Welcome to The Holiday Gift Guide, our yearly stroll through all the things you absolutely should have on your Christmas list this year. To begin, we encourage you to strap on your little, tiny headphones, and get ready for more giving suggestions from your favorite Rejects. Do you have a friend or family member on your Christmas list that always has their fingers on the pulse of the music scene, making buying them anything music-related nearly impossible? Have no fear – I turned to the silver screen to find music they may not have heard from movies they might also enjoy. And, as has been the trend lately with popular artists starting to compose for film, I rounded up some current composers and the bands you may not know they started out in. Plus a few artists you may not know who have begun composing for films.
This list features movies that came out this year with kick-ass soundtracks as well as albums from artists-turned-composers. If you have someone in your life that is a music lover and into movies, then this is the list for you. And if you are that person, this list may give you some ideas of what to include on your own wish list.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, but merely suggestions to help inspire ideas and give you a jumping off point. And if there is a great suggestion I overlooked, feel free to sound off in the comments and let our readers know what I may have missed!
For the Electronically Inclined – Hanna
For a story of a young girl living in the snow-covered woods with her father, The Chemical Brothers would probably not be the first group to come to mind when viewing the seemingly scenic surroundings. But the juxtaposition of the electronic duo against such as a background as we learn that innocent-looking Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is anything but works perfectly and literally electrifies every scene in the film.
For the ‘80s Fan – Drive
From Halloween costumes inspired by Driver (Ryan Gosling) to the unshakeable images of the film, Drive made an impression on movie goers this year and one of the things that helped shape director Nicolas Winding Refn’s specific world was the music. From the synth-styled score from composer Cliff Martinez to the ‘80s style pop songs from Kravinsky, College, and Desire, I dare anyone to watch this movie and not need to own the soundtrack immediately afterwards.
For the Alt-Rock/Gosling Obsessed –Blue Valentine
It truly was the year of the Gosling and while this particular film came out at the tail end of last year, the soundtrack dropped this January. Anyone who is a fan of Grizzly Bear should enjoy hearing the band’s songs (which are placed throughout the film) and also populate the majority of the tracks on the soundtrack. Although there is no new music here, the soundtrack does boast instrumental versions of these tracks and features the Mr. Gosling’s ukulele version of “You Always Hurt The Ones You Love” as well.
For the International House Partier – Attack the Block
What would you do if a group of large, dark as night alien creatures descended on your block intent on killing you and your friends? Well – run. And then probably fight. Attack the Block combines comedy, action, and horror for an already entertaining film made even more so by the pulsating score provided by British electronic dance duo Basement Jaxx. Watch as Moses (John Boyega – keep your eye on this one) and his friends try to outsmart, outrun, and outwit these unwanted visitors set to electronica that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Attack the Block will make you jump, laugh and give you a whole new batch of catchy quotes. Believe, bruv.
For the Nostalgic with a Country Twang – Footloose
I know, I know, how dare I, but here me out first. I am a big fan of the original Footloose (and Kevin Bacon in all his six degree glory) and I was hesitant and skeptical about this “re-make” starring two dancers (a move Center Stage proved doesn’t not always fare well), but despite all my hang-ups, this movie simply entertained me. The updated music and dance routines worked and Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough turned in decent performances (even when they weren’t on the dance floor.) From Blake Shelton’s version of “Footloose” to Big & Rich’s “Fake ID” and a slowed down version of “Holding Out For A Hero” by Ella Mae Bowen, this soundtrack (and movie) ended up putting a nice modern spin on this ‘80s classic.
For the Classical Music Fan – The Artist
Seeing as silent films are all about the music, composer Ludovic Bource created a comprehensive score that rivals any released back during the silent film era. The film shows how featuring music (in place of talking) can create an incredibly magical experience at the theater and both the film and the soundtrack should charm any music lover.
For the Jason Segel in Your Life – “The Green Album”
As I touched on in our Guide to the Muppets, the Muppets are all about the music and have covered songs from artists like CeeLo, Nirvana, the Beach Boys, and Queen. But along with the film’s soundtrack, a bunch of artists from OK Go to My Morning Jacket to The Airborne Toxic Event and Rachael Yamagata came together to cover some Muppet favorites like “Rainbow Connection,” “Mahna Mahna” and “Bein’ Green.” If you liked The Muppets, check out this additional compilation album.
For the Aspiring Drummer
Best known for his scores for Drive and Contagion, Cliff Martinez used to rock the drumsticks for Red Hot Chili Peppers before a took up the conductor’s baton. You can check out his skills the Chili Peppers’ first two albums, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Freaky Styley.
For the Songwriter
Johnny Greenwood popped up on the film scene when he composed the music for There Will Be Blood, but as the younger brother of Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood, Johnny, actually helped write the music for various songs on Radiohead’s albums OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief. If you were a fan of Greenwood’s work on Blood, you should take a listen to his tracks on these albums.
For the Alt-Rock Fan
Composer Clint Mansell actually got his start as the lead singer and guitarist for the British alternative rock band Pop Will Eat Itself and sang background vocals on Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. Mansell took that rock experience and has infused it into the scores he created for films such as Requiem for a Dream, Smokin’ Aces and last year’s Black Swan. If you were a fan of his work on those films, you will want to check out his early rock work too.
For the Garageband/Pro-Tools Obsessed
LA based producers The Dust Brothers not only created the soundtrack for Fight Club, but the duo also produced Beck’s Odelay and contributed music to Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique album. Grab a bar of soap and hear how their electronic style, which gave Fight Club its distinctive sound, worked to influence these particular albums as well.
For the Hip-Hop Fan
You might be most familiar with RZA as a member of The Wu-Tang Clan, but as an accomplished musician and producer in his own right, RZA has also been making a name for himself in the film composing world. Check out his work on the soundtracks for films such as Kill Bill Volume 1, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and Blade: Trinity.
For the Triple Threat (Comedian, Rapper, Actor) – “Camp” by Childish Gambino
I know this isn’t technically movie related, but I had to include Donald Glover’s hip-hop album that dropped last month and proved Glover is not just a skilled comedian (as proven each week on Community), but he is also an impressive rap artist that can (and probably is) giving some of the genres top lyricists a run for their money. If you have a friend that is a fan of hip-hop or Community or just Glover in general, this should be a sure fire hit.
Time to hit the play button and get to shopping! Also, keep an eye out for the rest of our holiday guide throughout the rest of this week.