Christmas has just gone and over the holidays I watched all eight Harry Potter movies (as they were on TV). I was quite nostalgic watching the whole story arc over a couple of days, so I decided to pick my favourite tracks from the series. The list is based on nostalgic memories of the tracks and also how affecting they are. I tried really hard to whittle it down but of course there’s just so many good songs. I couldn’t even get it to a rounded 15 so you’re just going to have to listen to 16! The scores are quite nostalgic and moving. They’re incredibly made and I feel each composer brought something to each film. John Williams is a genius and for me his scores are really nostalgic and intricate. Patrick Doyle wasn’t around for a long time but he did create good tracks for the Triwizard Tournament. Nicholas Cooper & Alexandre Desplat were my favourites during the series, I really can’t decide who I liked more. Nicholas Cooper had such fun and upbeat tracks as well as being epic or emotional. Alexandre Desplat is a really serious composer for me. His sounds really have something I can’t quite describe. I wouldn’t say “adult,” as that’s a bit condescending, but more affecting and emotional I think. He just has these brilliant sounds. Obviously each composer has to play off the plot they’re given, but all did a really impressive job in applying music to the story. Anyway, here are the top 16 tracks for me:
I decided to do a review of all the books I read in 2014 with a rating of each book. Note: there are spoilers throughout. I’m using my own rating system which is as follows:
10/10: Absolute classic/ Mind blowing/ life changing.
9/10: Amazing/ Superb.
8/10: Excellent/ Fantastic.
7/10: Great/ Enjoyable.
6/10: Good/ Solid.
5/10: Average/ Ok.
4/10: Disliked it.
3/10: Detested it.
2/10: Hated it with a passion.
1/10: Shouldn’t have been written/ Absolute Garbage.
I have included some novels I read University but excluded things like Anthologies. Although the list isn’t in order, you can find a full list of all the books I’ve read here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/27288351
Anyway, here are the books I read in 2014 by date:
Le Week-end (2013) follows a married couple’s holiday in Paris as they try to reinvigorate their love and marriage. A quaint and quite likeable film, it is a pleasurable watch. What really stood out for me was the soundtrack composed by Jeremy Sams. I am a sucker for jazz.
The soundtrack is filled with jazz pieces and we get a lot of rich sounds which does wonders for the Parisian backdrop. One of my personal favourites is the muted trumpet. It’s a sound that I love to hear in any song. It’s found throughout the soundtrack in particular “Train Music,” “Bank Girl” & “Doing A Runner.” It’s a quite solitary sound is it works well on its own. It conjures up this idea of solitude. But obviously because of the film the music isn’t bleak and the trumpet becomes a sort of comfort and warmth. In “Doing A Runner” the trumpet is accompanied by a double bass, drums and saxophone. It’s much more up tempo than the other tracks and consequently has an uplifting feel to it.
The piano plays an important role throughout the soundtrack. It’s used greatly in the contrast with silence. The notes are short and hang in the air like in “Nick In Corridor.” It’s quite minimalist and intermittent. We get this kind of gliding feeling when the piano is accompanied by the double bass like in “Train Music.”
In “Restaurant Wander” we get this smooth jazz vibe. The electric guitar (I think) is used to great avail here in creating this relaxing feeling. We also get the accordion which is an essential instrument in creating the Parisian sound-scape. It’s used prominently in “Hotel Escape.”
One of the more memorable tracks, “Madison,” is used during the dance scene. It’s an up tempo piece and in many ways the most fun. It works in contrast with all of the other tracks as it feels as though each instrument comes into its own in this piece. They really let go in this song and it’s almost like a catharsis. The trumpet is playful and unrestrained along with the saxophone, piano and drums. A great piece to end the movie on with a classic finish.
Following on from my post about Kirsten Dunst, I thought I’d continue the theme of Jazz bar performances. This time the spotlight is on Carey Mulligan and her rendition of “New York New York” in Shame (2011). I know jazz isn’t for everyone and jazz bars might seem a bit boring to some people but I truly find at times that they can be really great for the soul. It’s amazing how certain music can just let you disappear from the hustle and bustle of the world and just allow for some escapism. For me, jazz does that (and probably also Indie/ Folk but that’s another story).
Back to the movie. Firstly, I’m a big fan of Carey Mulligan. She’s such a great actress and has a few vocal performances in movies e.g. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). I was aware of this song before this movie. I had been listening to Frank Sinatra’s version for years since I was a child so I knew how uplifting and empowering the song was (Big Sinatra fan as well 😛 ). I think everyone has heard it. I do love that version, it really gets me motivated.
Carey Mulligan’s version is stripped back. We don’t have the brass accompaniment which really does take it in another direction. It’s so fragile and vulnerable. Mulligan’s voice is the centre of attention here and it’s really haunting and beautiful. It is accompanied by just the piano. There are gaps of silence which make her notes hang in the air. It’s almost as if there is an uncertainty which is the complete opposite of Sinatra’s determination. This really suits the meaning of the song. Where Sinatra confidently sings about success and getting to the top, Mulligan sings about longing. Her voice aches for happiness and she is beautifully vulnerable. It has a real delicacy about it that reflects the story of Shame as a whole. Her character, Sissy, possess these same traits. She is suicidal and there is always this fear of what she will do next. The plot of the movie has its characters teetering on the edge of destruction and yet they long for happiness and “normality.” The song really reflects this idea as there is this longing for something better and an uncertainty about the future.
A hauntingly beautiful performance that I will never forget.
Kirsten Dunst is by far one of my favourite actors. I also love her vocal ability. I’ll admit it, I’ve only heard a few of Kirsten Dunst’s vocal performances. But I must say, I’m in love with her voice. One of these is in Spiderman 3 (2007) while she is on the Broadway stage. She is perfect for musicals and does an amazing version of “They Say It’s Wonderful.” Her voice flows beautifully with the orchestra.
Contrasted with this is her jazz bar rendition of “I’m Through With Love.” This is one of my favourite pieces of music of all time, even though it’s literally a 50 seconds clip. Maybe the reason it’s so special is that it’s so rare and Dunst has released very little in terms of music. Personally I love jazz and jazz bars. I’ve never heard anything like Dunst’s singing voice. Some people note it as nasally but I love the tone of it. I think this style of song is known as the “torch song” but any songs I’ve looked up don’t quite have that tone that she has. They all have a more full sound or bass sound. It’s brilliant with the piano and drums.