Download the score to any number of recent movies, and you may hear some familiar sounds coming through your speakers. And no, we’re not just talking about the many pop remixes that populated the “Pitch Perfect” soundtrack. More and more, popular, contemporary musicians are moving into John Williams’s territory, injecting films with a distinctly modern, trendy flare. Skrillex is the latest example, as he will soon lend his talents to the score of Harmony Korine’s new flick “Spring Breakers.” In praise of such artists for keeping film on the cutting–edge, Street has compiled a list of some of the coolest entertainers currently bringing their music to the multiplex.
Johnny Greenwood – “There Will Be Blood”
The Radiohead guitarist set a sneakily foreboding tone to Paul Thomas Anderson’s ruthless 2007 film. Greenwood repurposed bits of his own music from previous orchestral pieces, warping and twisting classical sounds into a score that is at times strikingly gorgeous, at others nails–on–a–chalkboard discomfiting. A true master in the combination and rearrangement of modern sounds and period tracks, Greenwood can also be heard on the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film, “The Master.”
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – “The Social Network,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails fame, partnered with Ross, a composer/producer, to turn what could have been a staid origin story about a computer nerd into a sexy, sinister saga. Their dark, ambient score illuminated the underlying battle between Zuckerberg’s baser instincts toward greed and corruption and his lighter, more compassionate aspects. Mythic stuff, to be sure, and yet the sci–fi blasts laid on deep, consistent beats lent the tracks an air of modernity, grounding the film in the present. The two made magic happen twice with Fincher’s next project, the “Dragon Tattoo” adaptation. Their icy, tinkling tracks helped construct the film’s world of constant snowfall and bleak vistas, chilly winter nights and chillier serial killers lying in wait. And everybody should listen to Trent Reznor and Karen O.’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” a haunting, screeching version that backed the opening credits and set an ominous tone. Did Fincher think he was making a Bond film or something?
Daft Punk – “Tron: Legacy”
This electronic duo set a vivid score for the “Tron” remake, effectively matching the film’s over–the–top CGI effects. The music’s highs and lows are so grandiose and bombastic that they nearly sound like a Hans Zimmer parody. In fact, it is quite reminiscent of a video game score, as one is given the distinct impression of moving through various battles and triumphs as the tracks progress — a fitting sound for such a richly visual film.
The Chemical Brothers – “Hanna”
Another electronic duo, though this one took a much subtler approach to scoring their genre–blending action flick. The score’s light, chiming notes, paired with whistling effects and cooing harmonies, provide a stripped–down arrangement, sidestepping the overblown orchestration that Daft Punk favors. Yet the twinkling music–box theme, when juxtaposed with a more sinister bassline, is evocative of the dark fairy tale tropes woven into the story. Hanna is a stunted girl who stumbles upon the modern world, and the light–and–dark dualities of each track reflect her coming–of–age struggles.