Monday, July 15, 2024

The 5 Most Underrated Film Soundtracks Of The 21st Century

By Tilda Elliott 

​A soundtrack can make or break any film. From big-budget Hollywood movies to independent film productions, the video aspect of any film can only be as effective and impactful as the audio aspect allows it to be.

While there are many film soundtracks that have been rightly recognized for marrying these two key aspects of cinema, there are many more that have been underrated or totally ignored. So, here are five of the most brilliant and underrated film soundtracks of the current century.

​20th Century Women (2016)

This film follows the struggle of a makeshift family headed by Dorothea, a single mother who’s struggling to find a place for her family in Santa Barbara in 1979. Set during the peak years of the West Coast punk scene, “20th Century Women” is one of those films in which the soundtrack practically has the same impact as the dialogue. By acquainting herself with the Big Muff fuzz effect-driven riffs and rebellious lyrics of the song I’ve Had It by Black Flag, Dorothea attempts to better understand his son’s unsaid struggles. Peppered with other punk gems like The Clash’s (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais, The Raincoats’ Fairytale in the Supermarket, and the political art-pop song Don’t Worry About the Government by Talking Heads, the “20th Century Womensoundtrack is a modern-day love letter to the roots of punk.

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

This film tells the story of a damaged war veteran named Joe, whose propensity for skillful violence is put to good use in his job of finding missing girls and dealing with the perpetrators. The producers couldn’t have found a better film score composer than Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, whose skills with electronic music and guitar effects are perfectly in tune with the movie’s themes of duty, love, fear, and humanity. In the song Sandy’s Necklace, Greenwood uses the Boss OD-3 overdrive pedal and its warm crunchy tones guide listeners through a poignant, dissonant, and uncomfortable journey. In Nausea, the award-winning musician ditches the strings to flex his electronic skills in a seductively syncopated house beat. The entire soundtrack of “You Were Never Really Here” is a genre-hopping display of Greenwood’s seminal talents as one of the brains behind Radiohead’s evolution.

Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (2005)

Even hip hop heads sometimes forget how good of a rapper 50 Cent was and still is. The 16-song soundtrack to “Get Rich or Die Tryin” in which 50 Cent raps in 12 of the tracks is a stark reminder of how the then-newly minted G-Unit frontman is a seminal force in post-1990s hip hop. And indeed, the most notable tracks are Hustler’s Ambition and Window Shopper, which are arguably some of the best singles in the rapper’s career. Meanwhile, in I Don’t Know Officer, 50 Cent teams up with other big names like Lloyd Banks, Spider Loc, and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. If you’re on the lookout for old-school gangster rap tracks you’ve probably never listened to before, check out this heavy-hitting soundtrack.

Frances Ha (2012)

The word that best describes the soundtrack for “Frances Ha” is eclectic, which also describes the film’s portrayal of France herself. There are the catchy drums and songwriting in David Bowie’s seminal pop song Modern Love, the funky effects-heavy bass riffs on Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s a Winner, and the delicate works by French composers Georges Delerue and Antoine Duhamel. Somehow, this mixed, genre-blended list of songs perfectly encapsulates the filmmaker’s intentions in the monochrome dramedy that is “Frances Ha,” a showcase of the duality of France as a modern city coming to terms with its shifting identity.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

While this film was heavily criticized for its light, pop music video-inspired treatment, it was precisely that element which allowed filmmaker Sofia Coppola to convincingly tell the story of “Marie Antoinette” in a way that’s relatable for the new generation. Through the piano-driven seminal pop sounds of Siouxsie & the Banshees’ Hong Kong Garden, The Strokes’ aggressive overdrive guitar-led pop-rock in What Ever Happened, and Bow Wow Wow’s version of the sickly-pop hit song I Want Candy, Coppola has curated a soundtrack that’s arguably better and more crucial than many of the other key elements in her film.

What are some of your favorite underrated film soundtracks of the current century? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

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