Best Soundtracks Of 2011

This is a list of our favourite soundtracks of 2011. We are currently working on a list of the best original scores, which should be posted sometime before the end of the year. It hasn’t been the greatest year for movie soundtracks, but I can say that the top five have been spinning in my I-Phone for months. Let us know if you think we left out any soundtracks you would recommend. It is worthy mentioning that there stands a good chance the soundtrack to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo would make the list, but it sadly won’t be out soon enough, so perhaps we will include it on next year’s list instead. Enjoy!

12 – Young Adult

One of the themes of Jason Reitman’s upcoming film Young Adult, is the idea of being stuck in the past, and trying to relive your glory days, and so it’s no surprise that the soundtrack to the film is loathed with 1990s alt-rock cuts. Due December 6th via Rhino Records, the fifteen-track disc features the Replacements, the Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub, Cracker, 4 Non Blondes, Veruca Salt and many more. The album also includes one track by the film’s composer, Rolfe Kent (who previously scored the director’s Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air), as well as five tracks by Mateo Messina – who composed five instrumental takes on popular alt-rock songs from the late ’80s and ’90s for Juno – a film written and directed by Diablo Cody, who is also credited as the screenplay writer of Young Adult. It all comes full circle, as they say.

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1. When We Grow Up – Diana Ross
2. What’s Up – 4 Non Blondes
3. Achin’ To Be – The Replacements
4. It’s A Shame About Ray (Remastered Album Version) – Lemonheads
5. Seether – Veruca Salt
6. The Concept – Teenage Fanclub
7. Pledge Your Allegiance – Suicidal Tendencies
8. Feel The Pain (2007 Remastered LP Version) – Dinosaur Jr.
9. Low – Cracker
10. Why Buddy? – Rolfe Kent
11. Epic – Mateo Messina
12. Even Flow – Mateo Messina
13. Where It’s At – Mateo Messina
14. Big Me – Mateo Messina
15. Black Hole Sun – Mateo Messina

****

11- The Woman

Wowing fans and critics alike at it’s premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival, Lucky McKee’s controversial horror The Woman emerged as one of our favourite films of the year. Apart from the disciplined direction, enthralling story and incredible performances, is a killer soundtrack from indie veteran Sean Spillane. Spillane, best known for his time in Subpop’s critically acclaimed band ARLO, (along with his role in electro-pop/rock band Midway), and his work on the soundtrack to The United States of Leland. Apparently Spillane produced, wrote and recorded the songs for the film while on location during the shooting of The Woman, and is credited as playing guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and also performing all the vocals for the songs.

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****

10 -Pina

Perhaps no soundtrack was as crucial to the success of a film this year than that of Wim Wenders’ 3D dance documentary Pina. The reason should be obvious. The music featured in Pina is a diverse, eclectic and enthralling selection which includes six new compositions from the film’s composer, Thom Hanreich., as well as three tracks from the work of Jun Miyake, a famous jazz musician and composer of television. Also included is “Fat Ass Joint,” a funk experiment by Amon Tobin (Cujo).

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01. Thom Hanreich – Pina
02. Jun Miyake – Lillies Of The Valley
03. Thom Hanreich – Glasshouse
04. Hazmat Modine – Bahamut
05. Thom Hanreich – Rooftop
06. Owain Phyfe – La Prima Vez
07. The English Chamber Orchestra – O Let Me Weep For Ever Weep
08. Germano Rocha – Os Meus Olhos
09. Thom Hanreich – Tied Down
10. Jun Miyake – The Here And After
11. Rene Aubry – Memoires De Futur
12. Thom Hanreich – My One And Only Love
13. Jun Miyake – All Names
14. Cujo – Fatass Joint
15. Thom Hanreich – Shake It

****

9 – Underwater Love: A Pink Musical

The latest in Japanese Pink film, Underwater Love: A Pink Musical, has been winning fans around the international festival circuit since premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this past April. The film features on interesting collaboration between the Japanese filmmaker Shinji Imaok, legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle and the German/French synth-pop duo Stereo Total – who produced the soundtrack. Stereo Total’s music is very playful and wildly eclectic, and their mash-up of synth-pop, new wave, electronica, punk rock and pop music make them the best candidates for the job. Although a Japanese film, the songs are primarily sung in German and French, but some of their output also features a number of other languages, such as Japanese, Spanish and English.

