The Music of Movies: Soundtracks that Make the Movie

Music to the Ears | Written By, Sachi Kondo |

Songs and sounds are often overlooked in a movie, when in fact these are key components to the concoction. Beyond the dynamics of excellent actor-director pairings, there is the sonic experience that film directors immerse themselves into, where epic collaborations with sound designers take place. Huge names in film like Gus Van Sant and Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki have placed importance on sound that gives the motion picture a new pace. This week, we appreciate the novelty of curating sounds and music that supports the story telling of a movie.

Baby Driver

(via IndieWire)

Dubbed as a music nerd’s dream, the tale of a highly skilled getaway driver who relies on a steady soundtrack to counteract his tinnitus (hearing disorder) may appear to be a movie about driving cars, when in fact it’s the music that drives the movie.

Edgar Wright packaged this car-chase thriller in a motion picture built wholly around the soundtrack. Thanks to award-winning sound editor Julian Slater, Wright achieved what he envisioned: to sync up each element of the movie with a song’s running time. The blend of music, action, and sound effects in Baby Driver were meticulously considered, even down to the first voice of the soundtrack and the last you hear in the movie (it’s Jon Spencer’s, by the way). The chase sequences serve as a backdrop to the high-energy classic rock curation, then adrenaline is slowed down with soul and jazz. From Queen to Brenda Holloway, Baby Driver’s 30-plus soundtrack is a synthesis of cool and warm. 

Trainspotting

(via Time Out)

From Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life ringing in the film’s opening to the final beats of Underworld’s Born Slippy, Trainspotting is much about the music as it about the drugs. Music plays a pivotal part in Welsh’s translation from the book to the big screens; we could say it was a clever way to show off one’s record collection. Welsh himself paid tribute to The Pistols and The Clash whom he claimed inspired the birth of Trainspotting.

The soundtrack spans from eighties staples to newer sounds, moving through a period of time on a ‘sensual rather than documentary level’. Producer Danny Boyle tried to capture the ‘irresistible’ spirit of the book in the film via music, voiceover, costume, and boldness; and it uncovered a new wave of punk and Britpop running through the same vein as the message about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Boyz N The Hood

Seen as a snapshot of urban music circa 1991, the Boyz N The Hood soundtrack eloquently narrates the lives of three boys growing up in 90s South Central LA through gangsta rap of the era, R&B, funk and jazz cuts. John Singleton, who wrote and directed the film at the age of 23, also executive produced the soundtrack claiming that music was essential to his provocative directorial debut-turned-filmmaking-legacy. Boyz N The Hood earned him the title of the first African American and the youngest person to ever receive an Oscar nomination for Best Director. From Ice Cube’s ‘How To Survive In South Central’ to the East Coast boom-bap ‘Just A Friendly Game of Baseball’ by Main Source, watching this legendary classic today will transport you back to heyday of glorious Southern rap. As André 3000 proclaimed in 1995, The South got something to say.

Chef

(via AARP)

The title of the movie is self-explanatory; Chef is a Jon Favreau feel-good comedy about food. It’s a feast for the eyes but also to the ears! The soundtrack worked around Chef is an eclectic platter of rhythmic music ranging from various cultures and decades, but it was best described as a ‘celebration for America’s inherited sounds and tastes.’

Music supervisor Mathieu Schreyer helped the curation of the lively Afro-Cuban rhythms, New Orleans jazz, and smooth blues that rightly serve as background music en route to Miami, New Orleans, and Austin — aligning with the food truck’s each stop represented through their respective cuisines and tunes.

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