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Ten best soundtrack cues of 2013

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Here is a look back at some of the most moving, magical, and exciting moments in film music for 2013.

“Writing to Mama” by John Williams
From “The Book Thief”
Soundtrack album available from Sony Classical

It is inconceivable that John Williams could get any better—and yet—with each new score, he does just that. “The Book Thief” is John Williams at his deepest and most precise as he takes us on a musical journey of mystery and melancholy. “Writing to Mama” is a haunting, deeply affecting cue that brings to mind parts of “The Accidental Tourist” (1988) and “Seven Years in Tibet” (1997).
“The Book Thief” is by far the best original score of 2013. Nothing, with the lone exception of Howard Shore’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is even in the same artistic universe.

“Feast of Starlight” by Howard Shore
From “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
Soundtrack album available from Reprise Records and WEA International in two-disc standard and deluxe versions.

This ethereal, transporting cue is reminiscent of the epic, soul-stirring music from “The Two Towers”. There is a captivating choir soloist and two new themes including one for the blossoming romance between Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) and Kili (Aidan Turner). As a bonus we even get a brief tease of Gollum’s theme in this gorgeous cue.

“For the First Time in Forever” performed by Kristen Bell
Music by Robert Lopez
Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez
From “Frozen”
Soundtrack available from Walt Disney Records

“Frozen” recaptures some of that Disney magic from the early 1990s resurgence and “For the First Time in Forever” is the best animated movie song not written by Alan Menken since “The Lion King”

“The Book Thief” by John Williams
From “The Book Thief”
Soundtrack album available from Sony Classical

This is the end credits reprise, seven minutes and five seconds of utter musical heaven as the maestro wields his emotional wand capturing out imaginations, our souls—and most of all—our hearts in yet another wondrous journey of artistic perfection.

“Buying the Space Farm” by Michael Giacchino
From “Star Trek: Into Darkness”
Soundtrack album available from Varese Sarabande

This is the moving music from the emotional “needs of the many” scene. Michael Giacchino writes the best sad music of any living composer. While this cue is not as powerful as “Labor of Love” from the first film or “A Change of Heart” from “John Carter”, it will get to you.

“Solomon” by Hans Zimmer
From “12 Years a Slave
Track is available from Columbia records on one of those insipid “Music from and inspired by” soundtrack releases. The score itself is unreleased (as of this writing).

“Solomon” is a gorgeous cue reminiscent of the composer’s great work on “The Thin Red Line” (1998) and “The Last Samurai” (2005), and a reminder Zimmer can excel at serious films when given the chance.

“Perversions and Diversions” by Pino Donaggio
From “Passion”
Soundtrack available on Quartet Records

Nobody utilizes film music better that director Brian De Palma and the De Palma/Donaggio tandem is one of the all-time greatest composer/director partnerships—resulting in such classic scores as Carrie and Dressed to Kill. Okay, maybe the film is not quite up there with the De Palma classics of a generation ago, but it is a beautifully shot guilty pleasure and the sensational score by Pino Donaggio has shades of “Body Double” (1984), one of my favorite scores of all time.

“The San Fran Hustle” by Michael Giacchino
From “Star Trek: Into Darkness”
Soundtrack album available from Varese Sarabande

A frenetic, wickedly exciting old-school muscular action based clip that pays homage to Jerry Goldsmith, the music from the classic series, and yet it still pure Giacchino.

“What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World”
From “Man of Steel
Soundtrack available from Water Tower Music

“Man of Steel” was on its way to becoming a classic until the last forty-five minutes of over-directed, repetitive scenes of noisy mayhem. But still, there is so much to love about this film; the Krypton scenes, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, and Henry Cavill. Hans Zimmer effectively captured the heart of the film and his score plays beautifully as a stand-alone listen.

“The Forest River” by Howard Shore
From “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
Soundtrack album available from Reprise Records and WEA International in two-disc standard and deluxe versions.

This is the music used to score the wildly entertaining and beautifully choreagraphed barrels in the rapids scene. It is a thunderous, expertly crafted, ridiculously exciting piece of epic action music. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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