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A1 Kappa Theme

A2 Fish Factory

A3 Kappa Appears

A4 Kappa In Love

A5 Kappa Works In The Factory

A6 Kappa Sex

A7 Kappa Interferes

A8 Searching The Kappa

A9 Kappa And The God Of Death

A10 Kappa Alone

B1 The Escape

B2 In The Woods

B3 The Kappa Family

B4 Fight With The God Of Death

B5 Death Of The Kappa

B6 Kappa Disappears

B7 Loveletter

B8 The Dance Of All Characters

B9 Kappa-Pa Endtitel

****

8- The Muppets

As expected, the soundtrack to the movie The Muppets offers a “sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational” mix of some of the most beloved songs from the Muppets’ past along with some wonderful new additions. The four new ballads written by Bret McKenzie, half of the musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who served as music supervisor on the film, were for the most part, great. Included is “Life’s a Happy Song” and its reprise, and perhaps the best musical number, the piano ballad and existential ode “Man or Muppet.” The soundtrack will appeal to the middle-aged crowd who grew up watching The Muppets’ television show and the original 1979 film, The Muppet Movie.

Kermit the Frog’s Oscar-nominated ballad-and-voice anthem “Rainbow Connection” is a trip down memory lane, and the movie features the a new recording of “The Muppet Show Theme” with an appearance by Joanna Newsom. Plus, how can you not like the Muppets rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? “Mahna Mahna,” which helps bring the movie to a close also appeared during a sketch on the The Muppet Show’s 1976 premiere, but actually originated from an Italian soft-core pseudo-documentary called Sweden: Heaven and Hell, about lesbian nightclubs, wife swapping, porno movies, biker gangs, and Walpurgis Night celebrations. We don’t get any nude Swedish women in The Muppets, but we’re treated with a very adorable Amy Adams and the one and only Miss Piggy. That’s good enough in my books.


1. Various artists. 1. The Muppet Show Theme – The Muppets
2. Life’s a Happy Song – Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter
3. Pictures in My Head – Kermit and The Muppets
4. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon
5. Rainbow Connection – The Moopets
6. We Built This City – Starship
7. Me Party – Amy Adams and Miss Piggy
8. Let’s Talk About Me – Chris Cooper
9. Man or Muppet – Jason Segel and Walter
10. Smells Like Teen Spirit – The Muppets Barbershop Quartet
11. Forget You – Camilla and The Chickens
12. Rainbow Connection – The Muppets
13. The Whistling Caruso – Andrew Bird
14. Life’s a Happy Song – Finale Entire Cast
15. Mahna Mahna – Mahna Mahna and The Two Snowths

****

7- Submarine

Submarine is certainly one of my favourite films of the year. Based on the debut novel of the same name by Joe Dunthorne, the film follows the story of a 15 year-old boy who is struggling to lose his virginity while struggling to keep his parents together. Technically it premiered here in Montreal in 2010, at the Festival Du Nouveau Cinema, but it really only had a theatrical release in 2011. With this incredibly unique film came a similarly rare soundtrack. Alex Turner, frontman for the Arctic Monkeys, headed up the charge with a handful of brand new solo tracks inspired by Scott Walker’s collection of songs written by Belgian musician Jacques Brel. This project marks Turner’s first turn as a solo artist, all with the help of producer James Ford (who happens to moonlight as co-founder/member of Simian Mobile Disco). Turner sticks to acoustic guitar and piano, for the soundtrack while of course, also supplying the vocals. The songs featured on the six-track EP are listed below.

01 Stuck on the Puzzle (Intro)
02 Hiding Tonight
03 Glass in the Park
04 It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind
05 Stuck on the Puzzle
06 Piledriver Waltz

****

6- The Descendants

As far as I know, The Descendants is the first mainstream American movie scored exclusively with Hawaiian music, and it is one of the most compelling collections of Hawaiian music in recent memory. Created by acknowledged masters of the genre, both modern and classical, the music allows for a very distinctly Hawaiian flavor, and plays as a crucial component to Alexander Payne’s family drama. The opening narration of the film stresses that even in paradise, people’s problems are just as serious as anyone else’s. The music operates on that premise – that life is hard no matter where you live. The soundtrack features some of the architects of the genre’s golden and modern eras: Gabby Pahinui, Sonny Chillingworth, Ray Kane and Keola Beamer among them – artists representing generations to parallel the characters in the film – the descendants. The soundtrack’s oldest selection is a prime example: a 1930 arrangement of the traditional “Ka Mele Oku’u Pu’wai,” done by Hawaiian guitar pioneer Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Trio.

