Much could be said about our modern-day movie score Mozarts, the people who bring the mood-changing power of music to the big screen. Composers like John Williams have made geeks out of all of us, as hearing recognizable melodies from Batman and Star Wars can still make us giddy. Needless to say, writing a list of the Top 5 Film Composers or Top 5 Reasons I May or May Not Want to Marry Danny Elfman would be easy. Too easy. So I challenged myself to dig deep, and with a little help from my friends, I came to realize that John, Hans, and Danny were not the only ones who made music for motion pictures. Some of our favorite band members have deviated from concert life to focus on composing, and thus, this list was born.
Nick Cave is a master of suspense, and his scores are as memorable as the movies themselves. He’s had his musical hand in the scores for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Lawless, and The Proposition, amongst others, and he does all of this when he’s not releasing albums with his band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (like their latest, Push the Sky Away).
Listening to Nine Inch Nails growing up, I secretly wanted to be rebellious, but my fear of consequences prevented me from ever acting on this impulse. As an adult, though, I say consequences be damned! To a degree, anyway. Going to a concert the night before an 8AM work shift is about as radical as I get, thanks to the influence of Trent Reznor. While I’ve been busy revving up my rebellious all-nighters, Reznor has been lending his softened edge to the movies. He recently wrote the scores for The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, both of which make their respective movies that much more complete.
The frontman to heavy metal band Faith No More applied his musical background to 2009’s Crank: High Voltage and the upcoming The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Ray Liotta. Patton is unique in his ability to not only be hardcore, but to also evoke a certain emotion that empowers you to kick ass in the name of good and then cry about it when it’s over.
Radiohead has always been the type of band that I can listen to all day, though for the sake of my emotional stability, I probably shouldn’t. Jonny Greenwood, guitarist for the iconically somber band, has taken that sort of melancholic stroll down the emotional path of internal reflection and made it palpable in the film scores of such movies as There Will Be Blood and The Master.
The soundtrack to Tron: Legacy has got to be one of my favorite complete soundtracks since Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind. Daft Punk composed a beautiful score that perfectly speaks to the excitement of the film, placing the listener firmly into the world of the electronic soundscape. This is the ideal soundtrack to listen to while writing, reading, texting, napping, or coffee shop slumming. Be kind to your ears and get this soundtrack immediately.