Collaboration: Film Tracks

Musical MarchIt’s the final week for this set of collaborations and we’re looking at our favourite blockbuster hits as we take things to the big screen.

Music and film work hand in hand, whether they be scores composed for a soundtrack or songs performed by an artist. It can make a huge difference to the atmosphere of a scene, and is also an excellent form of advertising if the tracks are released to radio weeks/months before the film premieres.

With the musical live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast now out in cinemas, I thought this would be a great way to end off my month of music collabs with the girls. We’ve tried to cover as much as we can here, from Disney and chart hits to instrumentals and old classics so expect a nice variety of song choices down below.

A Writer in Sight

IMG_7306Although I’ve spent a lot of time studying film and working on media projects in the past, I don’t often sit down and watch a movie out of choice. Funnily enough, I haven’t  actually watched any of the movies that this week’s songs were made for, but I don’t think that’s too important. These three tracks are monumental in their own right – they’re iconic. I’d be very surprised if someone hadn’t heard most of these songs, if not all of them.

Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey) – Diamonds Are Forever

A Writer In Sight (3)The James Bond franchise is known for it’s popular theme songs performed by artists known around the world, from Adele to Paul McCartney, but there’s one track in particular that stands out above the rest – Diamonds Are Forever. 

The second of three appearances for Dame Shirley Bassey on the Bond soundtrack, this track exudes sex and glamour thanks to its sultry, hypnotic delivery. While the drama of the music captures the action elements of the franchise perfectly, the lyrics do a great job of conjuring up the image of a stereotypical Bond girl. It’s complimented nicely by an aggressive kick to Bassey’s voice which drives the song to a whole new level.

Diamonds Are Forever is a timeless classic that, while a product of its time, still sounds relevant in the twenty-first century. It’s powerful without trying too hard and it sets up a wonderful atmosphere for the feature film which is ultimately what a theme song should do. Whether or not you consider the track to be the best the franchise has to offer, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t know it.

Young and Beautiful (Lana Del Rey) – The Great Gatsby

A Writer In Sight (2)Lana Del Rey has produced several movie theme songs in recent years, including a haunting rendition of Once Upon A Dream for 2014 film ‘Maleficent’, but it was the track that she recorded for ‘The Great Gatsby’ that really blew me away.

Swaying over an orchestra, she sings about the uncertainty of love without her youth and looks in a way that’s almost romantic. It’s a perfect fit for the characters that F. Scott Fitzgerald brought to life in the original novel. What’s more, Lana is a master at creating atmospheric music and Young and Beautiful manages to evoke the wonder of the 1920s with a mystical quality that builds in her unique voice. It’s amazing how often she can create music that seems downbeat and yet still work it into something incredible every time.

Listen (Beyoncé) – Dreamgirls

A Writer In Sight (1)It was difficult choosing between this or I Am Telling You I’m Not Going by Jennifer Hudson – also from ‘Dreamgirls’ – as my final film track, but Queen B won it in the end because the song was an original creation for the movie. It’s one of the few new tracks that wasn’t in the stage production that this film is based off of, but it fits perfectly in the soundtrack thanks to Beyoncé’s outstanding delivery.

Listen sees the R&B superstar at her best with its soaring choruses and epic climax. It’s a powerful song – both vocally and lyrically – with more passion than you’d find in most pop music performances these days. It can be difficult not to get invested in the musical narrative if you’ve ever felt held-back or put-down for your dreams, and when that happens the song becomes so much more intense. No matter how good or bad a singer you are, it can feel extremely cathartic to just belt this track out.

‘Big’ songs work well when they’re done right, and that’s what Listen achieves. I can’t think of any other film tracks that reach the dizzy heights of this song, and I can only assume that the film is as empowering and intense as the atmosphere this creates. From what I understand about ‘Dreamgirls’, it is.

Give It Some Geek

SarahThis is my time to shine! Film soundtracks usually rate high on my list of favourite songs because they are normally written with the intention of provoking emotion and forming a narrative. I have plenty of favourites, and had I been able to extend this to include gaming soundtracks, I think my head might have exploded. There’s so much great music being used with other media these days. So on that note, here we go.

Remember Me This Way (Faith Hill) – Casper the Friendly Ghost

Give It Some Geek (3)Lots of love for this little number, and it’s seriously underappreciated. I think anyone who grew up in the 90s heard this song, even if they didn’t realise. It plays in the background as Kat (played by Christina Ricci) and a human version of Casper dance together at Halloween.