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1. Ka Makani Ka ‘Ili Aloha
2. Kalena Kai
3. Hi ‘Ilawe
4. ‘Ulilie
5. Pine Tree Slack Key
6. Auwe
7. Leahi
8. Hawaiian Skies
9. He’eia
10. ‘Ima Au Ia ‘Oe
11. Kaua ‘I Beauty
12. Hi’ilawe
13. Wai O Ke Aniani
14. Pua Hone
15. Hapuna Sunset
16. Deep In An Ancient Hawaiian Forest
17. Mom
18. Ka Mele Oku’u Pu ‘Uwai

****

5- The Help

One of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, The Help, will be remembered for its soundtrack, and in particular, “The Living Proof” by Mary J. Blige. Blige wrote and recorded the new and original song especially for The Help after she saw an advanced screening of the film. The soundtrack is without a doubt one of the best of the year, but it is also worth noting the original score from Thomas Newman which really helps set the tone for the pic; but like many of Thomas Newman’s other works, the score runs on the slightly more minimalist side, and aptly blends with  the classic melodies you hear. Running twelve tracks, The Help soundtrack is an excellent trip down memory lane featuring a great line up which includes Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Dorothy Norwood, The Orlons, Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples, Franki Valli and Chubby Checker.

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1. The Living Proof – Mary J. Blige
2. Jackson – Johnny Cash and June Carter
3. Sherry – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
4. I Ain’t Never – Webb Pierce
5. Victory is Mine – Dorothy Norwood
6. Road Runner – Bo Diddley
7. Hallelujah I Love Her So – Ray Charles
8. The Wah-Watusi – The Orlons
9. (You’ve Got) Personality – Lloyd Price
10. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right – Bob Dylan
11. Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker
12. Don’t Knock – Mavis Staples

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4- Beginners

I’m a man of all tastes – but all tastes good (or so I like to think). I love music of every genre but I have an especial fondness for classic tunes from the 40′s and 30′s. The presence of music should never come at the expense of the narrative and the absence of sound can speak volumes, as noted in the opening sequence of Beginners, which goes on to prove this point. What makes the Beginners soundtrack one of the best of the year is how effective the music is in creating a tone that sets the mood for the proceedings. With a soundtrack featuring artists such as Mamie Smith, Josephine Baker, and Jelly Roll Morton, the music is colored with sounds of a forgotten era that can never be matched. Spanning 12 tracks, the disc is a wonderful compilation to compliment the introspective and minimal score by Roger Neill, Dave Palmer and Brian Reitzell.

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1. Stardust (Hoagy Camichael)
2. Everything’s Made For Love (Gene Austin)
3. Bach Suite (David Palmer, Roger Neill, Brian Reitzell)
4. 1955 (David Palmer, Roger Neill, Brian Reitzell)
5. Sweet Jazz Music (Jelly Roll Morton)
6. That Da Da Strain (Mamie Smith)
7. Mamanita (Jelly Roll Morton)
8. Moon Waltz (David Palmer, Roger Neill, Brian Reitzell)
9. Veronica’s Blues (David Palmer, Roger Neill, Brian Reitzell)
10. Breezin’ Along with the Breeze (Josephine Baker)
11. Beginners Theme Suite (David Palmer, Roger Neill, Brian Reitzell)
12. Buddy Bertrand’s Blues (Jelly Roll Morton)

****

3- Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen’s love of classic jazz shows through in every single one of his films. Gathering an extensive selection of vintage big-band, swing, and hot jazz songs, we cannot ignore Allen’s masterful inclusion of timeless musical recordings across four decades of prolific filmmaking. His debt to jazz for making his movies even more memorable has been awarded many times over by introducing the musical genre to new generations of listeners. Ranging from artists such as Dooley Wilson, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey and so many more, music has always played an important characteristic in the director’s oeuvre.

