Ever since it’s been possible to accompany film with sound, music has become an integral part of our viewing experience. There’s the score, which works in the background, subtly underpinning scenes with music that guides our emotions through the journey. Many of these become iconic in their own right, including John Williams’s timeless Star Wars: A New Hope theme – which has been named as the best film theme tune of all time in a joint poll by RadioTimes.com and BBC Music Magazine.
But there’s also the soundtrack, a curated list of songs that occupies a more obvious presence in the plot – and acts as a reminder of a great cinematic experience whenever we hear them. While many fly under the radar, certain soundtracks capture the imagination and break through into popular culture. By shining the spotlight on the movie business’ biggest hits, we’re discovering what really makes an iconic soundtrack.
It takes something special for a movie to not just be successful, but for that success to grow year on year – and a large part of that is down to the soundtrack. There’s no secret formula to crossing over into popular culture though. As we’ve seen, some soundtracks spawned singles that became smash hits in their own right, some chose tracks that contributed to an immersive audio-visual experience, and others carefully curated songs that became an extension of the film. What’s clear is that when a film sounds as good as it looks, it’s certain to be remembered for years to come.