““What sort of music do you like?” For as long as I can remember I’ve dreaded people asking me that question. So many dates with so many women went so terribly wrong as I struggled to find a convenient way to frame my rather eclectic musical tastes. Eventually, an education in classic rock gave me a socially acceptable answer to that oh so troublesome question. The reality, however, is that I’m a giant nerd, and appropriately I like nerdy music. To that end I have assembled a wish list album that I am going to call “Essential Genre Music Vol. 1”
Track 1 – Arrival on Earth, ”Steve Jablonski” – Transformers OST, 2007.
Though Michael Bay took some liberties with the Transformers mythology, Steve Jablonski’s soundtrack feels fitting to the grand nature of Cybertron’s war.
Track 2 – Hans Zimmer, “The Dream is Collapsing” – Inception OST, 2010
Save for the creation of the Inception “Bwangh”, Zimmer’s work on Inception is some of his best work, second only to the theme from Das Boot.
Track 3 – Clint Mansell, “Welcome to Lunar Industries” – Moon OST, 2009
Mansell’s soundtrack perfectly mirrors the dark, lonely, and hesitantly hopeful images captured in Ducan Jones’ masterpiece.
Track 4 – Norihiko Hibino and Harry Gregson-Williams as performed by Cynthia Harrell, “Snake Eater” – Metal Gear Solid 3 OST, 2004
Without a doubt, this song is as good as any Bond theme.
Track 5 – Chris Cornell, “You Know my Name” – Casino Royale Soundtrack, 2006
Having seen every Bond movie, I can safely say that Cornell’s 007 theme is the best.
Track 6 – Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, “One Final Effort” – Halo 3 OST, 2007
This song is the absolute embodiment of Halo’s aural aesthetic. Essential driving music if you ever find yourself alone on a country highway.
Track 7 – Nobuo Uematsu, “The Man With the Machine Gun” – Final Fantasy VIII OST, 1999
Although Uematsu’s Liberi Fatali has become a fixture of gaming albums and concerts, I’ve always found The Man With the Machine Gun to be the superior track.
Track 8 – John Barry, “Main Title from The Black Hole.” – The Black Hole OST, 1979
Not even Ernest Borgnine could save Disney’s attempt to make a sci-fi movie for grown-ups. The Black Hole is poorly paced, ham fisted, maudlin, and preachy. The soundtrack is just as bad, save for this one haunting song that immediately stirs images of a mad scientist and his killer German robot.
Track 9 – David Bowie, “New Angels of Promise” – Omikron: The Nomad Soul OST, 1999
If cyber punk dystopias were beers, Omikron would be Corona Light. It’s soundtrack, however, is a mythological oatmeal stout brewed by King Arthur, Henry V and William Shakespeare. Bowie would later re-release New Angles of Promise on his 1999 album, Hours.
Track 10 – Andrew Sega and Dan Grandpre, “The Traveller” – Crusader: No Regret OST, 1995
If I ever get into a protracted movie style bar fight, this is the song that I want playing in the background. End of line.
Track 11 – Frank Klepacki, “Act on Instinct” – Command and Conquer OST, 1995
In 2003, I did a 10k run listening to this song on repeat the entire time. It’s the perfect track for when you need to solider on.
Track 12 – Daft Punk, “Derezzed” – Tron Legacy OST, 2010
Arguably, Daft Punk’s soundtrack is the best thing about the sequel to 1982’s Tron. The fact that it didn’t get an Oscar nomination for best original score remains a crime against music.
Track 13 – Michael Tavera, “Exo-Squad Main Theme”, 1993
Whereas most contemporary TV shows cold open and then flash the title card to a five second jingle, Exo-Squad’s theme reminds us how music used to set the mood of an entire show.
Track 14 – Star One, “Intergalactic Space Crusader” – Space Metal, 2002
That’s right, the album is called Space Metal. Turn this up to 11 and enjoy. Spoiler Alert for anybody who hasn’t seen the BBC series Blake’s 7.
Track 15 – The Alfee, “Space Battleship Yamato,” – Yamato Rebirth OST, 2009
Hiroshi Miyagawa composition, along with Space Battleship Yamato itself, is one of anime’s most enduring icons. Though there have been countless covers of the proto-military march, the Alfee’s recent re-master for the 2009 Yamato animated movie is among the best.
And that is volume 1 of essential genre music. I’ll put volume 2 together for next month.