I was told that there would be a soundtrack release for Allen’s Midnight In Paris, featuring all of the Cole Porter tracks heard in the film, but as far as I know, the only album released recently was a two disk set titled Woody Allen, from Manhattan to Midnight In Paris, a collection of 26 tunes from his movies. We all know it sometimes takes a very long time for the soundtracks to hit retail stores – if ever. They still haven’t released a soundtrack for Richard Kelly’s The Box, composed by Grammy Award winners Arcade Fire, but hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for the soundtrack to Midnight In Paris .

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Below is the track listing for the second disk in Woody Allen, from Manhattan to Midnight In Paris, but you can find a full list of the music featured in Allen’s 2011 hit, at this link.

1 Did I remember? – Billie Holiday
2 Cocktail For Two – Carmen Cavallaro
3 Out Of Nowhere – Coleman Hawkins – His All Stars
4 She’s Funny That Way – Erroll Garner
5 Whispering – Benny Goodman Quartet
6 Penthouse Serenade – Erroll Garner
7 That Jungle Jamboree – Duke Ellington – His Orchestra
8 All The Jazz Band Ball – Bix Beiderbecke – His Gang
9 In The Mood For Love – Erroll Garner
10 Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman – His Orchestra
11 Moonglow – Artie Shaw – His Orchestra
12 In The Mood – Glenn Miller – His 0rchestra
13 Begin The Biguine – Artie Shaw – His Orchestra
14 If You Are But A Dream – Frank Sinatra
15 South American Way – Carmen Miranda
16 I’ve Heard That Song Before – Harry James – His Orchestra
17 Cheek to cheek – Fred Astaire
18 Stardust – Louis Armstrong – His 0rchestra
19 I’ll See You In My Dreams – Django Reinhardt Trio
20 Rhapsody In Blue – Arturo Toscanini – NBC Symphony Orchetra

****

2- Bellflower

Singer/songwriter Jonathan Keevil is the man behind the soundtrack/score to one of Sound On Sight’s favourite films of 2011, Bellflower. The music – all original – ranges from emotional instrumentals like “Dreadnought Side Road” to acoustic ramblings as in “Fuuuuu.” Side A provides for a perfect late-night dive, while in contrast, side B consists largely of soundscapes created with atmospheric, distorted guitar, moody synths and mild bursts of percussion.

The official soundtrack released by Oscillope includes only the original music from Keevil, but there are plenty of tracks from some of our favourite artists featured throughout the film. Included are two tracks from Santigold (“My Superman” / “Lights Out”), “Running Up That Hill” by the Chromatics as well as the original version by Kate Bush, Bassnectar’s “Underwater” featuring Tina Malia, Lykke Li’s “Dance Dance Dance”, three tracks by Why (“Good Friday,” “By Torpedo Or Crohn’s,” “These Few Presidents”) and more.

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1 Bland

2 Blind, Deaf Too

3 Enough

4 Fuuuuu

5 Babyfin

6 Silk Road

7 Drive/Remove

8 Bracket Flower

9 At the End of the Moment

10 Dreadnought Side Road

11 Sinple

12 Dunes

Bonus Tracks – Songs featured in the movie but not on the soundtracks

Santigold – “My Superman”

Chromatics – “Running Up That Hill”

Kate Bush – “Running Up That Hill”

Bassnectar feat. Tina Malia – “Underwater”

Santigold – “Lights Out”

Lykke Li – “Dance Dance Dance”

Why? – “By Torpedo Or Crohn’s”

Why? – “These Few Presidents”

Lindbergh Palace – “Scary”

Southpaw Swagger – “Showdown”

Why? – “Good Friday”

Ratatat – “Shiller”

****

1- Drive

It’s no surprise that the soundtrack to Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive falls in first place.

Refn has created a moody neo noir that blew audiences away, ever since it premiered at Cannes. The soundtrack works well as an anchor point in creating a retro yet futuristic sound that cultivates the detached, lonely feel of the protagonist. Recalling the dark disco sound of the 70s and 80s, the soundtrack is a blend of electro synth instrumental soundscapes and 80′s Euro synth pop. The instrumental portions of the soundtrack are by drummer-turned-soundtrack maestro Cliff Martinez (once a member of Red Hot Chili Peppers). Aptly named “Kick Your Teeth” and “Skull Crushing,” these chilling tracks heard during the film’s darker moments are surprisingly minimal – brooding, moody, cerebral, gut wrenching – and reminiscent of John Carpenter’s throbbing, electronic soundtracks from the past. Highlights of the soundtrack include “Under Your Spell” by Desire and the album standout “A Real Hero,” by College and Electric Youth.

