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From Birds of Prey to Cats: 4 Movie Soundtracks That Made Their Mark in 2020

Frankly, 2020 hasn’t seemed like the year for movies, but with most of us still exercising a stay-at-home order, binging everything on Netflix has become the new normal for most to help pass the time. Movies can totally teleport us from our couches, beds, floors into new worlds, full of fantasy, excitement, and more.

Marking musical scores within movies has always felt special to our mood and feelings, enhancing the experience of a scene or comment on the action. In some circumstances, they are just as important as the acting plot itself. Producers and directors know that only using specific instruments, melodies, and sound design can drive the movie’s storyline, evoke emotions to propel a scene or motivate forward.

The inclusion of unique musical elements as a tool to enhance a story in audio-visual projects has led the industry of sound and audio post-production to a whole new level in terms of experimentation.

Most of these movies use songs that are already written, while many utilized musicians to create personalized music just for the movie, which is important for any good soundtracks. Below, you can find our pick of 8 movies with the best soundtracks in 2020. We hope they’re going to cheer the mood or at least relieve some of the season’s blues.

1.      Birds of Prey

This movie tells the story of Harley Quinn, the love of the legendary villain The Joker – portrayed by tremendous Margot Robie – the best enactment of Harleen Quinzel yet so far, according to all viewers and critics of the world. She did so great in the role that she would be playing Harley Quin again next year (if the pandemic allows) in the Suicide Squad reboot.

Its soundtrack showcases different artists, which the director Cathy Yan superficially selected to help her build the character and their personas. The movie’s title is a go-getter, and much of the movies’ soundtracks display and demonstrate her motivation.

The scores also help the audience better see things through the character’s eyes in a way, which is exactly what Atlantic Records and the production team worked towards creating the ensemble of songs and artists. The movie’s soundtrack album was released on February 14, 2020, and it brings over 28 songs, out of which most prominent artists contributed to this album. Not to mention the fact that the album is an all-female line-up of artists, which pays to the tremendous sense of girl power showcased throughout the movie.

2.      Sonic The Hedgehog

A much-adored family movie, this film displays eclectic soundtracks that mix both original pieces created by Tom Holkenborg (also known as Junkie XL) with famous hits to give various scenes an edge and generate familiarity and fun.

Sonic The Hedgehog has a lot of upbeat rhythms from Junkie XL composition that is fast-paced to suit Sonic’s outstanding superpower of speed, giving the viewers the sense of “running” alongside. No film about a video game would be complete without a juicy soundtrack to go along with it. The whole set of instrumental pieces, like those on Melody Loops, are written by Junkie XL, but when it comes to non-instrumental it’s possible to find here: Queen with “Don’t Stop Me Now,” Ramones with “Blitzkrieg Bop,” Michael Jackson with “Speed Demon,” Coolio with, probably his only best-known “Gangsta’s Paradise and Wiz Khalifa with “Speed Me Up.”

3.      Trolls World Tour

Another film that was savored by countless kids and their families during lockdowns this year was Trolls World Tour. The soundtracks from the first Trolls film sparked mega hits, so it was no surprise to have a sequel with the return of the stars Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Timberlake not only repeated his voice role as Branch but also worked as an executive producer for the soundtrack. Justin created soundtracks specifically for the movie to give it originality, and it really paid. It helps that the movie’s narrative focuses on different types of music from Trolls around the world, so the creators had to play with various genres, including techno, pop, funk, country, and rock.

Original music will always set a film apart. If the film showcases songs that aren’t used anywhere else, they have more creative freedom to come up with a song that perfectly suits viewers, and viewers will permanently associate the new track with the film. Oftentimes a specific part of the movie or a scene just needs the right piano strike, or the good rhythm, that only a custom score would do at the moment. Most companies commission this service, giving musicians their first big break while simultaneously pushing moviemakers to bring their movies to life.

4.      Cats

Although the movie is considered a huge flop among movie connoisseurs, it does feature plenty of well-known musicians and musically talented actors, including Rebel Wilson, Jason Derulo, and James Corden. For those of you who haven’t yet seen the award-winning Broadway play, here are the primes. The story is based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats By T.S Eliot – it reimagines the Andrew Lloyd Webber show for a new generation with modern technology, stunning production design, and dance styles ranging from hip-hop to jazz, classical ballet to contemporary, street to dance tap.

The movie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Yet the music is delightful, and the visuals are terrifying and memorable, so if you enjoy a stage show, we’d be willing to bet you’ll enjoy this movie.

The biggest shock was probably Taylor Swift, who can only be heard once within the movie, yet the style differs from her regular music-type because she delivers a poignant cat-like but alluring performance. Taylor’s song, “Beautiful Ghosts,” did win great praise and award nods – even when the movie itself did not. It’s a true bummer that Taylor Swift only appears in the piece for a short time. Though the film itself has a rushed and uneven structure, the music still makes its mark.

Photo by Marques Kaspbrak on Unsplash

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