Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Birthday John Williams - a god among movie soundtrack composers!

I want to take a moment to congratulate Mr. John Williams on his 78th birthday today (February 8) and commemorate his unbelievably dense catalogue of film music compositions.

Like many film music fans, Williams was largely responsible for my introduction and immediate adoration for movie scores. I still remember repeatedly listening to the double-vinyl Empire Strikes Back soundtrack on my “portable” record player, lying on the floor and intensely admiring the artwork on the gatefold album sleeve. From there it was on to Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and before I knew it, I was collecting movie soundtracks the same way people collect baseball cards.

Williams is one of those elite composers who has the magical ability to grip a child’s imagination and hold onto it through adolescence. It is one of the many reasons that it is difficult to fling a negative comment in his direction.

Known as the man behind the music of many Hollywood blockbusters, New York-born composer John Williams is among the few artists worthy of the titles “icon” and “legend.” He studied at both University of California (Los Angeles) and Julliard, and his first scoring composition was for the 1958 film Daddy-O.

Read more of my tribute to John Williams at my Soundtracks Examiner page here!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Counting down the best Heavy Metal and Movie Soundtrack music of 2009

Now that 2009 is quickly becoming a fleeting memory, all the major media outlets are scrambling to remind the public of what it SHOULD be remembering as the best and worst of the year. Nine times out of ten, these lists are ham-fisted, shameless plugs for that which was the most popular, what is most likely to win awards, with smatterings of unknown indie releases simply to prove that the “experts” aren’t the nose-upturned snobs we know they are.

Whatever happened to culling lists because they were fun? Why not make a list of things that you genuinely like, without any kind of ulterior (or advertising-linked) motive? Ham-fisted concoctions like those you see in mainstream magazines only continue to act as ego-stroking that spoon-feeds us until we become so reliant on those “experts” to tell us what is “good” and what is not. And we ultimately forget that the “experts” are merely people with opinions…just like us.

This is why I agonize over making “best of” lists, because it only serves to express my own personal opinion. If you read any list you find online, you will undoubtedly see a string of comments of both praise and complaint – praising the writer for including some of the reader’s favorites (which was actually a coincidence), or chastising the writer for “forgetting” to include certain things or flat-out telling him/her that he/she is wrong in his/her choices and rankings.

So, with all of that weighty nonsense in mind, I have decided to offer up, to help close out the year properly, a list of 20 heavy metal and movie soundtrack/score albums (respectively) that I felt were great – be they fun, sophisticated, throat-crushing, or just straight-up earworm-y. If you don’t agree with the choices, I applaud you for not being a clone of me.

Read my Examiner feature on the best Movie Soundtracks of 2009 here!

And check out my Examiner feature on the best Heavy Metal releases of 2009 here!

Jolly day!