29 December 2014

Now That's What I Call Movie Music 2014

Here's a little belated Christmas present for anybody who's wondering where I've been for the last month or so. I'm still watching and writing about movies and shall endeavour to write one or two of my traditionally frantic catch-up posts in the New Year, before getting back into the usual routine. From the highs of Paddington and What We Do In The Shadows to the lows of Horrible Bosses 2 and Men, Women & Children, we've got a bit to catch up on, but that will all come in good time. For now, I've collected some musical bits and bobs from the cinema of 2014- you can find my playlist of the year in movies, after the jump...

Hope you all have Spotify!

I've largely arranged them in they order they came out (by UK release date, hence a couple of 2013 movies that slipped in at the beginning of the year) but had to open and close on a couple of tracks that summed up the year nicely. Here's some blather about what went in and why.

Opening Chords

Tegan and Sara's Everything Is Awesome is probably the best movie song that will never, ever, ever, win an Oscar for Best Original Song (surprise me!) but it's a perfect theme for a film as commercially subversive as The LEGO Movie. It's quite an earworm too, but quite a few of the parents I know are happier to hear a bit of this than the umpteenth repeat of Let It Go,

It's the second year I've compiled one of these lists, so Muppets Most Wanted's opening tribute to sequels had to go in there too. Everybody knows that the second playlist's never quite as good, but that's frankly no excuse for the way in which the film itself was overlooked. It's the year's most underrated comedy, with another blinder of a soundtrack from Bret McKenzie (whose hysterical demo for I'll Get You What You Want also made the list, if only for the tremendous video embedded above.)

Also opening the list is Hang Me, Oh Hang Me, which Oscar Isaac covers at the top and tail of the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis- if it's not new and it never gets old, it's a folk song. On top of that, it's one of a couple of great movies this year that were about making music.

The Music Business

Lenny Abrahamson's Frank was less a music biopic than an ode to unconstrained creativity, and a tragi-comic exploration of what happens when you expose that kind of boundless expression to a light harsher than cult appreciation. More importantly, many of the songs had the same "can't tell if this is rubbish" appeal as Scott Pilgrim's Sex Bob-Omb. Frank's Most Likeable Song Ever is a goody, but the Soronprfbs track that made the playlist was I Love You All, the beautiful closing song.

Along similar lines, Begin Again follows the independent production of an album by two kindred spirits who have been chewed and spit out by record companies. After a ramshackle open mic performance of A Step You Can't Take Back by Keira Knightley's Greta at the very start of the film, we get a more wonderful reprise from the POV of Mark Ruffalo's Dan, complete with a backing band that animates itself a la Bedknobs & Broomsticks.

Awesome Mix Vol. 1

And then there's Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. After putting Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man into Cap's cultural catch-up in The Winter Soldier, James Gunn had the last word in compilation soundtracks by writing a retro soundtrack into the plot of his unerringly lovely space opera, in which a cassette tape of guilty pleasures and memorable classics is space-faring scoundrel Peter Quill's last memento of his human mother.

It's led to a revival of interest in songs like Blue Suede's Hooked On A Feeling, Rupert Holmes' Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and Redbone's Come And Get Your Love- somehow it fits the intergalactic antics perfectly. The Jackson 5's I Want You Back, which closes my playlist as well as the film, is actually the first track on Awesome Mix Vol. 2, which sets Guardians of the Galaxy 2 the unenviable task of following a nigh-unimprovable jukebox selection.

"And More...!"

Even if it's tough to match Guardians' compilation, there have been other pitch perfect accompaniments to pivotal scenes, and they've been reflected on the list. Quicksilver illogically stole X-Men: Days of Future Past to the strains of Time In A Bottle; a brief entente in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was scored by The Weight by The Band, as men and monkeys restored power to an abandoned radio; and The Skeleton Twins boasted 2014's most joyous sing-along as troubled siblings Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig mimed Starship's Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.

Also worthy of mentioning is the stunning Hunger Games scene where Panem finally rose up against their oppressive government in Mockingjay Part 1's The Hanging Tree. The haunting collaboration between Jennifer Lawrence, the Lumineers and composer James Newton Howard broke into the iTunes charts and would have been a nice outside contender for Christmas number 1, and will almost certainly soundtrack the trailers for the action-packed Part 2 after its effective use here.

Not to overlook composers, I've also included Mark Mothersbaugh's epic score from 22 Jump Street (legitimately one of the most awesome action themes in modern cinema) and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' opening piece from Gone Girl (whose score is as at least beguiling as its plot.)

There are other gems from The Guest and Paddington to discover, so go and give it a listen if you haven't been listening along while you read my blatherings. 2014 was a great year for movies and the music choices more than matched up to that- I'll be posting my picks of the best and worst movies in the next couple of days, some time before the year gallops out of memory.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't listen to anything I wouldn't.

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