Why I Love Listening to Movie Scores

by Abby Brockway on March 16, 2023


And Why You Should, Too

I have many guilty pleasures, but my longest-held is that I am chronically obsessed with listening to movie scores. My previous Spotify Wrappeds have reflected this obsession, and recently, my featured artists were composers John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Bear McCreary, and Rachel Portman. I listen to my Spotify curated movie score mix constantly: when I cook, clean my apartment, walk to class, shower, and do homework. 20-year-old college students are typically more in touch with pop, rap, and country artists. Yet, I find indescribable comfort, nostalgia, and peace when I listen to my cherished mixes, and you should consider adding movie scores to your regular rotation of genres.

I find comfort and nostalgia in listening to movie scores because it feels like I’m rewatching my favorite movies. With movie scores, I can experience the comfort and nostalgia I usually feel when watching my favorite flicks, but I don’t have to dedicate hours and my undivided attention.

Many tracks on movie scores are either character  themes or are titled referring to dialogue from its particular scene. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a perfect example. Almost every track on the five albums from all installments features these types of titled tracks, as opposed to some albums that read “Prologue, Scene 1, 2, etc.” “Jack Sparrow” features Sparrow’s easily recognizable character theme, packed with fast-paced violin, drums, and guitar sequences that perfectly embody the adventurous and spontaneous pirate. “Davy Jones” is the musical theme attached to the main villain in the franchise. It interestingly features a soft piano motif that contrasts with Jones’ evil character, which is then followed by booming organs and wind instruments. Finally, my favorite track, “I Don’t Think Now is the Best Time, is taken verbatim from Elizabeth Swan’s dialogue in the third movie, At World’s End. Elizabeth and the pirates of the Brethren Court battle with Jones’ sea creature-human hybrid pirates. Elizabeth’s love interest Will Turner suggests they get married amid the chaos, to which Elizabeth ironically responds, “I don’t think now is the best time!” When I listen to these tracks, I can visualize the characters and the particular scenes so clearly that it feels like I’m watching the movie again.

Another benefit of movie scores is that they can alter and influence your mood. When I listen to my movie scores, I play songs that I know will make me feel a sort of way. I sometimes walk a little faster to class if I listen to the score from an intense battle scene, or I find myself more mellow and slow-moving when listening to a soft love theme. When I need to get motivated for an exam or to complete household chores, I go to specific songs, and when I need to cool down and relax, I go to different tracks. The beauty of all music is that it persuades you to feel a certain way—movie scores included. They are the quintessential soundtrack. If you’ve seen a movie, I can promise you an album including its score exists somewhere on Spotify or Apple Music.  

So I encourage you, if you have a favorite movie or TV show, to listen to its score the next time you’re doing homework, mindless house chores, or need a nostalgia boost. If you’re drawing a blank and need some suggestions, here are some of my, and the rest of the world’s, most favorite and easily recognizable movie scores and suites: the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (“One Day”), the Harry Potter franchise (“Dumbledore’s Farewell, Battlefield”), Hook (“Prologue”), Pride and Prejudice (“Your Hands Are Cold”), Outlander (“Fallen Through Time”), Titanic (“The Portrait”), Star Wars (“The Imperial March”), UP (“Married Life”), The Lion King (“Under the Stars”), and Forrest Gump (“I’m Forrest… Forrest Gump”).