Today’s Top 10 list comes from Scene-Stealers sitegoer Nick Clohessy from London. It’s a list of his personal favorite Top 10 Movie Themes and he’s gone so far as to locate each one so you can have a taste yourself. If you have a Top 10 you’d like to contribute, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s Nick:
Just to clarify, I have not included pop music that was used in films (we have a Top 10 uses of Pop Songs in Movies list right here) or songs that were sung by the characters (like “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King”). I have only included pieces that are part of the score. Before we get to number 1, here are a few honorary mentions that didn’t quite make the top 10: “E.T Main Theme” by John William, “Batman Main Theme” by Danny Elfman, “Back to the Future Main Theme” by Alan Silvestri, “Psycho Theme” by Bernard Hermann, “Lord of the Rings” score by Howard Shore, and I haven’t included Nico Rota’s score from The Godfather, since he sections of it were taken from Eduardo De Filippo’s score from “Fortunella.”
10. “He’s a Pirate” by Hans Zimmer from “The Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy (2003-2007)
I just love this piece of music. It is such a long ways away from the old image of pirate music, with sea shanties and a squeeze box. Zimmer takes us in a new direction and succeeds in splendid fashion.
9.”Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield from “The Exorcist” (1973)
There is something haunting about this piece of music. I first heard it before I saw “The Exorcist,” and even then I found it disturbing. Having seen the film, I find it impossible to hear without thinking about the silhouette of the priest standing under the street light with light pouring out of Regan’s window. An iconic image and an iconic piece of music.
8. “Hedwig’s Theme” by John Williams from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone” (2001)
This piece of music is magical! *Pauses for laughs* OK, enough crap jokes. But this music is wonderfully childlike. It captures the imagination and paints pictures more vivid than many composers can dream of.
7. “Dead Already” by Thomas Newman from “American Beauty” (1999)
This is one of the most original pieces of music in this list, since is is composed mainly for the percussion section of the orchestra. Is it both beautiful and somewhat haunting at the same time. Newman’s forefront use of the Vibraphone is a thing to behold.
6. “Jurassic Park Main Theme” by John Williams from “Jurassic Park” (1993)
Beautiful. That is the only word I can think of that is fitting to describe this theme. I guess it helps that “Jurassic Park” was released in the week of my 7th birthday and that as a child I was a dinosaur nut. I loved this film and I loved this piece of music. John Williams had managed to compose a piece of music that was fit the sheer awe-inspiring dinosaurs that Steven Spielberg had created.
5. “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Theme” by Ennio Morricone from “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” (1966)
Rhythmic drumming, whistling, woodwind, an electric guitar, chanting, yodeling, brass … this theme utilizes every type of sound you can think of to make an epic theme. This may be the oldest film on this list, but it is also the best known piece of music to ever to come from a Western.
4. “The Raiders March” by John Williams from The Indiana Jones Trilogy (1981-1989)
(I refuse to count that 4th film as an Indy film.) Iconic is the one word that best describes this theme. It’s also heroic, fun, bold, strong … but it has it’s tender moments too. Great theme for a great character. Another example of John Williams using the whole orchestra.
3. “Star Wars Main Theme” by John Williams from the “Star Wars” saga (1977-2005)
How could I not include this? Utilizing the entire orchestra, Williams once again creates a grand piece of music befitting a truly epic film series. Does anyone else think of a royal parade when they hear that brass section at the start?
2. “Dueling Banjos” by Arthur Smith, Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel from “Deliverance” (1972)
Without this little piece of brilliance, “Deliverance” would just be a film about hillbillies committing gay rape in the woods. With this piece of music, it’s about hillbillies committing gay rape in the woods AND a terrific musical performance. This upbeat piece of music doesn’t really set the scene for the unpleasantness later in the film, but it does bring a smile to people’s faces.
1. “Jaws Main Theme” by John Williams from “Jaws” (1975)
Here is a piece of music that simply creates suspense. The idea of alternating E and F is brilliant in it’s simplicity. Williams has managed to create a piece of music that sounds like it is slowly approaching you. The fact that Spielberg originally thought the music was a joke from Williams just goes to show that even a genius like Spielberg can make mistakes. And in my mind, it is the best piece film music ever written.