What’s a story without music? 

On February 15th, 2018, I sat in a rickety seat at my local Cineplex watching Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler, 2018). The song, “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA was playing while the credits were rolling, and the audience was left to walk out of the dark theater into the harsh light and ponder over the movie. I remember that soundtrack had such a profound impact on the t music I listened to because it made me think about when other films’ music would randomly just show up in my playlists one day. Looking back at my 2021 playlist, a master log of every single song i e listened to over the course of the past year, I’ve estimated around 40% of my music came from a television show or movie I’ve seen. “You’re the One” by the Vogues came from my endless rewatch of The Queen’s Gambit (dir. Scott Frank, 2020), “There She Goes” by The La’s came from The Parent Trap (dir. Nancy Meyers, 1998), and so on. 

Music and storytelling go in harmony with one another, which is why I think soundtracks have become so ingrained into my ears, mind, and soul. Even without scores, if I picked up my violin again I could play “Courtyard Apocalypse” by Alexandre Desplat without blinking an eye. Having a perfect movie score or soundtrack is to me,  perfect storytelling.  A mellow song plays as a  character walks into the pouring rain; simply and effectively creating a sense of  blank ambience.Classic 90s pop dominates the coming-of-age film genre, almost to make the audience feel as if they’re living out their 90s teen dreams along with their favorite character. Soft piano ballads are found in more feature-film dramas, where the main character must face  adulthood and make a name for themselves. 

The first film soundtrack I was ever gifted was for The Breakfast Club (dir. John Hughes, 1985), and that was my first look at what curated movie albums created in terms of impact on the mind. Then came the Ferris Bueller CD my dad handed down to me, to the Guardians of the Galaxy Vo. I album that went trending in 2014, from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse album with “Sunflower” by Post Malone leading, to the Labrinth Euphoria album. Albums like these make me feel like I’m watching the show or film without having to open Netflix or turn on the TV.. It also gives me the ability and freedom to  “watch” my favorite film wherever I go. When I start playing The Breakfast Club album on my daily walk to class, I already feel as if I’ve entered a John Hughes movie. 

The success of the Guardians of the Galaxy album was tremendous, and the impact it had on various other films is quite noticeable. With Black Panther: The Album, many Marvel fans were blown away by how such great music was created for the sole purpose of the Black Panther story. That success then went to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: The Album produced by 88rising; with songs by Anderson Paak, Rich Brian, and other Asian artists. 

The evolution of movie soundtracks has given musical artists a chance to create art associated with films and stories. Picking hit singles from different artists to creating

A compilation album has now changed to the music industry partnering up with the film scene to merge two different kinds of storytelling with engaging and dazzling effects.

Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1D9zMlvGcREpghKK3dMFhn?si=1c167b7af6ae41af




About The Author

Tiana Lam (she/her) is the Marketing Director for MUSE. She loves drinking americanos, reviewing movies on Letterboxd, and annoying people to follow her on Spotify. Tiana is in her fourth year studying Film and Media.

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