It is December, which means it is the end of the year. Which means that people are rolling out or are getting ready to roll out their year end list of their favorite flicks. I love reading and seeing the trends on the lists, but I thought I would do something different, or something at the very least not seen as much.

Many films by themselves can be great, but sometimes it is the brilliance of a visionary composer or the superb usage of licensed music that carries a piece of cinema to legendary heights. Even an average scene can be more memorable or important than it really is because of perfectly aligned music. I’ve always been enamored with the melding of music and films.

So, yours truly has decided to look at some of the standout score tracks and licensed tracks that made their way into 2014 movies. For every release I have seen this year, I have listened extensively to every full length OST I have been able to get my hands ears on. However, there are surely magnificent pieces of music I am missing simply because I haven’t had the time to look at every noteworthy movie in the year. Let me know what you liked, and what I still need to listen to.

With that said, I’ve been able to catch a good deal. This isn’t a ranking, but rather just a series to spotlight some really solid tracks, both of original score and licensed music, that have appeared throughout the year in film. And dealing with score tracks, sometimes the titles of them do give away specific moments in the film. Not always, but occasionally, so there may inadvertently be slight spoilers. Make sense? Let’s begin…

Everything is Awesome, from The Lego Movie

What more can be said about this one? It sounds so simplistic and harmless and inspiring, and in many ways it is. But seeing it in the context of the film alludes to the dangers of being too team-centric. It is really a clever song if you think about it. I originally disliked it, but the more and more it came on I fell into its infectious charm and wittiness. Too hard to resist.

Lemurian Star, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Hearing the swelling begin in this immediately makes the fact known that TWS is a different Marvel movie, one that is more grounded and serious in its nature. The feeling is evident that the stakes, even without knowing what they particularly are yet, are raised. Awesome opening music.

Fury, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Aptly described track here. Not only does it refer to Agent Nick Fury, but the specific moment in the movie where the entire Marvel Universe is changed forever. And this moment itself is furious, filled with intensity and uncertainty punctuated by the jagged electronic noises and energetic strings.

The Winter Soldier, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Talk about build in a track. The Winter Soldier track does a brilliant job of utilizing some off-kilter sounds with minimal production at the beginning of it to build a sense of awe and wonder when you-know-who makes finally makes his long-awaited arrival into the film. It is almost horror-ish and frightening in its tone. Once the real meat comes in the song, it hits like a ton of bricks.

Godzilla!, from Godzilla (2014)

Appearing right at the start over the opening credits, this theme sets the tone for the latest iteration of “The King of Monsters” by taking a nod from the past. It is by no means a carbon copy of the 1954 theme, but listen closely and similarities can be heard:

The new theme feels exactly how Godzilla should be: bold, processional-like, full of strength, and I don’t like to use this word often, but epicness. Also, another nice nod when this theme was playing? Taking an interesting, historical look at the origins of the big guy.

The Power Plant, from Godzilla

Godzilla’s soundtrack was composed by Alexandre Desplat, a man not known for lending his talents to blockbusters (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The Queen). Never would have guessed it, as throughout the score, he really seems to have a feel for what is needed in the movie. After a few listens to just the first few tracks, it is quite evident that Desplat has a soft spot for robust strings and horns of all varieties. This one is no different, fitting perfectly into the critical scene it arrives in with tons of fortissimo, driven not just by the punctuating horns but the relenting Japanese drums. But when the scene mellows out, so does the back end of The Power Plant, taking on a more somber feel.

Raise Those Hands, from Neighbors

A movie based around not growing up and endless partying needs a killer party scene, accompanied by equally killer electronic/dubstep. This does the job here, literally making the viewer feel like we’re right there in the party with the glow sticks, dance battles, endless supply of alcohol, and sex going on in the other room.

 Hope (Xavier’s Theme), from X-Men: Days of Future Past

Yours truly may not have adored Days of Future Past like others (and that is of course fine), but this singular track may be up there with the best I’ve heard all year in anything. Aided by layers of strings, a deliberate piano, and with what I’d describe as a restrained brass section, it all comes together to create a theme that invokes uncertainty, sadness, but most importantly, hope and belief that things can change for Professor X in his time of self-doubt. Really poignant and touching.

Stay tuned for Part 2…


Photo credit goes to

All music credits go to the men and women who composed them, and YouTube for acquiring the license to make them available.

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