Monday, April 2, 2012

The Top 10 Most Beautiful Songs in Movies. Ever.

Here I am, chilling with the Caped Crusader himself.
I warn those about to read, this will be a big waste of your time if you are not a fan of movies, and more specifically, movie soundtracks. If you aren’t, seriously, stop reading.

For the rest of you...

I LOVE movies. Love love love. Anyone who knows the slightest about me knows this, and they also I know I tend to be a bit critical. One thing I tend to pay particular attention to is movie scores and soundtracks. I LOVE movie soundtracks.  Love love love.

At this point, I need to clarify what I'm going for here. I was looking for the 10 most beautiful (not necessarily powerful) movie songs of all time. Unfortunately, this turned out to be harder than I thought. It felt a bit like going out to a high mountain during a beautiful summer night and picking out your favorite stars, or choosing your favorite siblings, or picking your favorite moment from Dumb and Dumber. So I made a rule to make things a bit simpler: a composer can only have 1 song on the list (although I may list a few honorable mentions).  So, here's the list:

Barely Missed the Cut:
  • "Spring Training" by Jerry Goldsmith (Rudy)
  • "Main Titles" by Randy Edelman (Dragonheart)
  • "Main Theme" by John Barry (Dances With Wolves)

The Top 10

10.  "I'm Listening" by James Newton Howard (I Am Legend)

James Newton Howard deserves a bit more credit here, as he has had his hand (cool alliteration!) in many scores as a co-composer, such as The Dark Knight. The soundtrack for I Am Legend is one of the more underrated scores out there, and there are many songs I could have put here just from that score. 

Honorable Mentions by Howard:
  • "Lucious, I'm Back" (The Village)
  • "It's Over" (The Fugitive)

9.  “The End” by Harry Gregson-Williams (Man on Fire)

Gregson-Williams and Gerrard really hit a home run here (admittedly, I’m assuming it was a collaborative effort, so I’m giving both of them the credit). This was one of those songs that really thumped me on the head while I was watching the movie – as if, despite the movie being cool, the song was yelling, “hey, I’m cooler than this scene."

Honorable Mentions by Gregson-Williams:
  • "Evacuating London" and "Narnia Lullabye" (The Chronicles of Narnia)

8.  “End Credits” by Dario Marionelli (Pride and Prejudice)

This list is turning out to be tougher than I even originally intended. Good Grief! Our next song comes from someone I’m not super familiar with, although as soon as I heard this soundtrack, I fell in love. Everything about it makes sense. I’m not sure a theme from a movie fit the character (in this case, Elizabeth) more than Marianelli’s theme here. This song seems to embody what someone would want out of a relationship. I’d better stop talking about this song or I’ll really start showing off my less-manly side.

7.  "Truman Sleeps" by Philip Glass (The Truman Show)

Just when you thought a Jim Carrey movie couldn’t possibly get on this list… Philip Glass saves the day! It’s hard not to picture in your mind Truman sleeping on the projector screen, while this dude plays this song on a little keyboard. Fitting for a TV show about a man’s life? Perhaps not. This song feels just a bit larger than the projector screen. Then again, the movie was fantastic. So who can say? In a nutshell, this song is just plain superb (so was Ed Harris).

6.  “Eptesicus” by Hans Zimmer (Batman Begins)

Zimmermania seems to be the rage in the soundtrack world at the moment. I recently found (on Grooveshark) a song called “Zimmer Mega Mix!” that included a total of 2 Zimmer songs (a bit disappointing). Indeed, Hans Zimmer is known for his powerful and commanding scores. From Pirates of the Caribbean to The Last Samurai, his movies somehow capture the actual power of the movie itself. Here, we find a lighter, softer side to Zimmer's traditionally powerful anthems, a side necessary to capture the essence of Bruce Wayne’s childhood. Implicit in the song is the relationship Bruce shares with his father, and you can picture the stethoscope scene (if you are Batman-knowledgeable enough). This was one of my tougher picks, because Zimmer has, to be frank, more songs to choose from than you could fill a batcave with. But this one tops ‘em (and also solves the argument as to which Batman movie has the better score). It's also worth noting that the songs in Batman Begins were all named after different species of bats. Which is super cool.

Honorable Mentions by Zimmer:
  • “Honor Him/Now We Are Free” (Gladiator)
  • "Time" (Inception)
  • "A Small Measure Of Peace" (The Last Samurai)
  • "Election By Adoration" (Angels And Demons)
  • "Chaveliers De Sangreal" (The Da Vinci Code)

5.  “Feather Theme” by Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump)

Silvestri is a lesser-known composer who had done some pretty decent work at composing. This, however, is his gem. I don't need say anymore than this:

“Hey Forrest. Don't... I wanted to tell you I love you."
“I love you too, Daddy."
“I'll be right here when you get back."

Honorable Mentions by Silvestri:
  • "Main Theme" (Cast Away)
  • "I Believe Her" (Contact) 

4.  “You Are The Pan” by John Williams (Hook)

This song, frankly, is just so underrated it’s sickening. Some may laugh, some may mock my choice, but then they will go listen to this song, and think of the smallest of the Lost Boys who discovers Peter Pan and helps him remember Neverland. It’s as if Spielberg and Williams decided, together, they were going to stick it to adulthood. Give this song a listen before you cry out in protest. A tough pick? I’ll say.