Its lyrics focus on the theme of friendship and although someone may not be able to stick around forever, or circumstances may change – they may change – they still want the best for their friends and hope that life will treat them kindly. “Every now and then we find a special friend who understands it all” – every time I hear it, my mind is cast back to old friends and I find myself hoping they are okay too. It’s a hard-hitter and ridiculously relatable. It’s a slow-paced ballad that builds in volume, overlaid with Hill’s smooth singing voice. It really drops you back into the late 80s, early 90s era.

Main Theme (Joe Hisaishi) – Howl’s Moving Castle

Give It Some Geek (2)A completely instrumental piece, the main theme from Howl’s Moving Castle is both fast and slow, piano and orchestral. It’s just over five minutes long and works particularly well as a setup for the film. It uses chords and rhythms that many can associate with the wonders of France or other richly cultured European countries where Howl’s Moving Castle is supposedly set. The song runs from a beautiful waltz in ¾ time into something sinister and foreboding, jumping into something bouncy and playful then elegant one after the next.

Well, that’s my music nerdiness spilling out. It’s simply a stunning piece with or without the film to back it up. There’s a subtleness to the piano playing that sends shivers up my spine, particularly at the beginning before the orchestra breaks into the ¾ tempo. I could listen to it on repeat for hours.

Whatever You Imagine (Wendy Moton) – The Pagemaster

Give It Some Geek (1)My. Favourite. Song. Ever.

It seems like such a random song to stick on a pedestal and sing the praises of, but Whatever You Imagine is honestly the song that inspired my entire writing career. I wouldn’t have gone to university to do a writing degree, I wouldn’t have posted anything online, never had any confidence and honestly, I don’t think I would have ever taken the time to write what I wanted. The first story I ever wrote was directly inspired by Whatever You Imagine and its origin film, The Pagemaster.

Before I even saw the film, I heard Whatever You Imagine on the promotional trailers. It’s such an awe-inspiring and imagination provoking song. It’s slow, sang in beautiful and silky smooth tones, and the instrumental at the very beginning drops you straight into an emotional depth of a fantasy realm.

Composition aside, hearing the lyrics of Whatever You Imagine has brought me comfort a many times. It’s pretty much my life’s mantra and when I first heard it at six years old, it sent ideas soaring. Don’t be afraid. The world is vast but that means there’s so much to see. Believe in yourself and what you imagine. One idea can change your world or even the real world. It’s the perfect song for anyone who loves creativity. “There are dreams to awaken. Roads to be taken. Follow them and they will set you free.”

Again, it has that cheesy late 80s, early 90s feel to it and uses builds that are reminiscent of epic quest films. As soon as it breaks into the chorus there’s an explosion of promise and hope. Hats off to Moton as well. She has superb vocals; a brilliant range and astounding control over them.

“I promise you, whatever you imagine can come true.”

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Holly Quills and Ivy

HollyHey everyone! This week I’ve been asked to focus on Disney to find me three favourite songs from films! Yay! Disney is one of my favourite things in the world (which is probably why this job was given to me) and I could talk about it all day. Saying that, having to try and choose only three songs out of their huge musical back-catalogue was insanely difficult, but I somehow managed to whittle it down. So here are my top picks for the best Disney songs.

I Won’t Say I’m In Love (Susan Egan) – Hercules

Holly Quills and Ivy (3)If you ask me to sing a Disney song then this is the one that will come to my head first. What makes this one of my top picks is that it is so unlike any other Disney song because it is more anti-love than anything else. Megara is trying to convince herself that she won’t fall in love because she knows better than to, and her words are just her trying to convince herself of that even though she ultimately fails. Accompanied by the amazing chorus of the Muses, it becomes a great standpoint song foe anyone trying to figure out their feelings with someone. Also, to top it all off, there is so much sass in the song it’s incredible!

How Far I’ll Go (Auli’i Cravalho) – Moana

Holly Quills and Ivy (2)If you haven’t heard this song yet, then you must have been living under a rock! How Far I’ll Go is the latest main song from the newest Disney film ‘Moana’. It was even nominated for an Oscar! It’s that good! How could it not be on my list?! The lyrics are filled with empowerment, telling us to seek out our dreams and not to be afraid of them. If you’re not belting out this song after the third listen, then I’m sorry we cannot be friends. It’s such an iconic song and it will be remembered for generations to come.

I See The Light (Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi) – Tangled

Holly Quills and Ivy (1)Of course, I need a love song on this list. I mean its Disney for crying out loud, its known for its love songs. This has to be one of my all-time favourite Disney songs, for so many reasons; the simple yet beautiful music, the lyrics narrating how far the characters have come from the start of the journey and to them falling in love. This duet works so perfectly as Mandy Moore’s and Zachary Levi’s voice match and harmonize very well. It is a great example of Disney at its finest.

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