How important is a film’s soundtrack? Matching songs to a film shouldn‘t merely be a matter of plundering the latest indie pop tracks. No, successful soundtracks are eclectic and avoid clichés. These are basically ‘Movie Moments” where no other song could have captured the moment like these did. Below are Japan Cinema’s picks for best Asian film soundtracks. Kicking off the list with number 10:
Greenwood (formally noted for such scores as There Will Be Blood) approaches the score with sincerity. Greenwood wrote all of the Japanese-titled songs, while the three English ones are by German Krautrock pioneers Can. Divorced from the listing itself, the song is a drug-infused lullaby of sexually evocative guitars and singer Damo Suzuki’s bluesy vocals.
With a pounding rock soundtrack from Japanese punkers Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, Blue Spring, has a great score. Toyoda makes such good use of this technique that it is hardly noticed. Including Thee Michelle Gun Elephant tracks in the soundtrack definitely added to the experience, it made such an impact on one of my friends that he ended up buying one of their albums – even though he can’t understand them.
Concerning the style there is a lot of different stuff to be discovered here, from tranquil piano pieces to waltz-like tunes and more action-loaden tracks that are standing out with their great beat and spanish guitar sounds. Japanese classic composer Yuhki Kuramoto has been perpetuated on the CD with his work “Romance”. A very tranquil and bittersweet track, which has been a very good choice for the OST, as it also fits very well into the rest of the CD. A tragic song, that is accompanied by a piano and which motif comes through the speakers beautifully played by strings and later on a cello. Goosebumps are guaranteed.
Someone watching this mentioned how great the soundtrack is which adds a whole other level and really establishes pace, mood, and atmosphere throughout. A key reminding us of the value of a dream and how far would you go to fulfill it? This one asks questions, has fun moments, and really touching ones. It’s all done so creatively that you come along for the journey and find out it’s all worth it. The attached song below, this scene, where she is riding through time, is one of the best scene’s in the movie. It really gives a feel for the story.
Sakamoto, who was in the now-legendary New Wave/synth group Yellow Magic Orchestra, composed and performed the entire evocative score. Addtionally, Sakamoto starred as a Japanese POW camp commandant, along with British POW’s Tom Conti and David Bowie. The collaboration with Sylvian is one of many: Bamboo Music/Bamboo Houses and Sylvian’s first 3 solo albums — all amazing when Sakamoto adds his unique keyboard touches. “Forbidden Colors” stands away from the rest of the album, I think, a wonderful song, one of my favorites.
One must also remember that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is Asia’s most prominent international export, and one of the first to be globally recognized. Tan Dun’s “Hero” already suffers a bias in that to most, the different nuances in cultural music is overshadowed by it’s lone representation of the asian soundtrack music genre. The instrumental work of Itzhak Perlman is, as always, a world class musician’s touch to an exotic canvas. The use of traditional drumming and oriental instrumentation in combination with symphonic vocals is absolutely breath taking.
The soundtrack of Lily Chou-Chou was written and arranged by Takeshi Kobayashi, with vocals by the singer Salyu. It features a number of songs that are sung by the fictional rock star Lily Chou-Chou in the film. The soundtrack also makes heavy use of the classical music of Claude Debussy. Very haunting music that will be with you far after you turn the film off.
The purpose of a film score is to convey the mood of the particular sequence in the film. Nobody does this better than Hisaishi, and his score of “Spirited Away” is no exception. The music blends in so perfectly with the action that you hardly notice it, but you know that once it’s gone, or replaced with punk rock, then the entire scene becomes completely different. However, good scores don’t just convey mood perfectly, but they must also be good enough to stand alone. This is where Hisaishi’s score comes alive. Its opening song, “One Summer Day” begins with a tune that is slow and soft, yet powerful enough to coax tears from the emotional. Unlike some of Hisaishi’s other soundtracks (“Mononoke”, “Laputa”, for example), “Spirited Away” doesn’t have many solid, strong themes recurring throughout the movie. It has individual pieces, with a few themes here and there, but all in all the music is meant to create a mood rather than explain what is happening in the movie. Each individual song is beautiful, charming, emotional, and a wonderful listen.
Sometimes, while watching a movie, there is a perfect union of story, ambiance, and emotion. Not ordinary emotion, rather an emotion so strong that it causes an incredible riot in the heart and feelings come to the surface that the person never dreamed were there. Often it is the musical score that joins the storyline with the acting that makes this happen. In Departures, this is exactly the case. At times wistful and sad this music captures you when you least expect it. The grand orchestral tracks are the most powerful in their beauty and depth and overwhelm you. You know immediately every emotion Mr. Hisaishi felt while composing this score.
Below you will see how to effective weave a soundtrack into a film. Instead of explaining it, i’ll let the video do the talking: