4 Great Movie Scores You Didn't Know Were By Famous Musicians

Sometimes famous pop music acts go a bit out of their comfort zone ... and make great film scores! Here's a list of four films you're going to want to take a gander at (again, perhaps), now with newfound knowledge of the brilliance behind their respective soundtracks.

1. 'Prince Avalanche' — Explosions In The Sky

Originally premiering in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and garnering a Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, Prince Avalanche has now hit the big screen nationwide. Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch take comedy to a strangely touching level as they travel a through a South ravaged by wildfire, painting roads. Texas band Explosions in the Sky signed on for the score — fitting for a film shot in Bastrop, Texas. But location aside, the self-described “cathartic mini-symphonies” of guitars by Explosions in the Sky carry a quiet sentimentality that seems perfect for the meditative outdoorsy quest of Alvin (Paul Rudd). At the same time, the music of Explosions in the Sky has a tendency to, well, explode to booming heights, which fits the striking contrast between Alvin’s calm, old-fashioned nature, and Lance’s (Emile Hirsch) out-of-place, dopey city-kid ways. Inevitably, a friendship unfolds in the scorched Texas wilderness, and who better to frame that metamorphosis than the climactic electric guitars of Explosions in the Sky?

2. 'The Virgin Suicides' — Air

If avant-garde French duo Air were to only provide the soundtrack for one American film, it’s not surprising that it would be The Virgin Suicides. Based on the novel of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides, the 1999 film unravels the suicides of five sisters living in a middle-class Detroit suburb. The New York Post claimed, “It’s hard to remember a film that mixes disparate, delicate ingredients with the subtlety and virtuosity of… The Virgin Suicides.” Far from coincidentally, the magical grooviness of Air seems to fit the description of “disparate, delicate ingredients” with “subtlety and virtuosity” quite well, so it’s no wonder the French instrumentalists were eager to hop on board for the film, and the next year they even hired Virgin Suicides director Sofia Coppola to direct their 2000 music video “Playground Love."

3. 'Hanna' — Chemical Brothers

For an action thriller like Joe Wright’s 2011 Hanna, an act like Air wasn’t quite going to cut it. Chemical Brothers, on the other hand, were not a bad choice. The film follows the story of a 15-year-old girl-turned super soldier (think Jason Bourne but way more into bows and arrows) and her quest to figure out who her real father is, and why a bunch of psycho CIA operatives are hunting her down. Electronic “big beat” duo Chemical Brothers supplied the perfect score for such a thriller flick, keeping up the pace with this film just after their seventh studio album (the eighth is intended for release this year).

4. 'There Will Be Blood' — Jonny Greenwood

2007’s There Will Be Blood, a gritty tale set during southern California’s oil boom, is a film just ruthless enough that it would be fitting for a score from … the guitarist from Radiohead?! At first it was a bit shocking, but Jonny Greenwood's adaptable composition style fit pretty awesomely in the oil-drilling saga. A few years after its release, There Will Be Blood was chosen by a slew of critics from the Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, and At The Movies as the best film of its decade, so it’s no surprise Jonny Greenwood, often heralded as one of the greatest guitarists of the modern era and a member of one of the world's most acclaimed bands, would be chosen for the score.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jake Stein

Editor-In-Chief of The Portland Spectator at Portland State University.

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