With ‘A Star Is Born’ about to hit the big screen, let’s take a moment to look back on some of this year’s best soundtracks so far (before we’re all swallowed up by Gaga and Cooper’s, which is set to change karaoke duets forever).
Those lucky enough to have caught this at the cinema will know how stunning the score was. Marcin Masecki arranged melodies that blended elements of traditional Polish folk music and jazz, a sound few people would have heard before. One song, Dwa Serduszka (Two Hearts), gets repeated throughout, but is delivered uniquely every time, reflecting on both the emotional state of the two lovers and also the time period its played in – Dwa Serduszka almost becomes a character itself and it’s impossible to think of Cold War without it.
Here you can see a traditional version of the Polish folk song next to one of Cold War’s many reworks of the classic which is played in the films brilliant trailer.
Perhaps I’m still caught up in the Maniac hype after finishing it yesterday in one sitting or maybe it really is a great soundtrack. The story and direction are imaginative and abstract while being backed up by both Dan Romer’s original soundtrack which can be light and fantastical at one moment and haunting the next. On top of this, there’s a bunch of superbly diverse throwbacks ranging from Daryl Hall & John Oats “Out of Touch” to Geto Boys “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”. I don’t think this show or soundtrack will be forgotten anytime soon.
Mandy is a crazy film. I don’t want to give anything else away as I think it’s best viewed without seeing the trailer and knowing as little about it as possible. I have no idea if I liked it, but I was totally entertained throughout and that’s probably because of the enthralling soundtrack.
Although it was a film full of dramatic and shocking moments, the biggest surprise I got was during the credits when the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s name popped up. Initially knowing his music from films such as Sicario, Arrival and The Theory of Everything, the last thing you would expect is for him to create the score for an 80’s inspired violent synth pulp mess with the occasional shred of distorted guitar and the feeling of being knocked over by a wall of noise. This soundtrack was especially painful to listen to in retrospect of knowing it was Jóhannsson who crafted it. It highlights his enormous versatility and I found it difficult not to imagine all the incredible soundtracks that were to come.
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
Straight off the back of creating the gorgeous soundtrack for Phantom Thread and working with Paul Thomas Anderson, Jonny Greenwood turned his attention to another great auteur by collaborating with Lynne Ramsey. This may not be an easy or accessible listen for a popular audience but it’s the perfect fit to the chaotic nature of YWNRH. The mix of Joaquin Phoenix giving one of his career’s best performances and Lynne Ramsay’s piercing, hypnotic direction made this the kind of film you don’t watch, you experience.
The process behind the soundtrack is also worth noting. Greenwood would send Ramsey long pieces of music, sometimes 30 minutes long and Ramsay would take small sections from it and edit to the music. Typically, the composer would cut the music for the edit – not the other way around – which is what makes this so incredible.
Ramsay told Sound and Vision:
“Every time we got a piece of music in the cutting room it was like a birthday,”
“You think you know where [the music is] going to go and then it completely implodes and goes somewhere else. It’s got all these elements that are unexpected. It’s completely uplifting at times and it’s complete disorientating. It’s just amazing.”
Most of this soundtrack is just straight up fun and has the ability to liven up any scenario. Walking to the corner shop to get some milk? Put this on and you’ll feel like a 70’s John Travolta about to hit the disco to bust a new drug cartel. Or maybe that’s just me.