At some point over the past 20 years, movie soundtracks went from being well-curated mixtapes that served as companion pieces to the actual films in question to a simple conglomeration of throwaway hit singles and up-and-coming artists that labels are desperate to promote. So when a great movie soundtrack comes along, it feels extra special when compared to the developments of recent history. The MTV Newsroom Blog takes movie soundtracks very seriously, which is why we’ve been keeping close tabs on the developments in the soundtrack universe over the past 12 months. And while 2010 wasn’t as great as, say, 1999 (the year that the accompanying albums to “Fight Club,” “The Matrix,” “Go” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” all delivered exceptional results), there were still some excellent soundtracks this year. In no particular order, here are the five best movie soundtracks of 2010.
“The Social Network”
In addition to putting out the excellent debut EP from their new band How to Destroy Angels this year, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross also spent a bulk of their time scoring David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” crafting desolate soundscapes that provided the perfect compliment to the critically-acclaimed film. Reznor and Ross’ music is never showy but does enough to remind you that it’s there, and it somehow manages to express an awful lot despite its oft-minimalist qualities. It even manages to sound cold, which is an ideal compliment to Fincher’s visual approach.
Part of the excitement surrounding “Tron: Legacy” was the fact that Daft Punk would be releasing their first batch of original music since their awesome 2005 album Human After All. And while some may have been disappointed by the lack of dancefloor-shakers on the album, their futuristic approach to orchestral score (which is delightfully lush) turned heads in an all new way. “Tron: Legacy” proved that Daft Punk clearly have a lot more up their sleeves, and that’s just as thrilling as “Derezzed.”
“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”
Say what you will about the quality of the “Twilight” series, but the soundtracks have all been roundly excellent, featuring a good cross-section of tracks from the outer reaches of the rock world. Though “Eclipse” may have been the least commercially visible of all the soundtrack albums so far, it was also the most consistently great. The two singles (one by Muse, the other from Metric) are both fantastically sharp tunes, and the contributions from Vampire Weekend, the Dead Weather, Cee Lo Green, Bat For Lashes and the Black Keys (among many others) are all top-shelf and worthy of being centerpieces on their own albums.
“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”
“Scott Pilgrim” may have been the most music-centric flick of 2010 (the protagonist was a heroic bass player, after all), so it shouldn’t be surprising that the accompanying soundtrack was clearly put together with a great deal of affection for the material. The borrowed songs are incredibly well curated (including Frank Black’s “I Heard Ramona Sing,” T. Rex’s “Teenage Dream” and the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”), but the true joys are the tracks by Pilgrim’s fake band in the film (the most important of which — Sex Bob-Omb — is actually just Beck).
Sure, it was one of the worst-received movies of the year, but “Jonah Hex” did have at least one thing going for it: Mastodon, the progressive metal band who provided a bunch of new music to underscore the nightmarish tale of an undead something-or-other doing something-or-other. And here’s the kicker: Apparently, the original soundtrack the band wrote was much heavier, but it unfortunately had to be scrapped because it accompanied scenes that were excised from the movie.
What was your favorite movie soundtrack of 2010? Let us know in the comments!