5 Pop Musicians Scoring for the Screen

Trent, old pal, what happened? You used to wear fishnets, dive into mudslides, smash Fenders. Now you wear suits, shake hands, clutch gold-plated Oscars. Nine Inch Nails main man Reznor was tapped by director David Fincher for the creepily brilliant soundtrack to last year’s The Social Network, turning what could have been a dry dot-com drama into an auditory masterclass in psychological horror. Now they’ve teamed up again, this time for, well, a real psychological horror, the American remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Early listens reveal an ambient score pulsing with even more of the neurotic edge that made their previous collaboration such compulsive listening. While Trent’s seismic shift reads strange on paper, the results are undeniably, well, strange, but in a good way. He’s in good company, too: Here are a few more pop musicians who have carved out a new niche at the cinema who love to score.

DAFT PUNK, Tron: Legacy
For a couple of robots from France it really was the perfect gig: create the soundtrack to a film set inside of a video game. An inspiring mash-up of orchestral grandeur and headbanging electronica, the perfect soundtrack for late night coding runs. Shame the film didn’t live up to it.

Another electronic act tapped into the world of genre filmmaking, this time the fairytale story of a girl raised by her father in the woods to become the perfect assassin. The Brothers’ score is perfect blend of innocence and ass-kickery, with the breaks and beats to match the bone-breaking and beatdowns handed out by its willowy protagonist.

The RZA, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai / Kill Bill Volume I
Wu Tang! Wu Tang! The leader of the Killa Bees has fans in Hollywood who appreciate his mastery of a well placed Kung-Fu clip or symphonic throwback from ’70s action flicks. Fellow grindhouse aficionado Quentin Tarantino called on the RZA to provide the retro-kung fu flavour for his genre tribute Kill Bill. For our money, though, it was his hip-hop instrumentals for Jim Jarmusch’s urban samurai story Ghost Dog, starring Forest Whitaker, that truly express the spirit of orchestral swordsmanship.

Speaking of Jarmusch, a special mention has to go to Neil Young for his work on Dead Man. For this existential western starring Johnny Depp as an accountant turned outlaw, Young composed a jangling, jarring, six-string score that chugs along with the rugged rhythm of the road. What’s more astonishing is that the entire soundtrack was recorded live while Young watched the movie projected in his studio, playing alongside it like a silent film. Talk about dedication, and genius.

Image courtesy of acidpolly.

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