Music in media doesn’t get the attention it deserves because it usually gets drowned out by CGI or action-heavy set pieces. Most film buffs can name their favorite directors without even thinking about it, but can they name the composer who made Jaws truly scary? Do they remember the brilliant mind behind the chilling music of Psycho? Would a video game like Metal Gear Solid 2 be the same without the talents of Harry Gregson Williams? Would I have discovered an anime called Macross Plus without the music of Yoko Kanno?
The power of music has shaped my opinion on many films, since I saw Star Wars for the first time at the age of 8. It seems like the power of music has been lost in recent films, while games and anime have made it a priority. The new Ghostbusters was infamous for that awful cover of the original theme song, while the music of Destiny was one of its only strong points. I was under the impression that soundtracks weren’t that old, but they actually have a long history.
A Little History Lesson
The first commercially issued soundtrack was from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Those who are in their 20s or 30s should remember when Titanic released and Celine Dion was all over the radio. However, the entire soundtrack was one of the most popular of all time back in the '90s. I’ve seen several different sales numbers for the album that are all in the millions.
Around the same time, Japan was starting to appreciate the musical pillar that held up some of their classic video games like the original Dragon Quest. In 1991, conductors would preside over the first public performance of gaming music in Japan. The first Final Fantasy concert wouldn’t hit the USA until 2004. Halo 4 was such a big hit that the soundtrack sold very well in stores.
On the other hand, anime music hasn’t put up big sales numbers outside of Japan, though they might sell better if consumers recognized the talents behind these emotional melodies that drive stories. Hans Zimmer produced my favorite anime soundtrack for a series called Blood+. He was also responsible for The Dark Knight score. What a shock. People forget that these musical pieces are just as important as the actors in any given scene and they help us recall those great moments in cinema.
Do you remember the first time that you saw dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? How about the moment Luke’s uncle and aunt were killed in the original Star Wars? Metal Gear Solid 4 and the microwave scene is legendary, thanks to music that pushes your emotional buttons. I believe that these soundtracks help us retain our memory and the emotions we feel when we see something so dramatic on screen. Blood+ is a perfect example of this, thanks to its ability to connect drama and music together. The whole scene is just about the return of a main character and her growth as well.
Music Shapes My Unpopular Opinions
Most of the films I like have a stellar soundtrack that uplifts the story out of mediocrity. However, I know that a lot of my opinions are unpopular. I actually like a lot of the “rotten” movies that get crucified on Rotten Tomatoes. King Arthur is a good example with a 31 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Hans Zimmer’s score is the centerpiece of that movie. Composer Charlie Clouser mixed sounds and music to make Saw even more unnerving. That film only managed a 48 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Now that you can see my strange opinions, I can get into my most controversial one. Take the most recent Marvel feature and its DC counterpart. I actually liked Batman v Superman more because of the music. Captain America: Civil War on the other hand, just didn’t grab me in the same way and it seemed like a recycled score from other Marvel films. Wonder Woman’s theme music is a great example of emotional influence. I still remember how excited everyone was when she came on screen. Unfortunately, a lot of music doesn’t have the impact that it once did.
The Fall Of Music
The Ghostbusters trailer was bad enough, but the music managed to be even worse. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a mediocre film that utilized music that wasn't memorable at all. In fact, I believe that the prequels did a better job on that front. I’ve watched some decent films in the last month or so, but I can’t recall a single decent theme. Was I not paying attention? Does music not have the power it once did? Or am I just not caring as much as I used to? I can’t blame it on one particular genre, since I’ve seen horror, action and a terrible comedy. Maybe my expectations are too high. The last movie to leave an impression on me was Predator, but I’ve seen that a hundred times already. Usually, horror is a genre I can depend on for cool music that I’ll remember long after I’m finished watching it. Hellraiser still has one of the most chilling themes in existence. I just miss those amazing musical notes that evoke strong emotions and managed to influence my opinions. Is music not as important anymore?