(Clockwise from left: Jason Moran (Selma), Common and John Legend (Selma), Hans Zimmer (Chappie), Henry Jackman (Kingsman: The Secret Service))
Another end of year brings another installment done by yours truly in Movie Man Jackson. For those unaware of what this end of year feature is all about, think of it as a spotlight on some of the best musical pieces I found in films that I viewed during the year that were, save for a few, released in 2015.
Don’t consider this a ranking, but again, just a series to give some attention to some musical work I found to be compelling, catchy, mesmerizing, etc. in said films. Don’t consider this a comprehensive list, either. I try to see everything I can, but of course, a big film (or two or three) with a killer score may not always be found here, not because I don’t like its music, but because I simply didn’t watch the film. In my opinion, I cannot honestly blurb about what I liked/felt about the song chosen without watching the actual film—kind of like watching a film! Context is important! Feel free to let me know in the comments sections as to what I need to listen to and what, if anything, I got right!
A few short notes:
- Again, for the most part, the songs I’ve selected appear in movies that were released in the 2015 calendar year save for 1-2 movies.
- All of the songs I’ve selected appear in their respected movie. Some movies will have the official motion picture soundtrack as well as the official motion picture score. The score will (almost) always appear in the movie, whereas the soundtrack may appear here and there.
- Generally, the songs I have selected are from the respective scores. But, there are a few selections I’ve chosen from the soundtrack, because said song adds to the movie immensely.
- Not always, but some tracks from the score directly reference specific points in the movie. So, there may be slight spoilers!
- I will link to every musical piece, but I don’t control if and when the piece gets taken down from YouTube 😦
- I’m no musical whiz, nor know every exact instrument (though I do still play the trumpet from time to time :)), I just try to highlight what I really enjoy about the featured selection/selections, sometimes grouped and looked at more collectively than individually.
- I’ve tried to start at the beginning of the year and work through it, though there may be the occasional film OST that I finally got around to listening to that makes its appearance later in the series.
Make sense? Let’s get it started!
Composed by Jason Moran, this track, starting with the piano for a good solid minute and then introducing the strings, paints the picture and sets up the horror of the task that Dr. King and the SCLC have to go through in order to be heard. It is very somber piece, but a determined one as well, as the bass drum reflects the grit and the resilience of those in the march.
Of course, no series would be complete without the song that won the Oscar for Best Original Song last year. John Legend and Common takes a look at the events that the film is portraying, but just as important, connecting them to the troubles with race in present day. The lyrics are simple: We are not there, but we’re working to it, and the hope is once we achieve it, it will be glorious. The perfect song to end Selma on.
Fifty Shades of Grey
Love Me Like You Do
That sound you hear is all of my street cred going out of the door after posting this track. But seriously, Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t a great movie, but its soundtrack, overall, is a positive. In my original post, I said that while I liked the soundtrack, it felt a little too bubbly to me, considering the subject matter of the story. Now, upon further review, I don’t have as much of a problem with it, maybe because I finally understand that FSOG, despite its heavy subject matter, is really just a teen love story (I didn’t read the book) seen from the perspective of Ana, like this song by Ellie Goulding is written from. Of course she’s going to be enamored with a super rich and suave guy, even if he’s a little singular in his tastes.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Manners Maketh Man
Every spy franchise needs a notable theme, and if Kingsman becomes a franchise (looks like it will), this motif will be the one that people equate with the franchise. The tracks, making heavy use of brass, are equal parts regal, but chaotic as well. Henry Jackman, also the mastermind behind scores from Big Hero 6, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Kick Ass, appears to be very comfortable scoring action films.
Sofa Rockers (Richard Dorfmeister Remix)
Sympathy for the Devil
Focus may become redundant with its twist on twist, “con-ception” game by the end of its runtime, but it is hard to deny that is just so smooth, stylish, and effortless in doing so, and the soundtrack really sets that up. The song by the Sofa Rockers is played when Nicky (Will Smith) is teaching Jess how to be a great con. The other song by The Rolling Stones puts a period on what is one of the best gambling scenes of recent memory in movies. They, like many other tracks in the soundtrack, doesn’t pop out, but it is reflective of its main characters in that the less attention drawn to themselves, the better. But, they get under your skin.
The Only Way Out of This
A Machine That Thinks and Feels
Hans Zimmer has described his work on Neill Blomkamp’s latest as “The Chappie Elektrik Synthphonia.” That should tell you everything you need to know about the score, which is nothing organic. Like Chappie himself, the sounds are synthetic, and kind of grimy like the slums in Johannesburg, especially the hard-hitting numbers that reflect the more violent parts of the movie. But, there are also subdued moments that aren’t so breakneck like in A Machine That Thinks and Feels and Firmware Update, designed to replicate the childlike wonder that Chappie experiences. This Zimmer score is not like most of his other, more traditional, scores. The pulsating sounds could sound like a mess to some. But, I think it is another strong entry into Zimmer’s discography.
Vow for Revenge
Brian Tyler wastes no time in establishing from the get-go that Furious 7 is going to be a tale of vengeance. This track feels like a cold dish of revenge, establishing Statham’s Deckard quickly as a badass. If that doesn’t do it, it segues nicely into Juicy J’s Payback. From here, we’re on a collision course between Dom’s crew and Deckard.
Furious 7 (theme)
Though Fast Five is the high point of the series, take a look at Fast & Furious 2009 and the groundwork for what it is now can be seen, evolving from a small scope into a full-blown global one. The score changes with the transition in the series as well, big and robust with a ton of edge still. Though a small observation, I think it is no coincidence that in most of the best movies of the franchise (F5, F7, some actually love TD), almost all have been scored by Brian Tyler (3, 4, 5, 7), who has a knack for blending electric sounds with classical instruments.
See You Again (movie version)
And now, the one-two combo that left more than a few eyes misty at the end. The piano just sets things up beautifully—you know it’s coming—leading up to the collaboration and emotionally resonant ending performed by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. I opted with the film version, not that the real version isn’t amazing, but there’s something perfect about the lyrics in the film version that the radio version almost has, but doesn’t quite have. It truly is For Paul.
Photo credits come from vibe.com, allmusic.com, disney.wikia.com, and uaudio.com.
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