At one point in time, I had over 300 CDs in my collection and the vast majority of them were film scores. There’s something about a good film score that ultimately separates the genre from the likes of Rock, Hip-Hop, Pop, and even classical. I believe it is because a film score is produced to emphasise a moment in a film. Film scores are there to make you feel, to evoke a particular emotion; fear, compassion, angst, joy, and so forth. One could argue that all music respectively will evoke some emotion from you, and I wouldn’t argue against that, but what I would argue is that film scores do it better than any other genre.
My favourite type of film scores are ones that help you focus and think more clearly. Quite often when I need to focus so, I can complete some writing, or perhaps even layout one of these articles. I’ll select one of the soundtracks from my vast iTunes library, and then I’ll head into deep [mind] space and search for the answers to my current problems.
Each score will have a direct link to Amazon [UK/US] where you can purchase the soundtrack. As I’m a stickler for vinyl records, I would recommend buying any one of these soundtracks on vinyl over any other medium.
1. Interstellar. One of 2014’s most thought-provoking blockbusters. There should be no doubt that a film that involves interstellar travel and the theory of relativity would not include a variety of tracks that are ideal for intellectual thinking. The Interstellar score is the start of a recurring theme throughout this list, that theme being the dynamic duo of Nolan & Zimmer.
2. The Martian. The film has only been out for a few days, yet it’s already making its mark at the box office and with the critic’s scoreboard. The film revolves around an astronaut who is stuck on Mars with limited supplies, Harry Gregson-Williams is at the helm of this ship and has done an incredible job at translating the problem-solving nature of the film into the score.
3. The Dark Knight. To this day, the 2008 Batman film is regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever made. Grounded in reality instead of comic book fantasy the film paved a new path for a style of filmmaking. The film’s complex structure and investigative nature provide some great backing music for moments of clarity.
4. Oblivion. Films that revolve in or around space tend to be great subjects to find thought-helping scores. The lead character is usually a scientist or astronaut, the character usually has higher intellect than most, and the technology is far beyond ours; it’s a perfect match.
5. Tron Legacy. Not all tracks from films set in space need to be upbeat and fast as the internal beeping of a computer. This track from Tron keeps the synthetic sound of the digital world but also bears a symphonic film score structure.
6.Inception. As the premise of the entire film is based on thinking and solving problems in this world and the next, it’s a given that Inception would have some great tracks on the score.
7. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This soundtrack solely made it into the list because of a few songs. I don’t think it’s the strongest soundtrack out of the franchise (Transformers takes that title). What this soundtrack has over the other films are many nifty cues that are perfect for shutting the outside world and shifting your brain into overdrive. As Steve Jablonsky worked under Harry Gregson-Williams, there’s no doubt that his work is going to be stellar.
8. The Social Network. People were not too sure what to expect when the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor and producer/programmer of NIN, Atticus Ross were announced to score the feature film about Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire. However, the result was a gloriously dark and ambient score that rocked the awards circuit. The film revolves around a self-made tech billionaire; you can expect some great thinking tracks.
9. Gone Girl. The duo of Reznor and Ross has proven to be a great mixture as they have since collaborated two more times, again both for David Fincher. Gone Girl is a film that focuses on the disappearance of Amy Dunne. There’s conspiracies, murder, and a police investigation. You can expect some great tracks from this score.
10. A Beautiful Mind. Earlier this year we lost one of the most renowned film composers of our time; James Horner. Known for great classics such as Braveheart, Titanic and more recently Avatar. In 2001, Horner composed music for Ron Howard’s film A Beautiful Mind. A film about famed mathematician John Nash. It is said; Nash’ work has provided insight into the factors that govern chance and decision-making inside complex systems found in daily life. It is only fitting that the score is filled with pieces of great music to accompany moments of thinking.
If you have any scores that you think are great to listen to when you need to focus, leave them in the comment section below.