Soundtracks: More Than Background Music

Sophie Hicks stands up for the importance of soundtracks and why they deserve the same amount of respect as conventional records...

Sophie Hicks
27th November 2017
Image: Flickr

Film soundtracks don’t get enough credit. Just as mainstream albums do, film soundtracks convey a story. It revolves around an entire film and sets the tone. The dynamics of a film pivot around the soundtrack and create the pace and atmosphere. Can you imagine a film without a soundtrack?

I don’t think I can write about film soundtracks without mentioning the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. These soundtracks represent the playful nature of the 80s and play a backstory in the film; music from Peter Quill’s home pre-space. This makes it nostalgic, not only for those listening, but also gives sentiment in terms of the film. It includes classics such as ‘I Want You Back’ by the Jackson 5 and ‘Moonage Daydream’ by David Bowie. The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack is particularly special because it actually topped the UK charts. A rare soundtrack was taken seriously, seen as an actual album rather than just background noise in a film.

Another great example is from Baby Driver. Edgar Wright was actually first inspired to make the film because of a song, ‘Bellbottoms’ by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, imagining a car chase. This song is then the initial opening song, and the whole film was imagined from the soundtrack. Baby Driver is particularly amazing because the entire film is in-sync with the music - every turn of the wheel, every step, every conversation. The soundtrack ranges from slow-pace songs like ‘Easy’ by Commodores, to high-pace car chase music such as ‘Neat Neat Neat’ by The Damned.There’s a song for everyone in this soundtrack due to the diversity!

A film score that can’t go unrecognised is the entirety of the Lord of The Rings works. The Oscar-Winning Best Original Score by Howard Shore is truly a masterpiece. The film score completely embodies Middle-Earth, with beautiful symphonies of violins in ‘The Fellowship’, and flutes in ‘The Shire’, creating the atmosphere for the beautiful scenery. This score can either be really relaxing or extremely intense, and that’s what makes it great. It embodies the conflict and resolution of the trilogy throughout each film, creating happiness or sorrow. A lot of the raw emotion comes from the score, and I feel like that’s why it’s important as a film soundtrack. It’s a prime example of a film where you don’t need lyrics, only a symphony to send you into tears.

the soundtrack is itself part of the storyline, an art form...

Without soundtracks, films would lose a lot of their soul. Music is in almost every scene to convey an emotion and set a tone. A lot of film soundtracks get pushed to the side as people view them as background music and choose to focus on the storyline. However, the soundtrack is itself part of the storyline, an art form, and should be treated with the same amount of respect as any other album.

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AUTHOR: Sophie Hicks
Former TV Sub-Editor for The Courier and BA Media Communication and Cultural Studies graduate

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