Add in the the atmospheric opening credits’ “Night Call” by Kavinsky (featuring sultry vocals from CSS’s Lovefoxxx), the tension-building, lyric-free “Tick of the Clock” from Portland band Chromatics, and the wonderfully incongruous torch song “Oh My Love” by Riziero Ortolani and Katyna Ranieri, and you have yourself one of the best collection of tunes assembled for any movie in quite some time.

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1. Night Call – Kavinsky
2. Tick of the Clock – Chromatics
3. Rubber Head – Cliff Martinez
4. I Drive – Cliff Martinez
5. He Had a Good Time – Cliff Martinez
6. They Broke His Pelvis – Cliff Martinez
7. Kick Your Teeth – Cliff Martinez
8. Where’s The Deluxe Version? – Cliff Martinez
9. See You in Four – Cliff Martinez
10. After The Chase – Cliff Martinez
11. Hammer – Cliff Martinez
12. Wrong Floor – Cliff Martinez
13. Skull Crushing – Cliff Martinez
14. My Name on a Car – Cliff Martinez
15. On The Beach – Cliff Martinez
16. Oh My Love – Riziero Ortolani & Rina Ranieri
17. Under Your Spell – Desire
18. A Real Hero – College feat. Electric Youth
19. Bride of Deluxe – Cliff Martinez

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By Ricky da Conceição

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast and I edit.

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12 Responses to Best Soundtracks Of 2011

  1. docweasel January 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    You have to have incredible vocal chops to cover Kate Bush. This girl fails miserably. I was watching the movie “Bellflower” and I recognize the lyrics slightly, but the melody was so off I couldn’t place the song, and I’ve heard it literally 100s of times. This is a shit version: listen to the original if you want to hear the actual melody and correct lyrics. Amazing the hubris of crappy bands like this, who think they can improve on genius. They can’t even do the song justice. Really lame.

    Reply
  2. SadPsycho December 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Missing Attack The Block’s OST but overall great list!

    Reply
  3. Martin December 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Good choice, glad you liked Bellflower OST. Another great songs were originally composed for Lucky Mckee´s horror The Woman . Higly recommend. It´s definitely in my top 10 too

    Reply
    • Ricky December 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      Holy Shit! How the hell did I forget about the soundtrack to The Woman – I need to update this list now! Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Anonymous December 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Great list, hope you guys like Bellflower. Another great soundtrack is for The Woman by Lucky Mckee, all songs originally composed for film

    Reply
  5. Small Town Zeros December 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Omission from the Bellflower score:

    “Secrets” by Small Town Zeros

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Best Soundtracks Of 2011 | Find the stream — Vind de stream

  7. Paolo December 5, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Yay for Beginners and Drive!

    And this list makes me wish that Bellflower’s still playing in Toronto.

    Reply
    • Ricky December 5, 2011 at 1:06 am

      Bellflower is out on DVD now!

      Reply
  8. Emily November 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Ha ! So funny. Nice reply Rick. God I hate trolls.

    There is a saying … the more intelligent you are, the more entrenched you are.

    Loving the list. Can’t wait for the movie score recommendations.

    Reply
  9. Ricky November 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Well Jeff, that is because this is a list of the best soundtracks of the year. I am currently writing a list of the best movie scores of 2011. There is a difference between the two sir.

    So next time you decide to be so incredibly rude, I suggest you think twice before leaving a nasty comment.

    Reply
  10. Jeff Swith November 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    erm this list doesn’t seem particularly representative of original film scores… any movie that has a crap load of previously available commercial music seems to be very popular, anything that has had a score uniquely crafted for it pretty much seems to be ignored..

    ..might work for a clueless broadsheet article but really not a very good sign for a magazine that is supposedly geared towards the more discerning film fan. Re-title the article it might be ok, otherwise kinda embarrassing for your magazine. The main gist i would take from this piece is ‘why the movie industry does not need specially composed scores any more’..

    .. how about a piece on the best pieces of stock footage in this years releases next?

    Reply

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