Soundtracking is a regular column that appears on Cineplex.com looking at the music featured in the biggest new releases both in theatre and on home video. Shane McNeil looks at the top musical moments from 2014.
As the year winds to a close, Soundtracking looks back at the ten best moments, songs and trends that made 2014 a great year for music on screen.
It’s the only way to kick off this list. If the 21st Century truly believed in cassettes, most copies of this soundtrack would be worn out by now. The first ever back catalogue-only soundtrack to hit Number One on the Billboard charts, Awesome Mix Vol. 1 was a masterpiece in AM Radio curation. But you already knew that. Cue the Star-Lord strut:
9. The F Word
Michael Dowse’s rom-com wins the Canadiana Award for 2014 thanks in large part to an original score by New Pornographers founder A.C. Newman and a dappling of Patrick Watson throughout the film. Ironically, the most memorable track from the film comes courtesy of southern duo The Parting Gifts.
8. Tweedy gets out in front of Boyhood and St. Vincent
Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy launched his side-project (creatively named “Tweedy”) with his 18-year-old son Spencer this year, somewhat satiating fans of the band that have been waiting three years for a new disc of original material. Tweedy used a pair of films to add value to the September release, lending his track “Summer Noon” to Richard Linklater’s decade-plus epic Boyhood before dropping a pair of unreleased tracks onto the soundtrack for St. Vincent.
7. God Help the Girl
A film that enjoyed a year-long roadshow exhibition, God Help the Girl is about as twee and Scottish as you’d expect a film directed by Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch to be. It has its flaws, but the eponymous cinematic rendering of Murdoch’s 2009 side project featured many of the year’s catchiest on-screen numbers.
6. “From Scotland with Love”
A historical foil to Murdoch’s tale of youth and heartbreak, this BBC-backed documentary was technically a television production, but its soundtrack was one of the year’s truly great albums. King Creosote’s song score perfectly underpins the collection of historical clips that told the story of a century in Scotland.
5. Muppets Most Wanted and Mommy figure out Celine Dion
Is this the year filmmakers finally learned how to properly use Celine Dion? The Muppets go the hyper-ridiculous route by having her appear out of a cloud of stardust, while Xavier Dolan declares her a “national treasure” in an impromptu Quebecois kitchen party. Possibly the two best uses of the diva since Beauty and the Beast.
4. Only Lovers left Alive and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on undead romance
It was a good year for vampires in love. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston got Jim Jarmusch’s Detroit-by-way-of-Tangiers mash-up in Only Lovers Left Alive, while Ana Lily Amirpour proved that Iranians also know a thing or two about vampires with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The musical centerpiece of the latter plays over top of a tender moment between the protagonist and a person the audience is not sure is a lover or a victim: It’s the aptly-titled “Death” by White Lies.
There’s a lot to love about Pride, Matthew Warchus‘ uplifting drama about gay rights activists and union miners working together to stick it to Maggie Thatcher. But, my God, that soundtrack! The music has something for everyone, running from The Smiths to Phil Collins to Billy Bragg in equal measure, but it’s a disco hit from 1974 that steals the show.
This was the single cleverest and funniest musical sequence of the year. The would-be Quicksilver could have been introduced in a lightning-fast, bombastic sequence. Instead, Bryan Singer and his team slow things down and let Jim Croce do the heavy-lifting.
1. Wish I Was Here and Obvious Child rediscover Paul Simon
The opening track off Paul Simon’s “Graceland” follow-up – 1990’s “Rhythm of the Saints” – got its turn in the sun in 2014 in two high profile soundtrack placements. “The Obvious Child” served as the centerpiece for Zach Braff’s kickstarter kick at the can and the inspiration for the Jenny Slate vehicle of same name. It earns back-track of the year honours, which puts it at number one here.