The Essential 10: Movie Soundtracks

Posted on March 27th, 2014 in Recent posts by .

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Words Simon Broughton, Jo Frost, Alexandra Petropoulos

As our cover star Julie Fowlis sings on Brave, the 2012 Disney/Pixar film set in the Scottish Highlands, we thought we’d pick ten more of our favourite soundtracks.

Chico & Rita (Sony Music, 2011)
Many soundtracks don’t stand up away from their films, but 2010’s Chico & Rita – an Oscar-nominated animated feature about a pianist and singer in 1940s and 50s Havana & New York – evokes that golden age of big band Latin jazz. Composed and arranged by Bebo Valdés, and featuring his daughter Idania singing Rita, the film also includes Estrella Morente singing ‘Lily’. SB

City of God (Warner, 2003)
The 2002 Brazilian film Cidade de Deus is most famous for bringing the actor and singer Seu Jorge to international attention, though he barely features on the soundtrack. Set in Rio’s favelas in the 60s and 70s, the soundtrack features samba (including veteran singer Cartola), funk-samba (including Raul Seixas), plus harder-edged music by Antonio Pinto and Ed Córtes. SB

Cuban Fury (Decca, 2014)
English funny man of Shaun of the Dead fame, Nick Frost, returns with his latest movie about an out-of-shape salsa dancer. As expected, the film’s soundtrack is chock full of Latin fire and tracks from the greats including Tito Puente, Oscar D’Leon and Los Van Van. Need inspiration to shuffle those feet and get out on the dance floor? Look no further. AP

Frida (Decca, 2003)
The soundtrack for 2002’s surreal biopic about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo won an Oscar. It features original music by Elliot Goldenthal and lots of traditional Mexican music, but the stand-out musical moments in the film come from Lila Downs and the extraordinary Chavela Vargas, aged 83, singing ‘La Llorona’. She’s alleged to have had an affair with Kahlo in her youth. SB

Inside Llewyn Davis (Nonesuch, 2013)
Inspired by Greenwich Village’s New York folk scene of the 60s, the latest Coen Brothers movie is a slow yet atmospheric tale of Llewyn Davis and his checkered singing career. The highpoint of the film is certainly the soundtrack, produced by T-Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford, and features singing from the likes of actors Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, plus The Punch Brothers. JF

Monsoon Wedding (Warner, 2001)
A glorious film depicting a typical, colourful, music-laden Punjabi Hindu wedding. Directed by Mira Nair, with music composed by Canadian Mychael Danna (of The Life of Pi fame). Highlights include the qawwali star Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing ‘Allah Hoo’, playback singer Mohammed Rafi, Delhi duo Midival Punditz, and Bollywood star Sukhwinder Singh. A musical based on the film is due to open on Broadway this year. JF

The Motorcycle Diaries (Deutsche Grammophon, 2004)
Argentinian musician and composer Gustavo Santaolalla wrote this soundtrack to Walter Salles’ biopic on Che Guevara, starring Gael García Bernal. From the man also behind the music for Babel and Brokeback Mountain, this is a wonderful album of the Latin American sounds you’d expect with the beautiful ambient atmosphere for which Santaolalla has made his name. AP

O Brother Where Art Thou? (Universal, 2000)
The Coen brothers’ oddball take on Homer’s Odyssey introduced a whole new generation to old fashioned Americana – from blues and work songs to gospel and bluegrass. With a soundtrack just as good as the film, O Brother… features some of Americana’s biggest names, including the man with a voice as pretty as George Clooney’s face, Dan Tyminski; Alison Krauss and Tim O’Brien. AP

Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ (Real World, 1989)
A firm favourite here at Songlines HQ. Produced by Peter Gabriel as the soundtrack to Scorsese’s 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ, it was released as a proper, full-length album and went on to win a Grammy. Gabriel has said it was ‘one of the most important records’ he has worked on. Unsurprising, given the impressive list of artists which includes Hossam Ramzy, Youssou N’Dour, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Baaba Maal and Kudsi Erguner on the mournful Turkish ney. JF

Slumdog Millionaire (Interscope, 2008)
Though he may be one of the most prolific film composers in the world, it was his soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s colourful Indian epic that made AR Rahman a household name in the West. Having swept the awards in 2008 – including two Grammys, two Oscars, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA – the soundtrack stands up well on its own as a mix of the sounds of modern India, and includes the international hit, ‘Jai Ho’. AP

 

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