In no particular order these are, in our opinion FIVE of the best alternative soundtracks from TV and film that are every bit as good as, if not better than the film or TV program from which they have come. Maybe they will stir something in you emotionally, maybe they won’t, but if you are any kind of a fan of these film and tv series, and haven’t yet sat down to appreciate the music behind them, any one of these soundtracks are highly recommended. Happy Listening!
Stranger Things Score by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
It came to our Netflix screens in July 2016 and was an instant classic. Set in the 80’s, a time of cliché genre sci-fi, fantasy and horror films, and the birth of the loveable geek and nerd, there isn’t much about this fantastic drama series that can’t be loved. The sound track is the same.
This is an alternative music genre of synthesised themes, including the iconic main theme and has been composed by genius musical maestros Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.
If you have watched and fallen in love with the story and characters, listening to this will take you right back. This is an impressive album, looking at the album artwork alone evokes nostalgia of the classic 1980s film and TV where the series draws heavy inspiration, and we here at curious cyborg would whole-heartedly recommend this as one of those albums to either listen to on your own, in a dark room lying on a comfy sofa, or if that’s not possible through a decent pair of headphones.
The best things about these albums is that, so far, they keep coming. With each new series a new album has been released, and they are all just as good as the original volume 1 and volume 2 from series 1.
Series 2 builds on the strong themes of the first, whilst the Series 3 album has probably the most impactful emotional score yet, and if you have watched all 3 series you will know exactly what we mean. No spoilers here! 😉
A special Halloween Sounds Stranger Things soundtrack is available to, if you want something extra creepy to listen to! With Season 4 on the way this cyborg can’t wait to see (and hear) what’s in store in this amazing series!
Our favourite way to listen to these is on their vinyl pressings, as these have been engineered masterfully. The artwork is beautiful, and the vinyls themselves are all limited edition coloured pressings on 180g vinyl. If you are an avid record collector then adding these to your collection really is a no-brainer if you like that sort of thing!
Lord of The Rings by Howard Shore
These films came out when we were finishing High School, and was the obsession of every geek and nerd, especially those of us who had fallen in love with the books.
Honestly, if we weren’t talking about the latest of the trilogy that had been released in cinemas we were probably listening to this on our Walkmans (yes even cassettes were still around when this first came out, and I had copied my CD to a my minidisk and a cassette because i wanted to “Future Proof” my music collection! Haha! ).
Today the MP3 stream is king, and I can no longer play my still intact minidisks or casettes because both my Walkmans have either broken or have been lost! :-(… though i can still play the CDs on my blu-ray player!
The main theme “Concerning Hobbits” is what everyone will immediately recognise, but for our money the thunderous themes in the Two Towers portion when all the battles begin are what gets our blood running. There are also the beautiful themes from the the third installment Return of the King, Billy Boyd’s wonderful “Steward of Gondor” and Annie Lennox’s “Into the West” are particular favourites.
Whenever you feel a longing for the films (or the books for that matter) but find yourself short of time (or commitment, because let’s face the books and the films are true commitments of time) the soundtrack I find brings the best without the rest. Whether you are on a long journey, commute or going simply going about your daily business, if you have a pair of headphones and love these films, do yourself a favour and set this on your stream! The physical copies are good to own to!
Blade Runner by Vangelis
Vangelis may be most noted for his work on sound tracks such as Chariots of fire or 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and that is is due in part to the delayed release of this truly epic score some 12 years after its initial recording.
Blade Runner hit the theatres in June 1982, but it wasn’t until June 1994 that an official release of the soundtrack was made available. Like the film with its now seemingly countless different cuts the soundtrack either officially or unofficially had different “versions”. Some were official, like this one or the 25th Anniversary edition, but some were unofficial or bootlegged.
Listening to the official Vangelis version is almost like closing your eyes and imagining the film playing in the background, but what one would almost call a “Vangelis” cut. Vangelis uses dialogue from the film to enhance and lift score as a whole. The prominent characters you hear are of course Rick Deckard, Rachael and Roy Batty.
Roy’s speech at the end of the film as he lies dying in the rain on the roof top is probably one of the stand out pieces that gives way to the track “Tears in Rain”, a short track, but typical and a showcase of what Vangelis does best, evoking emotion through music.
I think what stands out to us about this album is the use of synthesisers. Most other composers will use solely classical arrangements of instruments, orchestras, Pianos, guitars etc., but Vangelis was not afraid to experiment and mix sounds, making this (and other works of his) truly unique.
Interstellar by Hans Zimmer
No list of “Best Film Music” would be complete without an entry from Hans Zimmer. To tell the truth, that could be a list all on its own! Choosing just one (so as to be fair to other composers) was difficult, with the soundtrack for the new adaptation of Dune by Director and producer Denis Villeneuve a high contender.
Interstellar, like other films by Christopher Nolan, plays with big themes of time, space and the connection of those elements to the soul. This score plays with sweeping and rolling crescendos that almost make you feel cold and alone, very much like the protagonists of the film as they orbit the black hole. A good piece of film music should do that, invoke memories and feelings in the film – if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy then we think the film would be lost on everyone, but if anything this score sells the emotional backdrop to the film, and therefore the story to.
This soundtrack will grow on you, and we can’t imagine a “classical sleepy time” playlist on your favourite smart speaker without it, it really is one of those pieces of music to get lost in!
The Expanse by Clinton Shorter
One of two TV soundtracks on this list, and for good reason. The Expanse, a not too distant political Sci-Fi drama has been described by many as the most accurate portrayal of what life would be like in outer space to have ever graced our screens. It is based on a a series of novels of the same name by authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank.
I don’t want to make this a review of the TV series, or indeed the excellent books on which they are based, I think like Lord of The Rings, above, each of these media formats stand on their own. It is the case with this score to. If you want to get lost in music and “veg out” to music this is a terrific candidate.
If you are a fan of the show, season 1, track 1 is of course the opening credits score. The opening credits of the Expanse is a sped-up montage of humanity’s journey from the world we know today to the colonisation of the solar system, the score perfectly matching the imagery on screen.
For us, the score for season 1 remains the strongest, with the tracks “Remember the Cant” and “Life” being particularly memorable, especially when you know the show. Season 1 is very much like a detective thriller and the score plays well at following one of our lead characters “Joe Miller”. Season 2 of the show is where everything starts to become super-interesting, and the score ramps up a gear also.
Crucially, like the Stranger Things scores above each new TV series (up to Season 4) have been met with a new score release, with rumours season 5 and 6 may be on their way.
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