Soundtracks play large part in film magic

By Sarah Contreras

I’ve been watching quite a lot of movies lately.

This really should come as no surprise–pop culture is sort of my “thing,” so movies, music and literature are all equal in my esteem. Due to this need to absorb all things entertainment, I guess I already watch more movies than the average 25-year-old.

However, the past few weeks have been different. Oscar season is upon us. Not only am I prepping for my own Oscar party, but I am also writing a weekly column reviewing the nominated films.

There are nine Best Picture nominees alone–that is a lot of viewing hours.

So yes, I’m watching a ton of movies. Why am I talking about it here, on my music blog? I’m writing about movies because of their wonderful direct connection with music.

A film is not a film without a soundtrack. Whether it is minimal, as in the exquisite “Capote,” or rollicking like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” it is the music that sets the tone for a film. “Jaws” wouldn’t be as terrifying a movie without those two ominous notes (buh dum…buh dum), and “Garden State” would’ve annoyed most people without the perfectly placed indie songs.

Movies and music: Kissing cousins.

One of my favorite things about movie music is when a movie introduces you to a great song. You hear it in a scene and think, “Who is that? I like this song!”

When this happens to me, the song tends to get stuck in my head for days and days. For example, when I was 13, I heard an adorable song in a made-for-TV Disney movie. I could not rest until I found out who the band was.

(For the record: the movie was “Motocrossed” and the song was The Juliana Theory’s “Top of The World (To The Simple Two).”)

That still happens to me, though now that I have money and easy internet access, I don’t have to agonize over band names and song titles. Sometimes I even begin to obsess with a soundtrack before I have seen the movie.

I love hearing how songs are used in scenes and how they emotionally affect the viewer. It’s delicate work, song placement is, and I can’t help but applaud when soundtracks are done right.

And so, I’ve compiled a playlist of a few of my favorite movie songs. I either already knew them before they were in a film, or I came to love them because of a soundtrack–it doesn’t really matter. They are all special to me, especially because I loved every movie they were in.

Listen to my playlist here:

What movie songs are your favorites?

Bonus: Because Spotify doesn’t have the song, here is a link to perhaps the most memorable movie song in the history of the ’80s (and possibly ever – “Say Anything” for the win!):