The Top 10 Rock-Musician Film Scores
David Fincher's Facebook creation tale The Social Network has been the No. 1 film in America the past two weekends, and no doubt it will continue that streak this weekend, barring an assault by Jackass 3-D which comes out today.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone is already hailing Network as a generation-defining film, and we have to agree. It's about modern greed, changing social mores and the evils and ills of technology. It also features some of the best new actors the screen has seen in some time. Guys with actual longevity, it seems.
Fincher hired Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross to score the film, and the duo came through in fine form, making snaky beds of music not far removed from Reznor's latter-day NIN work, especially 1999's The Fragile. You also can't help but hear some echoes of Tangerine Dream's Risky Business score inside it. Both films were essentially about selling popularity and sex, however synthetic or twisted.
Reznor and Ross' work got us to thinking about some of the best scores created by rock musicians for films. Simon & Garfunkel's The Graduate, Isaac Hayes' Shaft score, Curtis Mayfield's Superfly work, Bob Dylan pulling double duty on Pat Garret & Billy The Kid, and even Johnny Cash writing tracks for the little-remembered Little Fauss & Big Halsey come to mind. Aimee Mann absolutely knocked her Magnolia soundtrack out of the park.
Plenty of musicians have turned into expert, godhead film composers - Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman, for instance. The Devo and Oingo Boingo artists are now looked at as legends in the business for the work for Wes Anderson and Tim Burton respectively.
In the next year we can expect scores from Daft Punk, who are doing work for Tron: Legacy (naturally), Phoenix is working on music for a Sofia Coppola picture and the Chemical Brothers are twiddling knobs for Hanna, a spy flick starring Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett.
But it's the mostly instrumental scores, where artists can't hide behind lyrics and potential singles, that are the most haunting to Rocks Off. One of our favorite albums of 2010 has been Mastodon's score for the little-seen Jonah Hex. It's reminiscent of Dylan Carlson's band Earth in places, and also acts as a fine epilogue for Mastodon's last album Crack the Skye.
We made a list of some of our favorite rock musician-assisted instrumental scores, the ones we can't stop spinning long after we stop watching the movies that spawned them. No doubt we have left a few off, so feel free to tell us your favorites in the comments section.
9. Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood:
8. Air, The Virgin Suicides:
7. Jon Brion, I Heart Huckabees:
6. Kronos Quartet, Requiem For A Dream:
5. Neil Young, Dead Man:
4. Joe Strummer, Walker:
3. Karen O & the Kids, Where The Wild Things Are:
2. Thomas Bangalter, Irreversible:
1. Peter Gabriel, Passion: Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ:
Yo La Tengo, Adventureland
Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Daniel Lanois, Sling Blade
Josh Homme & Nick Oliveri, The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys
Billy Corgan, Ransom, Stigmata, and Spun
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.