Last post was about an accidental soundtrack of sorts. This one, not so much.
For better or for worse, music has always been a driving force in my life. It’s cheered me up and put me to sleep and calmed me down and inspired me to create when nobody else could. It’s been a caretaker of sorts.
Some of my earliest memories are of music. Singing in the car, watching Beauty and the Beast (and loving the music was about the only reason I’d watch, because the beast was scary as hell), my mom putting on music when she was cleaning or cooking, my dad conducting a symphony in the kitchen with a carving knife (I swear my childhood was completely normal!)… Not much takes me that far back that fondly.
Some of the most moving pieces of music I’ve come across are parts of (or even whole) soundtracks. Obviously, there’s Fantasia, but I’m talking about pieces and composers that aren’t necessarily instantly recognized. Alan Menken, for instance. Anyone know his name? Chances are, unless you’re a Disney-phile, you probably don’t. He wrote the scores for both Beauty and the Beast and Tangled, which are not entirely coincidentally my all-time favorite Disney movies. Listen to the prologue (also titled “The Enchantress”) of Beauty and the Beast. That little motif is what ties the story together for me, as you’ll note it is also used in “Transformation” near the end. As haunting and high and uncertain as it begins the movie, it returns a million times stronger and more brilliant, and I love both pieces equally. Though they’re musically similar, you cannot compare them and come out with one better than the other.
Menken’s work in Tangled was a bit less strong, I think, but “Kingdom Dance” is just so much fun, and the beginning of “The Tear Heals” is just perfect. I mean, the guy’s music is brilliant all around, and the songs you can sing along to are very catchy. There are days I wish I was a booming… whatever range Richard White (the voice of Gaston) is. Baritone? I dunno, and my more musically inclined brother will probably kill me if he ever sees this, but honestly, I can read music and sing, and I know the difference between a bass clef and a treble clef, and that’s all she wrote.
Several Miyazakai movies, most composed by Joe Hisaishi, make their way in here, too. Perhaps surprisingly, they’re the movies I tend to like less. Spirited Away had some pretty cool music, as did Howl’s Moving Castle, but my favorite pieces actually come from “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (“Nausicaa’s Requiem”, also called “Lalala” earlier on) and “Castle In the Sky” (“Confessions in the Moonlight”).
And now, a sampling of a few more soundtracks that I just can’t seem to get away from: Despicable Me (especially the titular track by Pharell Williams), Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (and Commentary: The Musical), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (yes, the late-80’s B-movie—judge all you want), the soundtracks of the first two Shrek movies, Pokémon: the First Movie, Star Wars (the boyfriend proceeded to introduce me to this gem. I have not gotten over it since.), and, from Warehouse 13, “Running Up That Hill” as covered by Track and Field. I might have cried. Again, judge all you want.
Of course, there’s about a bajillion and two-thrids (possibly three-fourths) animes I’m not naming, and a few live action ones. (Okay, I’ll plug for a few more Disney movies: Parent Trap—the newer one, again, with no shame—and, from The Big Green, “I Believe in You” and “Sunny Side Up”. Holes had a good one going, too.) A few shows have given me lots of good music—Haven, Warehouse 13, Pretty Little Liars… Yes, I know. I know. I also recently picked up Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who, and each has a fairly good selection.
There’s also game soundtracks. Jazz Jackrabbit has an amazing one. I love most of the Sonic the Hedgehog soundtracks, too. I particularly like DeDeDe’s theme in the Kirby games, as well as the Fountain of Dreams theme. Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary game-within-a-game had some pretty rockin’ music. And, of course, can’t forget Legend of Zelda.
As I’ve doubtless mentioned in at least one post, I’ve usually got a song or two that I’m just feeling at the moment—it sort of becomes my day’s (or week’s) soundtrack. Three Days Grace and Story of the Year are both good for attacking a very dirty bathroom. B*Witched is good for a happily creative day. Willa Ford and City High are for when I’m feeling particularly sassy. Nanne Grönvall (Yup, pullin’ out the Swedish, here.) is also a sassy one. P!nk for rebelliousness. Nightwish for sadness. Enya for meditation. And my whole “Before 2000” YouTube playlist for nostalgia.
Music: my drug (I would say my anti-drug, but I’ve never had the want to experiment in the first place), my life.