Honorable Mentions by Williams:
  • “A Tree for my Bed” (Jurassic Park)
  • "Flying Theme" (E.T.)
  • "Toy Planes, Home, Hearth" (Empire Of The Sun)
  • "Luke And Leia," "Yoda's Theme," "Anakin's Theme," (Star Wars)

3.  “The Breaking of the Fellowship” by Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings)

One of my favorite things about the score for the LOTR movies is that Shore titled the songs after chapters of the books. That is just one of many, many things I love about this soundtrack (my cousin Doug once called it a modern day Symphony – I think it transcends symphonies). Honestly, how could I choose one song from such a gold mine? In this song, however, the beauty of perhaps my favorite scene from all 3 movies is fully captured:

Frodo: "I'm going to Mordor alone!"
Sam: "Of course you are!  And I'm coming with you!"

Frodo and Sam form one of the strongest friendships in literature and film, and this movie, ironically, refers to a bond such as this as a “breaking” of something else. Clever. Here are some other songs I nearly chose from LOTR.
  • "The Bridge Of Khazad-Dum" (the last minute of this song is memorable)
  • "The Steward Of Gondor"
  • "The Gray Havens" (heaven, anyone?)
  • "The Return Of The King" ("my friends, you bow to No one...")
  • "The King Of The Golden Hall" (is there a better theme in film than the Rohan Theme?)
  • "Samwise The Brave"

2.  "Casper’s Lullaby” by James Horner (Casper)

Those who may scoff that such a terrible movie could have the #2 most beautiful song of all time… need to stop and listen. This song is so unbelievably beautiful, and at the same time by far the most difficult decision of the whole list. I mean, I’ll just stop talking and show you the list of honorable mentions. If you don’t like my pick, go make a list of your own (but listen to this song first, and do it without tearing up). 

Honorable Mentions by Horner:
  • "Epitaph To War" (Glory)
  • "Freedom Theme," "For The Love Of A Princess" (Braveheart)
  • "Creating 'Governing Dynamics'" (A Beautiful Mind)
  • "Whispering Winds" (The Land Before Time)
  • "Main Theme" (Field Of Dreams)
  • "Diego's Goodbye" (The Mask Of Zorro)

1.  "Schindler's List Theme" by John Williams (Schindler's List)

Ok, so I cheated. I chose Williams for two spots. I figured, since he is the greatest movie composer of all time, he deserved it. This one tops the list. It tops them ALL. I mean, are you kidding me? To really understand the full scope of this song, you really need to see the movie. Spielberg, Neeson, Williams, and Perlman all combined for this song, and frankly, what more could you ask for? A perfect movie? Debatable. A perfect final scene? Plausible. A perfect song? Without question.




  1. You know I'm as crazy about movies and movie music as you are (well maybe not quite), so I wasn't in the least deterred by your warning at the start of the post.

    And I agree that all of the songs you have on there are awesome - although I'm not sure if all would make my top ten.
    If we were allowed to duplicate composers, I think the Lord of the Rings soundtrack would BE my top 10.
    I'm glad to see Truman Show represented as well - Philip Glass is a genius.

    But I think you missed out on one of the best composers of all time(IMHO): Ennio Morricone.
    If I had to pick my favorite song of his, it would be from "The Mission",

    but other choices could be from "Cinema Paradiso",

    or the entire soundtrack of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

    Others I would put up for consideration:

    Nino Rota's Godfather theme

    Clint Mansell - The Fountain

    The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack
    Gattaca soundtrack
    October Sky main theme

    Sorry for the long post.

    1. I knew you would reference The Mission. In fact, I think I may just have left it off of the list to provoke a response from you. It's worthy, though, although actually it still probably wouldn't make my top 10.

      Nothing against Last of the Mohicans, but I was really looking for beautiful here, and I felt like, as pretty as the theme is, it wasn't quite... enough.

      As far as "The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly" is concerned, true it may be a classic, but once again, beautiful??? Come on.

    2. Ok, I'll grant you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly isn't really beautiful, though it is pretty iconic.

      As for Last of the Mohicans, most of the soundtrack is more epic than beautiful - but remember this one before you pass it off:

  2. Wow. Good selection! I agree with all of these that I've heard! I'm going to need to look up a few of these that I'm not familiar with. Good stuff. We Hesses know good music when we hear it! :)

  3. More like the 40 most beautiful songs in movies...

  4. I loved Empire of the un...

  5. This is perfect and most definitely agree that Lord of the Rings sountrack is amazing and that Dario Marianelli's works deserve to be on this list. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite movies and I am certain the score had at least a little bit to do with it (I know most of the film score on the piano)... Amazing webpage

  6. Good list. But yes Davetens. Achingly beautiful:

    While I'm at it here are some favourites that I hope someone else out there may enjoy:

    Pretty melody/my paree - george burns
    Mr smarty man
    auf dem wasser zu singen
    vertigo - elmer bernstein
    cuckoo - benjamin britten
    Abrahams theme - Vangelis
    Fish beach - Nyman
    The Departure - Nyman
    A New Life - Jerry Goldsmith
    Whisper of a Thrill - Newman
    The Sixth Station - Joe Hisaishi
    Koolen - Eric Serra
    Spartacus love theme - Alex North
    Father Kolbe's Preaching

  7. Wow, James, thanks for the songs! I found some new ones, thanks to your list. In the meantime, check out my new blog: I'd love all of your input!

  8. Very Good list but I would have definitely had "A Small Measure Of Piece" from The Last Samurai (, as that is just jaw droppingly beautiful and my favourite piece of movie music bar none. I would also have the Ennio Morricone theme from Once Upon a Time In The West ( and a mention surely to Somewhere in Time