Every once in a while a score or song from a movie follows me home from the movie theater (or living room couch, if we’re really being honest) and fills me with C.S Lewis’ brand of Joy for days by playing on a loop in my head. 2013 was especially full of those pieces. As with my 10 Most Moving Score Pieces list, I should mention that I am not a musician and apologize for any misuse of music terms.
#5 Goodbye My Son by Hans Zimmer in Man of Steel
“Goodbye My Son” deserves mention as one of Hans Zimmer’s more melodic pieces in recent memory. The lullaby quality of Hilda “Thórhildur” Örvarsdóttir‘s vocals gives the piece immeasurable poignancy as it plays over Jor-El and Lara’s farewell to little Kal-El. The vocal and orchestral build from 1:43 onward is especially affective.
Mako by Ramin Djawadi in Pacific Rim
This is a slight variation of the piece that plays over my favorite moment in Pacific Rim: when Mako meets Pentecost for the first time. For some reason, the original music isn’t on the soundtrack but the addition of Priscilla Ahn‘s vocals makes me like this version even more than the original. It’s a lovely melody that manages to transition from despair to hope without ever losing its haunting quality
Do You Want To Build A Snowman by by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez in Frozen
I would be remiss if I didn’t include something from Frozen‘s soundtrack but, surprisingly, I’m not choosing “Let It Go“. It’s not because “Let It Go” doesn’t deserve recognition (though context is necessary to fully appreciate it) but because I ultimately found “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” more moving. Really, “Do You Want To Be A Snowman” is the reason “Let It Go” is so affecting: it establishes the very constraints that Elsa is, well, letting go of in her signature ballad. The saccharine first verse had me rolling my eyes but, retrospectively, it’s that very sweetness that makes Anna’s final request to build a snowman so poignant. The orchestra from 2:57 onwards deserves mention for concluding a seemingly upbeat song so wistfully.
Into Eternity by Brian Tyler in Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World‘s soundtrack is one of the few things that I whole-heartedly adore about the movie but “Into Eternity” was the one specific score piece that I remember thinking “I’m going to look this up later” while in the theater. I love Azam Ali‘s slower and therefore sadder vocal rendition of the usually energizing Main Theme. The descending sequence that begins at 2:50 is especially moving when one remembers that it plays over Loki’s reaction to the news of Frigga’s death. The swell of the orchestra with Ali’s vocals convey the unravelling madness of grief. Beautiful music for a beautiful scene.
Warp Core Values by Michael Giacchino in Star Trek Into Darkness
As controversial as the scene that this piece plays over is, I do think that “Warp Core Values” deserves attention. While I admit that “killing” off Kirk in Wrath of Khan fashion was an unwise decision on the part of the writers, the scene itself is beautifully executed and it has all to do with the music. The way Giacchino’s Star Trek theme builds slowly, almost laboriously, from 2:10 onwards (with choral accompaniment, of course) gives the piece a near excruciating intensity that parallels Kirk’s struggle and commitment to realign the warp core. It’s music so powerful that it justifies its derivative scene’s existence in the movie. Also, I’d love to know what instrument that is at 1:46-1:47. It gives me chills every time.