Justin Timberlake writes a film score; how will he fare compared to other pop-star composers?
We already know that Justin Timberlake can sing, dance, and act in whimsical Saturday Night Live sketches. (Often he will do all three of those things at once.) But can he score?
JT will add another column to his résumé when he provides the music to the upcoming film The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, which is being directed by Bill Purple and stars Chloe Moretz and Timberlake’s fiancée Jessica Biel. Production begins this fall, which should give Timberlake enough time to promote his forthcoming Coen Brothers picture Inside Llewyn Davis.
It’s a bold but logical step for the pop star turned ever-expanding hyphenate: He has worked with some of the best production minds in modern pop music, so he knows his way around a studio. Maybe he really could be the next Danny Elfman.
Of course, before he became Tim Burton’s musical muse, Elfman was a pop star himself, knocking out quirky New Wave with Oingo Boingo. And he’s hardly the only one to make that transition:
The Nine Inch Nails mastermind found another artistic soul mate in director David Fincher — the two collaborated, along with co-composer Atticus Ross, on 2010’s The Social Network (which earned Reznor an Oscar) and 2011’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Reznor’s film work is a more nuanced reflection of the sort of soundscapes he was building with NIN, full of darkness, noise, and sonic dread.
Better known as the guitarist for Radiohead, Greenwood has also let his considerable atmosphere-building skills loose on cinema. Like Reznor, Greenwood has found a like-minded director in Paul Thomas Anderson, who tapped Greenwood for the scoring duties on the Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood. In addition to providing the score for Anderson’s forthcoming flick The Master, Greenwood has also built tracks for the 2011 film We Need to Talk About Kevin and 2010’s Norwegian Wood. But it’s the music from There Will Be Blood — which was disqualified from Oscar contention because it used too much prerecorded music — that grips the most.
It’s sort of a cheat for electronic artists to be on this list, especially those working in the dance sector who were already writing funky scores to movies that didn’t yet exist. But the music for Tron: Legacy is simultaneously integral to the on-screen action and so much better than said action that it’s impossible not to acknowledge the mysterious French duo.
Hanna is a perfectly reasonable action movie, but its middle-of-the-roadness is elevated by the fiercely kinetic score constructed by Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands. It’s breathless and intense — more action-packed than the film itself.
Laugh all you want, but the English New Wavers’ best album happens to be To Live and Die in L.A., the batch of original music constructed for director William Friedkin’s 1985 cop thriller of the same name.
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