Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Top 10 Scores Turning 30 in 2017

My newest yearly tradition - taking a ride on the musical time machine. This was a tough one: 1987 had a list of great scores that have stood the test of time, and over 30 years become fan favorites. So let's take a look back at 1987 with my list of the 10 Best Scores Turning 30!

Let's start the ranking!


10. The Princess Bride (Mark Knopfler)
Yes, the score is outdated and corny. The action bits are goofy, but the romantic acoustic guitar make this score still likable and unmistakable after all these years.
9. Hellraiser (Christopher Young)
For this horror flick, Young brought the horror score to a large orchestra while expanding the orchestral textures. The gothic style would be his mainstay for many more films and a larger trend in orchestral horror scores. 
8. Harry and the Hendersons (Bruce Broughton)
For this comedy/drama/family film, Broughton uses a strong main theme and brings it through many variations - a classical Mozart style, a love theme and even fits into the cartoon-style antics for Harry. It is rare to find a charming and heartfelt score as touching as this. 
7. Lethal Weapon (Michael Kamen & Eric Clapton)
Kamen and Clapton collaborated with the BBC miniseries Edge of Darkness, and again for this film. With this quintessential 80's action blockbuster, Kamen brought the orchestral chops, themes, with Clapton adding his guitar expertise, with David Sanborn on sax solos. This trio would return for the rest of the series, and Kamen would continue his large scale orchestral action to Die Hard. 
6. Witches of Eastwick (John Williams)
In a rare comedic turn, Williams' score matches the humor and menace of this tale. The main theme is devilish scherzo which repeats through the score and the playful woodwind writing stands out as more scores went electronic. His arrangement of the main theme - retitled Devil's Dance has made frequent appareances at his film music nights for years. 
5. The Living Daylights (John Barry)
The last James Bond film scored by Barry, the music mixes the old style with the modern drum loops and synth elements. Melodies are strong and heard often, with great suspense motifs used. Easily one of the best of Barry's later Bond work. Notable also for the cameo by Barry conducting an orchestra featuring the female lead as cello soloist.
4. Empire of the Sun (John Williams)
While often a forgotten film of Steven Spielberg, the score is extremely emotional and effective. Through our main character, the score transforms from frightening/sometimes atonal to the imaginative world he created. The choir used in the second half of the film is moving and used very well. The beautiful Cadillac of the Skies and joyful Exsultate Justi have also made film concert appearances. 
3. The Untouchables (Ennio Morricone)
The match the striking Brian DePalma visuals, Morricone produced an arresting score full of tension-filled cues and strong themes. He displays bits of jazz, music box suspense, a lyrical family theme, and haunting death theme. A standout for a Hollywood score by Morricone.
2. Robocop (Basil Poledouris)
The orchestral and electronic elements work together in this dark action film.  Even while director Paul Verhoeven goes comic or satirical, Poledouris plays it straight with a full range of large orchestral themes and motifs even during the action material.     
1. Predator (Alan Silvestri)
Silvestri brought a thrilling score to the alien jungle thriller. He provides a relentless drive to the film led by the piano/snare militaristic theme. He layers on dissonant brass, high tension strings, noble trumpet moments, jungle percussion and synth material. It's like a darker minor-theme version counterpart to Back to the Future. It's a score that still stands out




Honorable Mentions:
*batteries not included (James Horner), Cherry 2000 (Basil Poledouris), Innerspace (Jerry Goldsmith), The Last Emperor (Ryuichi Sakamoto/David Byrne), Monster Squad (Bruce Broughton) 

Any favorites of yours from 1987 that I didn't include? Comment below!

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