Ever since 1926, with Fleischer Studios’ attempt at synchronized sound with the little-known short “My Old Kentucky Home,” music and animation has gone hand-in-hand to entertain the masses. From comedy to action, music helps drive the story any animated piece is attempting to tell. Hello, my name is RacattackForce. Last time, I talked about some of my favorite television animation composers from 2000-onward. This week, however, is a bit of a joint project. With the help of the other “Scratch Pad” thinkers, I’ve come up with a list of some of OUR favorites. And the end of the list will be my 100% own personal choice, however, and it might surprise you. Let’s just jump in.
It’s hard to explain what makes Giacchino’s compositions so amazing. The man can mix and match the musical styles of various cultures. His music can hit you on an emotional level: make you feel energized, ready to take on the world. Or teary-eyed, wishing to comfort the sullen-faced person on the screen. Over his career so far, he has done music for several animated and live-action films. Michael Giacchino has also done work for J.J. Abrams, doing the soundtrack for such shows as Alias, Fringe, and Lost. Rest assured, there is a good chance of him lending his talent on another project in the near future. Check out this maestro’s work over here.
A good majority of animation fans know the name Hayao Miyazaki. But far fewer may recognize this man’s. From “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” to “Ponyo (on the Cliff by the Sea),” Joe Hisaishi has composed most (if not all) of Miyazaki’s films. Personally, I believe that those films wouldn’t have been so widely acclaimed if it wasn’t for the music. Music isn’t the most important thing in animation, but it can still make or break an animated tale. Hisaishi’s scores add more depth to these films, making them all the more engrossing and enjoyable. A film’s score should be able to drag a person in; help them to enjoy the experience and make them feel as if they are also a part of that fictional world. This man’s work does just that, and even though he has no music samples, you can check out his website here.
Nature. Exploration. Fantasy. Adventure. French composer Bruno Coulais manages to show all that, and more, in his compositions. They be dark and eerie, with bells and chimes mixing in with the otherworldly sounds of a synthesizer. But they can also be quite relaxing with violins or a cappella working to create a sweet melody. Coulais is relatively new to composing for animated pictures, the first to my knowledge being Henry Selick’s “Coraline.” I hope to hear more of his work in the future, because, quite simply, the music he produces is inspiring. The only soundtrack that can produce the same feelings I get from Coulais’s stuff is that of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” Take that as you will.
Some of you might be curious, and wonder why Daft Punk is in this article. After all, they only did the soundtrack to a single film: no more, no less. You readers may also be asking this: why aren’t there other bands that have done soundtracks for animated films on this list? Those are both good questions, and I have a single good answer. “Interstella 555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem” was the film that made me realize how important music is in animation and other mediums. I’ll go deeper into how it did that, and my feelings on movie/television soundtracks as a whole in my “final” music post. But for now, I’ll just say that the music for 5555 was so amazing and helped drive the story so well, that there was no way I couldn’t put the duo on this list. Listen to their works here.