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How Does a Soundtrack Impact a Movie?


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Whenever I watch movies like ‘Baby Driver,’ ‘Pulp Fiction,’ and ‘La La Land,’ one thing that draws my attention is the music playing. Not the score, but the songs played throughout. Music plays a huge part in a movie, but it can also make or break the movie just based on song choice. Throughout this article, I’ll be looking at certain movies and their soundtracks. Potential spoilers for these movies could be ahead.

I’m going to start with a soundtrack that is considered iconic or what people say is one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. According to rollingstone.com, the movies with the best soundtracks include ‘Purple Rain,’ ‘Help!,’ ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ ‘Boogie Nights,’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (two of those movies are from The Beatles). However, I think the best movie soundtrack of the best is the soundtrack of ‘Pulp Fiction.’ Songs such as Kool & the Gang’s Jungle Boogie, Neil Diamond’s Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon, The Revels’ Comanche, and Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together are played at the right moments. These songs fit their respective scenes perfectly, whether it’d be two gangsters talking about random stuff or a boxer talking to a crime boss about his upcoming boxing match, these songs are played at the right time. However, Dick Dale & His Del-Tones’ Misirlou is played at the best time. At the beginning of a movie, a couple decides to rob a restaurant. As their robbery begins, a blaring guitar kicks in and the opening credits being to roll. A scene isn’t unfolding with the song, but the song usually gets the audience pretty pumped for the movie they are about to watch.

Let’s now get into soundtracks from movie musicals. Movie musicals can come from different directions, whether it’d be a Broadway musical having a screen adaptation or a musical originally written for screen (these sometimes get adapted to stage). Popular movie musicals range from ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Grease,’ ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Chicago,’ and ‘Les Misérables.’ On a sadder note (pun intended), there is a problem with movie musicals; they’re dying out. You don’t see movie musicals nowadays as much as you used to. That’s why the movie musical soundtrack I want to talk about here is ‘La La Land.’ This movie was a smashing success in 2016, and paid so much homage to the classic movie musicals. The movie pays homage through the music, with the songs composed by Justin Hurwitz and lyrics written by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul. There are only a few songs sung in ‘La La Land,’ but all of them are unique in their own way. City of Stars is simple song with a runtime roughly under two minutes. How simple is it? Well, have Ryan Gosling’s not-perfect-but-subtle crooner voice over a sweet piano medley and you’ve got yourself an Oscar for Best Song. Another song titled Another Day of Sun starts off the movie, and ultimately makes the beginning one of my favorite opening scenes of all time. While these songs stand out, other number such as Start a FireSomeone in the Crowd, and A Lovely Night are just fun, innovative tracks that make ‘La La Land’ the extravaganza that it is.

Strong song choices can give a scene pure emotion. Examples of these song choices include Sufjan Stevens’ Visions of Gideon making one of the most emotional of 2017 in ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (read review for more in-depth on this scene). I Dreamed a Dream from ‘Les Misérables’ shows the pain of a woman has been thrown in the bottom of a figurative hole and realizing she can’t climb out of it. Audition (The Fools Who Dream) from ‘La La Land’ exemplifies what someone goes through when you’re trying to make your dreams a reality. On the other hand, the movie that has the best moments of song choice is the music-fueled heist film ‘Baby Driver.’ The song choices in this movie basically carry the movie all the way to end. The scenes that have the best song choices in ‘Baby Driver’ are the action sequences. Like ‘La La Land,’ ‘Baby Driver’ opens with a bang. In fact, their opening scene is probably the strongest music moment in the movie. The scene is a bank robbery and car chase that includes Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s fast-paced song Bellbottoms. As the chase pursuits, the scene is intensified with a blood pumping guitar riff blaring with excitement. The excitement the guitar riff brings carries on until the end when the chase ends by the robbers getting out of their getaway car and driving in another. I honestly could go on with more moments in ‘Baby Driver’ with solid song choices, but I should probably wrap this up.

Now that I’ve told you about some of my favorite soundtracks and song choices from those movies, I encourage you to watch these movies and see for yourself what I mean. In fact, next time you watch that has a soundtrack pay attention to it. The songs might make or break the movie, but that’s for you to determine. I personally believe that if you pay attention to the soundtrack, you might view the movie from a different perspective. It can be a fun perspective or an odd perspective, again it’s all up to you to decide. So in the meantime, watch a movie, pay attention to soundtrack, or if you’re a little lazy watch a movie, then look up the film’s soundtrack and listen to it.

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How Does a Soundtrack Impact a Movie?