For as long as I can remember, I have been a fanatic for instrumental music. As a result, much of my music library (with the exception of every U2 album ever made) has consisted of the soundtracks to various movies and video games. By listening to these, I have not only fed my love of instrumental music, but also come to appreciate the significant role music plays in making a great movie/video game what it is. With this, I decided to make a quick list of my top 5 favorite soundtracks. Some of these are not movie or video game specific, but rather cover an entire game series or composer. Here we go!
NUMBER 5: STAR TREK (MICHAEL GIACCHINO)
No, I am not choosing this just because I am a huge fan girl of Star Trek, nor because I adored this movie. I chose this soundtrack because as a collection of instrumental music it is simply awesome. As a movie score, it so effectively captured the emotions and tones of the film that all you have to do it listen to it and have the movie play over again in your mind. What is most unique about it, however, is that unlike every other Star Trek film score, this one makes very little use of the actual Star Trek theme (we don't hear it until the end credits), instead creating an all-new, unique feel for an all-new, unique Star Trek film.
NUMBER 4: SPIRITED AWAY (JOE HISAISHI)
I think everyone will agree that Miyazaki's Spirited Away was an awesome film, and so was its soundtrack. It so perfectly complimented and accentuated the tone and visuals of the film that I can't imagine it being the same without it. Movie aside, the music is masterfully arranged and executed; a compelling mixture of full orchestra and piano, this soundtrack will spirit you away for sure.
NUMBER 3: SHERLOCK HOLMES (HANS ZIMMER)
I know this movie just came out less than a month ago, but never have I gone and seen a movie on release day then immediately gone home and pre-ordered the soundtrack. While the movie was very entertaining, the soundtrack made it for me. I was honestly more taken with the music than the movie itself. I have always been a big fan of Hans Zimmer (he composed the music for The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Gladiator, and the Lion King among MANY others), and he blew me away with this soundtrack. It has a completely unique sound compared to his other works, masterfully utilizing period instruments to create an authentic feel for the setting of Sherlock Holmes. The mix of old and new makes this soundtrack dynamic, fun, and a must-hear. It is, my dear Watson, a masterpiece!
NUMBER 2: THE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS - 40 YEARS OF FILM MUSIC (JOHN WILLIAMS)
Simply put, John Williams is the sci-fi/fantasy/adventure movie music God. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park, Superman, need I say more? I couldn't possibly pick just one of these movie's scores and say it was my favorite. They are all captivating, exciting, memorable, and have come to define the very tone and feel of these classic movies. The scores of John Williams add a special something to the heart and soul of their movies, and are masterful accomplishments of musical excellence in and of themselves. This 4 disc compilation is a must-have for anyone who enjoys are appreciates instrumental music.
NUMBER 1: DISTANT WORLDS - MUSIC FROM FINAL FANTASY (NOBUO UEMATSU)
Yes, I am a fan girl of Final Fantasy, but that has nothing to do with my saying that Nobuo Uematsu has, in my opinion, composed some of the most beautiful and compelling music of our generation with his work in the Final Fantasy series. Most people will know him for his work on Final Fantasy VII (and rightfully so, the soundtrack for that game was AWESOME), but I have listened to his work on all of the Final Fantasy games and they are all amazing in their own right. Each game's score has its own personality and unique feel, which in turn adds to the spirit of each game. Games aside, the music itself is simply beautiful. It will stir in you every emotion, from sadness (in a good way) to pure joy (try and not smile when listening to the Chocobo theme, I dare you!). Out of all of the soundtracks I have ever owned, the music of Final Fantasy by Noduo Uematsu are the ones I have listened to and love the most. Distant Worlds - Music from Final Fantasy is an excellent compilation of all the main themes and popular songs from FF VII and VIII, so I highly recommend it.
While the above selections are my current all-time favorites, I can't go without mentioning these heavy hitters.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY - HOWARD SHORE
WILLOW - JAMES HORNER
THE DARK NIGHT - HANS ZIMMER
EVERYTHING BY ALAN SILVESTRI
PRINCESS MONONOKE - JOE HISAISHI
BATMAN - DANNY ELFMAN
TITANIC - JAMES HORNER
AVATAR - JAMES HORNER
WORLD OF WARCRAFT (vanilla, BC, and WotLK) - VARIOUS COMPOSERS