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Staff Pick: Top 5 Thrilling Soundtracks You Need to Check Out!

Blog/FavouritesApril 7th 2017
Mark Gonzalez

Watching movies is easily one of my favourite things to do when I have the time - and part of the reason why I love film so much, is because motion picture soundtracks have always stood out to me. Don't get me wrong, a movie can be thrilling, funny, or dramatic thanks to the hard efforts of so many actors we see. But I also feel that it's the people behind the production and composition of the film that we need to shed a bit more light on as well. How dramatic is a fight scene without the blaring electric guitar and sound of explosions going on in the background? Would that death scene really make you teary eyed if that cover of Amazing Grace wasn't playing?

In this post, we're going to focus solely on the music of tense and powerful films. All of the corresponding choices happen to be excellent movies as well in my opinion, but without the efforts of these composers and featured artists, I'm not sure these films would've been viewed quite the same. Let's start at Number Five...

#5: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

One of the more iconic and depressing dramas of the 2000's that depicts the drug-induced utopia of four individuals living in Coney Island and how their lives were flipped upside-down once their addictions ran a bit too deep. For starters, the whole film is dark and definitely unforgettable, but it's the works of Clint Mansell featuring Kronos Quartet that really set the tone in this one. The soundtrack is an eclectic mix of hard hitting synth, hip-hop snares, symphonic violins and even ambient electronica. Such a mixture of tracks seems like it might be a mess at first, but the composers were able to cohesively fit all thirty-three tracks into one brilliant film that is sure to leave an impression.


#4: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Number Four belongs to a movie that took critics by surprise, but one that I was waiting for since its announcement. American fashion designer, Tom Ford, brings us a tale of love and revenge in this thriller based off the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. A wealthy art gallery owner receives a novel from her ex-husband that tells a violent and tragic story with a very symbolic meaning. Although the film is fast-paced itself, Abel Korzeniowski truly brought this story together with every track playing in the background. The slow symphonic sounds of the violins and piano complimented so many different scenes of the film and really conveyed the various emotions portrayed through Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams characters. If you're a fan of classical music or just simply prefer the sound of soothing instrumentals, definitely give this one a go.

Nocturnal screenshot

#3: Gravity (2013)

This one comes with little surprise since you may remember its Oscar win for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures back in 2014. Two astronauts fight to survive when an accident in space leaves them quite literally alone. Simple storyline, right? However, viewers of the film will find themselves watching almost every single move made by both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in the film.  Since 75% of the movie only involves one character and thus a lack of dialogue, the soundtrack suddenly became such a prominent part of the picture. Every tense scene, every reflectional moment, and every panoramic shot in space was brought to life with the music accompanying every frame. If you haven't given this one a listen yet and are a fan of the sci-fi genre, be sure to check it out.

Gravity screenshot

#2: Get Out (2017)

This movie doesn't have a 99% Rotten Tomato rating for no reason. It's a movie that will quite literally get right under your skin and make you leave the theatre feeling very weird.  Jordan Peele brings us a suspense film about a young man that visits his mysterious girlfriends family estate and uncovers their hidden and more sinister motives. From the moment the film starts, the audience feels tense and once the movie ends, this tension is still lingering. Michael Abels provides us with a soundtrack that already makes listeners jump in fear itself. The sounds are loud, dark, unexpected, and I felt they helped differentiate this film from the average horror you may have seen recently. Furthermore, what I found truly interesting about this soundtrack is that all of the lyrics in the songs relate directly to what is happening in the film, including the deliberate addition of Redbone by Childish Gambino. Pay close attention to the songs in this one - you'll definitely get more out of it.

Get out screenshot

#1. The Neon Demon (2016)

I have to admit, I struggled to decide on the #1 myself, but I truly believe this one takes the cake. The Neon Demon is not your typical Hollywood blockbuster and part of that is because of how artful the film is. The film tells the story of an aspiring model that moves to LA, where her youth and vitality gets devoured by jealousy that exists within the beauty industry. The movie is oddly beautiful and mainly because of the soundtrack behind all the stunning visuals. If you're into electronic music and the sound of the 90s synthesizer, this one is for you. I began listening to the soundtrack before I saw the film itself and instantly fell in love with it. Do the same and you should be able to paint a picture in your head of the type of the scene the songs correspond to - that's how well it fits with the movie. The whole album makes you feel like you're in a helpless trance and that is exactly what the film depicts the main character going through. If you have a strong stomach when it comes to blood and are a fan of Nicolas Winding Refn's previous works including the movie Drive, this is a must!


What are some soundtracks that stood out to you? Let me know on twitter @933CFMU!