia
31. We Could Wait Forever
32. Oraculum
33. Great Bird of Prey
34. The Heretics
35. A Pair of Doves
36. Infiltrator
37. The Sound Of Forgetting
38. Of Secrets
39. Is Your Love Strong Enough?

Sony also recently released this 8-minute trailer, which is quite an interesting thing to do before a major release like this:

The film opens in the UK on Boxing Day.

Official site
> Trent Reznor

music Soundtracks

Jon Hopkins Tracks on Soundcloud

British musician and composer Jon Hopkins has made four tracks available via Soundcloud.

If you saw the low budget sci-fi Monsters last year then you would have heard his evocative ambient score and he has also worked with Brian Eno in addition to producing his own acclaimed albums.

He has posted four tracks on Soundcloud, a music site popular with many professional musicians, including a remix of David Lynch’s recent single I Know.

You can listen to them below:

Jon Hopkins – Monsters Theme by Jon Hopkins

David Lynch – I Know (Jon Hopkins Remix) by Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins – The Wider Sun & Vessel by Jon Hopkins

Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (Jon Hopkins Remix) by Jon Hopkins

> Jon Hopkins
> More on Jon Hopkins at Wikipedia
> Buy the Monsters Soundtrack via iTunes or Amazon UK

music News Soundtracks

Tindersticks Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009

Tindersticks have announced the release of their collection of film scores for director Claire Denis.

Titled Claire Denis Film Scores 1995–2010, the boxed set includes the six soundtracks the band have done for the French filmmaker over the last fifteen years.

Ranging from Nenette et Boni (1996) to the recently acclaimed White Material (2009), it also includes 35 Shots of Rum (2008), Trouble Every Day (2001) and two solo soundtracks: Stuart Staples’ score for The Intruder (2004) and Dickon Hinchliffe’s score for the sensual Vendredi Soir (2002).

To accompany the release, the band will be performing a series of concerts in cinematic seetings, bringing together the music with the evocative images that inspired it.

After performing at the San Francisco Film Festival in May 2011, the project has gathered interest and momentum and further performances are being scheduled across Europe in 2011.

The first of these to be announced is at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 26th April (19:30) in conjunction with the British Film Institute, with a special screening of Nenette et Boni at the BFI Southbank on the 27th April (18:30, NFT1), followed by an onstage Q&A with Claire Denis and lead singer Stuart Staples, discussing their work together and artistic affinity.

* UPDATE 29/03/11: You can now listen to some of the tracks on Soundcloud.

TINDERSTICKS – Claire Denis Film Scores BOX SET PREVIEW by Constellation Records

Staples has said in a statement:

“Sometime in Paris ‘95, I thought it was La Cigalle, she says it was the Bataclan, I’m not sure. That is where we met anyway, one of those places, after a concert. She was writing the screenplay for Nenette et Boni and something in our song ‘My Sister’ had clicked with her, she asked us if we would like to make the music for the film. We had film scoring pretensions, soundtrack music had always been a thing of David’s from when we met way back (though we could barely play, we had dreams).

It seemed the right next move for us, it fitted with the energy and flow of our band. We had this thing about Miles Davis’ Lift to the Scaffold. Passing through Paris he stopped off at the studio with his band and recorded the score right there and then, in a day, watching the film for the first time and reacting musically. Seemed like a good place to start. I suppose the essence was there, that’s how we began, and after a few fumbling months we delivered the music for Nenette et Boni, nervously. That’s how it all started, maybe we just got on, had some kind of understanding; we have never really talked about it. I was told she said in an interview that we understand her films before she does; maybe that’s true in some way, but I think she was just being gracious.

Approaching each film has always asked us to step into an unknown, stretch ourselves and do things we did not think we were able. At the end we always feel changed in some way. This has fed into all our other music and is a contributing factor to why we’re still struggling to catch our ideas after all these years, still frustrated and fascinated in equal measure. Other people have asked us to score their films, but we always reached a point where we realised that the freedom and conversation Claire affords (and expects from) us is not there, and then it becomes something different, making music for a purpose (money?) – something we’re well aware we have never been very good at.”

The soundtracks will be available for the first time together on CD, vinyl and download on Constellation Records and are released worldwide on April 26th 2011.

> Tindersticks
> More details on the London gigs in April
> Claire Denis at Wikipedia

Lists music Soundtracks

The Best Film Music of 2010

My favourite film music of the year included albums by Trent Reznor, Hans Zimmer and Daft Punk, whilst tracks by various artists including Zack Hemsey and Grizzly Bear also stood out.


Tron Legacy (EMI): The sequel to Tron was a mixed bag (great visuals, mediocre script) but the score by Daft Punk was unbeliveably epic, fusing their trademark electronica with an orchestra. [Amazon / YouTube]

Inception (Reprise): Hans Zimmer’s score for Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster mixed electronic elements, strings and the guitar of Johnny Marr to brilliant effect. [Amazon / YouTube]

The Social Network (Pid): Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross gave David Fincher’s film about the origins of Facebook a dazzling electronic flavour, at turns pulsating and atmospheric. [Official site / Amazon / YouTube]

The Kids Are Alright (Lakeshore Records): A traditional, but shrewdly assembled collection of traditional and modern songs (featuring the likes of MGMT and David Bowie) which fitted the themes of Lisa Colodenko’s film perfectly. [Amazon / YouTube / The Playlist]

Greenberg (Parlophone): A solid collection of songs from James Murphy alongside tracks by The Steve Miller Band, Duran Duran, Nite Jewel and Galaxie 500. [Amazon / YouTube]

127 Hours (Polydor): Danny Boyle films usually have a memorable soundtrack and this is no exception, featuring music from A.R. Rahman and tracks by various artists including Free Blood, Bill Withers and Sigur Ros. [Amazon / YouTube]

Black Swan (Sony): For Darren Aronofsky’s reworking of Swan Lake, Clint Mansell reworked elements of Tchaikovsky’s original music to spectacular effect. [Amazon / YouTube]

N.B. The soundtracks for Somewhere and Blue Valentine would have easily made the list if they were available to purchase in the UK.


The following tracks are not all directly from soundtracks, but may also have featured on trailers and TV spots for various films.

You can download most of these tracks as a Spotify playlist here or just click on the relevant links to listen to them.

If you have any pieces of film related music you want to share, leave a comment below.

> The Best Films of 2010
> The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010


Daft Punk Tron Legacy Soundtrack

New details and samples of Daft Punk‘s hotly anticipated soundtrack to Tron: Legacy have surfaced online.

One of the more unlikely collaborations in recent years, it sees the French duo provide some seriously hip music to a film released by the studio that gave us Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers.

As a film studio Disney have in recent times increasingly focused on their family friendly cash-cows but Tron: Legacy is something of an exception.

A live-action sequel to the 1982 film about a computer hacker trapped inside a virtual world, it sees Jeff Bridges reprise his role from the original film and Garrett Hedlund play his son.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, who has carved out a considerable reputation making acclaimed CGI-driven commercials, it is one of the major cinema releases this Christmas.

Kosinski was keen to have Daft Punk compose the film score, saying:

“How could you not at least go to those guys?”

They recorded it with a 100-piece orchestra at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London and it mixes electronic and orchestral elements.

A teaser trailer for the film featured the duo and showcased the track “Derezzed” from the soundtrack.

On the official Facebook page for the soundtrack, two samples have been posted of ‘Derezzed’ and ‘The Game Has Changed’.

Recently on Radio 1 Annie Mac played the track ‘Tron Legacy (End Titles)’, much to the delight of fans.

Tron Legacy – End Titles by Mr HBF

Disney also released this six minute sample of the soundtrack on their site for the upcoming awards season:


This is the track list for “Tron: Legacy”:

  1. Overture
  2. The Grid
  3. The Son Of Flynn
  4. Recognizer
  5. Armory
  6. Arena
  7. Rinzler
  8. The Game Has Changed
  9. Outlands
  10. Adagio For Tron
  11. Nocturne
  12. End Of Line
  13. Derezzed
  14. Fall
  15. Solar Sailer
  16. Rectifier
  17. Disc Wars
  18. C.L.U.
  19. Arrival
  20. Flynn Lives
  21. Tron Legacy (End Titles)
  22. Finale

The album is available for pre-order in standard and deluxe editions or

The 22-track disc will is out on December 7th, with the Disney film arriving in theaters on December 17th.

> Pre-order the Tron: Legacy soundtrack on Amazon UK
> Official site for the soundtrack
> Find out more about Tron: Legacy at Wikipedia

Competitions Soundtracks

Competition: The Wackness

We have a couple of CD soundtracks of The Wackness to give away this week, which features the following tracks:

  1. The What” – The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Method Man
  2. You Used To Love Me” – Faith Evans
  3. Flava In Ya Ear” – The Notorious B.I.G.Craig MackRampageLL Cool J and Busta Rhymes
  4. Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
  5. Can’t You See” – Total feat. The Notorious B.I.G.
  6. I Can’t Wake Up” – KRS-One
  7. The World Is Yours” – Nas
  8. Can I Kick It?” – A Tribe Called Quest
  9. Heaven & Hell” – Raekwon
  10. Bump N’ Grind” – R. Kelly
  11. Just A Friend” – Biz Markie
  12. Tearz” – Wu-Tang Clan
  13. Long Shot Kick De Bucket” – The Pioneers

To be in with a chance of winning just answer this simple question: 

In which year is The Wackness set?

Leave your answers in the comments below or email them to [email protected]

The competition is open til midnight next Thursday and the two winners will be notified next Friday.

Cinema Interviews Soundtracks

David Holmes on Ocean’s Thirteen

David HolmesOcean’s Thirteen is out today and earlier this week I was fortunate enough to meet up with David Holmes who has scored the music for all of the 3 films starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

Since coming to prominence in the 90s with such acclaimed albums as This Film is Crap Let’s Slash the Seats (1995) and Let’s Get Killed (1997) he came to the attention of director Stephen Soderbergh.

He was then asked to do some music for Out of Sight (1998) and three years later to score the remake of Ocean’s Eleven (2001). That collaboration was so successful that they re-teamed for Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and now Ocean’s Thirteen.

I spoke to David about his work on all three films, what he wanted to achieve with this score and how music from films has been an influence throughout his career.

Listen to the interview here:


To subscribe to the Interview Podcast via iTunes just click the image below:

Ocean’s Thirteen is out at UK cinemas today

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Find local showtimes for Ocean’s Thirteen via Google Movies
> Buy the Ocean’s Thirteen soundtrack at Amazon UK
> Find out more about David Holmes at the All Music Guide