Soundtracks Better Than Their Films

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Soundtracks are an integral part of a film's impact. They can make a good film great and an awful film bearable. And sometimes, even with inspiring cinema, the soundtrack bests what's on the screen. 

David Gattens, Glasgow Film's Finance/Commercial Director, has created a Spotify playlist of some of his favourite Soundtracks which are better than their films and, here below, sets out how he picked the tracks.

I have a confession to make: I’m often that guy you see hanging around in a cinema screening during the end titles to read the music credits. That’s because I love movie soundtracks. Well, most of them. Obviously. You can’t love them all. For me, and this probably makes sense, most of my favourite soundtracks are the accompaniment to my favourite films. But often, on lesser films – and even on the terrible ones - it is often the music that I recall, for positive reasons, the most. This gave me the inspiration to create a Spotify playlist of the 'Soundtracks which are better than their films.' 

Making my selection turned out to be surprisingly easy. The difficulty was keeping the list down to just 50 tracks, making sure that I covered both contemporary pop/rock and orchestral work. My first rule was to exclude musicals from consideration, as their songs and music play such an essential part in the overall quality of the work. Musicals generally fail because the music isn’t up to scratch. I made an exception with the films of Prince though – I love his music, but he never did appear in anything like a decent film. The only reason that Prince’s final film, Graffiti Bridge, has not been included in this playlist is because I haven’t seen Graffiti Bridge

Then, there are the easy selections – the really bad films that happen to have great music playing alongside. Step forward quite a few Batman films, Gus Van Sant’s bizarre Psycho remake, Mission: Impossible 2, Southland Tales and Spawn – the latter featuring a highly ambitious and largely successful concept for an album. 

With more than 200 film and television composing credits listed on IMDb, Hans Zimmer can’t possibly be expected to have a perfect strike rate, but overall he seems to have selected films to showcase his work well (though he still gets a couple of mentions on the playlist). The same cannot be said for the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto however. He could easily have had three or four selections here, but then he did find himself working with Bernardo Bertolucci a lot. 

I am certainly not claiming that each of the films featured is in any way 'bad' either. I really like some of the titles featured here – I’m just suggesting that their soundtracks are better. So I agree with you, fans of Eighth Grade, Byzantium and High Fidelity – indeed, the latter pick just gave me the chance to add The Beta Band’s 'Dry The Rain' to the playlist. Further, I am not claiming that the full soundtracks of these titles featured are uniformly fantastic. Anyone who owns a copy of The Lost Boys soundtrack will have heard Roger Daltrey’s grim cover version of 'Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me' – but probably only ever the once. Similarly, the Absolute Beginners soundtrack should have had a sticker on its cover, warning that it contained the music of Eighth Wonder. 

Hopefully, there will be a few selections here that you won’t have heard before. I don’t know anyone else who has seen Steven Spielberg’s misfiring 1941 or heard its typically over-the-top score by John Williams. Most of you won’t have seen Behind Enemy Lines, let alone know of its dreadful sequels. And hopefully you’ll soon learn that Irene Cara didn’t provide the best track to Flashdance. In terms of complete works, among my personal favourites listed here are the most 1980s soundtrack ever for the most 1980s film ever: Wang Chung’s To Live and Die in L.A. (directed by William Friedkin); and Wojciech Kilar’s glorious score to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which manages to chew up as much scenery as its actors. 

In the end, this is purely a personal selection. So I do offer my apologies for any upset caused if I happen to have selected your favourite film(s) for this playlist. Perhaps we can at least agree that the music’s good. Enjoy!

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