21st Century Soundtracks #2: The Social Network

21st Century Soundtracks is about music in Film, Television, and Video Games released from 2000 onwards that have had a lasting effect on me. It started out as one long post that eventually became too long to be manageable, so I’ve decided to make it a semi-regular series. Open to recommendations and reminders.


In 2011, both the Oscars and the Golden Globes did something right for a change – they awarded Best Original Score to Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross for their amazing work on The Social Network. Part of the reason why the score works is because of the freedom director David Fincher gave them. Reznor recalls that even their initial ideas received very few notes; Fincher simply told them “I don’t have anything bad to say– that’s never happened before”. To set them along the right path, the director did provide some general direction for the duo to launch off from:

“David wanted something that had electronic leanings and was a bit iconic. He referenced things from Tron, Blade Runner, and talked about a Tangerine Dream-ish kind of sound. Something that would feel like it had a uniqueness and a presence in the film”

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21st Century Soundtracks #1: Mulholland Drive

21st Century Soundtracks is about music in Film, Television, and Video Games released from 2000 onwards that have had a lasting effect on me. It started out as one long post that eventually became too long to be manageable, so I’ve decided to make it a semi-regular series. Open to recommendations and reminders.


Thank the heavens filmmaker David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti came together for Blue Velvet in 1986. Ever since then, Lynch’s images have been complimented by rich, beautiful and strange scores that enhance the experience, often taking it to another place entirely.

Jitterbug kicks the album and the film off with fast swing music, set to the opening dance sequence. It starts what will be an ongoing motif of the film, and something Lynch has been doing since Blue Velvet – playing music, whether it’s original to the movie or not, through his own particular lens. In this case sweet and innocent memories are turned into something else, Lynch and Badalamenti craft a scene of anxiety and stress out of what is typically pure and happy. The director has always been hands-on with the music in his films, from the soundscapes of sound designer Alan Splet earlier in his career to Badalamenti’s gorgeous scores; so that each song weaves into the scene’s own thematic and emotional concerns.

The album defiantly refuses to sound like it was made in 2001. The title track, and several others, instead borrow the synth of early 80s cinema, while echoing the more traditional classical instrumental music that was prevalent in early Hollywood pictures. These epic and often triumphant notes are slowed down to a lethargic and unnerving pace, as if pulling us into a dream-like state. The midway segue in Mr. Roque/Betty’s Theme, as the name suggests to those who have seen the intensely dark film, transitions from the ominous powers at work to the pure optimism of Betty as she arrives in Los Angeles. The contrast is brought to our attention again towards its close, as it creeps back into a reprise of the main theme, twisting in and out of fear and hope, an auditory expression of this inward battle. Continue reading →