Let me first start by saying the omission in the piece of Begin Again, which would be right up there, is purely due to Lost Stars (deservedly) being nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. It remains one of the best soundtracks of the year.
The following song compilations, albums, soundtracks, whatever you want to call it, are not necessarily original though. I wanted to spotlight some music (not film score) from 2014 that truly earns a huge shout out. With the amount of time it took me to get this together and make my choices (okay, yes, twelve hours were just listening to music) I implore you to take the time to listen to the songs, and also check out their respective soundtracks – if you have not already.
Get On Up
The Godfather of Soul is probably a good place to start. Whether you have seen the Chadwick Boseman performance in Get On Up or not, there is always room for some James Brown if we’re talking about music. Especially when the movie is about him, so there is plenty of it. The movie focusses on Brown’s rise to fame, and features a ton of his records, including I Got You, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, and Please, Please, Please – to name just three. The soundtrack does also feature tracks from The Rolling Stones and The Midnighters.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
A collection of classic golden oldie pop songs from decades gone by (featuring David Bowie, The Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell etc), all of which you must surely recognise, would not be a soundtrack you would immediately associate with a super hero blockbuster. It is credit to Guardians of the Galaxy that these very songs give integral context to aspects of the characters and the narrative – in particular the lead character played by Chris Pratt. Not to mention giving the film some real heart not often enough used in this genre.
With over 50 music tracks featuring in the movie Boyhood (or at least the making of it) this says much more about the taste in music of the genius that is Richard Linklater. He has openly said that the music in the film also followed the styles of that particularly time they were shooting, as well as incorporating what Ellar Coltrane (and others) were listening to at that time. A further branch of the evolutionary success of the movie. As well as the popular stuff you remember from the film itself, Linklater also included Vampire Weekend, Tweedy, and Moreno Veloso.
Magic in the Moonlight
You have to have spent decades on Mars to not have a basis knowledge of the relationship between Woody Allen and jazz. Just a couple of movies ago he incorporated the likes of Cole Porter into the plot of Midnight In Paris. Porter turns up again on the playlist for Moonlight In Paris. As a movie it was quite the disappointment, but the jazz pieces and songs featured here, going back to the 1930s, is a much more enjoyable experience.
Xavier Dolan has almost redefined, or reinforced, the concept of mix tape with his latest film Mommy. There’s a piece of film score from Craig Armstrong and a classical / folk composition from Ludovico Einaudi (one of my personal favorite musicians). Add to that a little bit of Sarah McLachlan and Lana Del Rey, as well as popular hits from Oasis and Counting Crows (Colorblind, famously used in Cruel Intentions). I’m going to ignore the fact that there also appears to be songs by Celine Dion and Eiffel 65.
I confess to not being glued to the range of songs and music on offer on the soundtrack of Obvious Child when I saw it – though I was remarkably impressed with the movie. Listening to the music separately later though, I was impressed with the varied types of music. Beethoven turns up a couple of times, and some of the songs are irresistibly rock or folk. And I have in the process discovered some new music. And as movies like, for example, Juno and Safety Not Guaranteed have proven, that was a very good thing. The Obvious Child by Paul Simon is also in the movie. Obviously.
The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars has ripped out many a heart, but as a soundtrack it is almost perfect for mood-evoking and story-building for this generation’s young love and loss. As contemporary and conniving as television shows Grey’s Anatomy or Dawson’s Creek – the songs do a lot of the talking for you. Aside from the movie, which is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, this is in it’s own right a refreshingly thought-provoking collection of addictive tracks. Some recognisable and some new to the ear, but likely to cater for many a taste.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
The Hunger Games soundtracks have so far attempted to match the pace of the franchise. The latest covers some big beats or trance numbers, and dominated for the best part by contemporary female vocals. Including the hypnotic Bat For Lashes, and the remedying voice of Lorde (unfortunately Kanya West contributes – but he will not feature in this piece). Not forgetting to mention that our ears also bear witness to the not unpleasant sounds of a singing Jennifer Lawrence herself.
God Help The Girl
Adapting a previous collection of songs into a motion picture was a task Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebastian) handled proficiently. God Help The Girl is a homage to the kind of teen angst and ambition, and that indie pop many of us experienced and loved growing up. For me, this is a terrific and addictive set of songs, aiding the movies story, but also a great album to put your feet up to. Or have a dance. It’s up to you.
It is still up for debate to whether or not this is my favorite soundtrack of the entire year. Bookended (pun intended) pretty much by Simon & Garfunkel songs, this compilation for the Reese Witherspoon motion picture Wild pitches together one great artist performing a great song after another. Wings, Portishead, The Hollies, Bruce Springsteen, and a perfect Billy Swan rendition of Don’t Be Cruel. The list goes on. Even the more recent folk duo First Aid Kit blend right in. This album was always going to make this list, though, if it had this track on it: