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Top 10 TV & Film Soundtracks of 2013

By David Selby

2013 wasn’t a bad year for film and television. Cinema is advancing with daring new directions and more realistic uses of relatively new techniques like 3D (which isn’t anywhere near as eye-straining as it used to be). In televisual terms, there were programs such as Broadchurch and An Adventure in Space and Time which have left such a huge emotional impact that they’ve been talked about ever since.

As a musician (of sorts), I’ve always relished in the fact that music makes such a distinguishing change to a film or television series. Indeed, the success of 2013 was in part due to the magnificent soundtracks which often went uncredited. So here are Cult Fix’s Top Ten picks from last year:

10. What Remains

A soundtrack was never released for the highly underrated crime drama but the music was some of the most memorable in the last few years. Simple, haunting piano sequences accompanied the ‘flashbacks’ throughout each episode, becoming one of the central characteristics of the series. I’d sincerely hope for a soundtrack release in the next year.

what-remains-series-1

9. Iron Man 3

It wasn’t the most outstanding soundtrack of 2013, but with its fast-paced action sequences it was able to bring more of a flow to the individual scenes. The trailer music was perhaps the most recognisable of the whole lot, and I’ve seen it pop up on YouTube on many occasions since.

8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Shamefully, I’ve never seen or read the Hobbit series, but I managed to have a listen to this soundtrack last week. Perhaps eighth place is doing it an injustice – I certainly think that those who have seen the film will find themselves connecting to it as they are reminded of their favourite scenes.

7. Broadchurch

Broadchurch was, for me, the single most heartrending drama I’ve seen in my whole life. It used the simple but effective premise of a woman who’s lost her son, with the backdrop and intriguing pretext of the classic ‘murder mystery’ (or not?). It was a series which, I’ll shamelessly say, managed to elicit tears on several instances. Arcade – and the extended version, Beth’s Theme are two of the saddest but most beautiful (yet simple) tunes I’ve ever heard. I’d give them a listen – and, if you haven’t, give the series a watch.

6. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

After the praise I’ve given Broadchurch, I’ll sadly have to agree with Samuel Rahaman’s review of the Percy Jackson sequel. It was a poor attempt at re-writing a good book. It was both arrogantly bold and insipidly unadventurous. It was, however, heightened considerably by a superb soundtrack that suited the magical, often chilling themes of the narrative.

5. Frozen

Idina Menzel is a blessed woman. She’s been graced with the gift of an enchanting voice, and the spectacular Let It Go allowed her to utilise her talents to their fullest. The lyrics, I found, resonated with me, and I’ve found myself repeating the soundtrack regularly.

4. The Returned

It was one of the strangest soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Dark and bass-heavy, and composed by a Scottish post-rock band, it seemed to bizarrely suit the series. Bring on Series Two – and bring on more Mogwai.

3. Doctor Who

Forgetting Series Seven’s excellent soundtrack, specials The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor relied largely on re-used pieces from recent series. Thankfully, these re-uses were beneficial to me as both a viewer and listener – Altering Lives, for instance, or Trenzalore, have become my favourite tracks because of how much I’ve appreciated them after hearing them used in scenes which match or exceed their original. The new tracks, in the meantime, are my favourites ever – Gold has toned down his music; it’s subtler, more poignant but debatably more notable. Yes – I’ll be watching The Musketeers.

2. Man of Steel

Hans Zimmer is one of the musical geniuses of the 21st Century, and if you want proof you need look no further than 2013’s Man of Steel. The leitmotif of the movie was adapted to be exhilarating, touching and shocking and sometimes all at the same time. One day we’ll be looking back on Zimmer as one of the greatest classical composers of all time. If we’re not, then there’ll be something wrong with the world.

1. An Adventure in Space and Time

Edmund Butt has always been one of my favourite composers and one of my main inspirations. I enjoyed his score for both Afterlife and Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes and I looked forward to seeing him compose for something with a different tone and set of ideas. I was also glad to see the composer finally receive some credit. It’s possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard and defied my expectations. Butt showed that he can cater for a quantity of varying emotional responses. He didn’t just do justice to a making-of drama – he did justice to William Hartnell, one of the great actors of the twentieth century.

The soundtrack for the illustrious docudrama will be released soon.

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  • The Administrator

    Great choices David (although The Hobbit would have been number 1 in my list)!

    • The Grey Ghost

      Really? I must say I was disappointed by Desolation’s soundtrack, with only a couple of pieces sticking in the mind. I was also a bit disappointed that (as far as I’m aware), the ‘Misty Mountains Cold’ melody doesn’t occur, but each to his own, I suppose.

      • The Administrator

        The new themes were excellent (Tauriel’s theme and the Lake-Town theme come to mind) Howard Shore has explained why the “Misty mountains theme doesn’t appear in this film. It’s due to the company being in unknown territory and not being really safe at any point, he wanted the audience to feel this as well by not having the theme present. He has hinted it will return in “There and Back Again”

        • The Grey Ghost

          That makes sense, I suppose, and I did enjoy the Lake Town theme.

  • TardisBoy

    Excellent article, David. Personally for me Frozen and the Hobbit would be first and second place. They’re both amazing soundtracks that resonate with me on so many levels.

    But great choices!

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