John Williams, the man with more Academy Award nominations than any other living human being, and the winner of 21 Grammy’s, 7 BAFTA’s, 4 Golden Globes and 5 Academy Awards. He is the undisputed master of melodies. John Williams has been scoring films since 1958 and, including television shows, has so far 137 titles to his name. Doing a top 10 of this man’s masterful work is not for the faint hearted.
I’m sure many of your favorites will not make it onto this list, but this is a list of the scores that I believe added best to the film it was set to. Just because a score is an icon doesn’t mean it’ll be able to bully it’s way past a delicate treasure.
10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The theme of a generation, Hedwig’s theme from the Harry Potter films is Williams showing the world what magic sounds like. The finest of the Potter films is almost certainly not the Philosopher’s Stone, though it is arguably the most child friendly. The iconic score for this film captures the magic and wonderment of the books and film perfectly, securing its place in this top 10 as well as above the other two Potter films that Williams contributed to.
9. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Okay, yes I know… the one film, that more than any other, let down the Star Wars franchise. But the score… my God the score! The pieces that Williams carried through from the original saga were as beautiful as ever but the new music became instant classics. ‘Duel of the fates’, ‘The droid invasion’ and ‘Qui-Gon’s Noble End’ are standout tracks from the album, though the entire film is wonderfully scored… it’s just a shame the music is the highlight of the movie.
There are many scores of Williams’ that I listen to and I find myself thinking, “If he’d retired then he’d still be as legendary as he is today,” and yet he continues to flabbergast and amaze. Williams’ Superman melody is instantly memorable and hugely engaging. It is a testament to the legendary composer that this score isn’t higher up, if anyone else had written this score it’d probably be my number 1 in their top 10, bust as it’s Williams, it stays at number 8.
7. Jurassic Park
Super intelligent dinosaurs, dodgy health and safety measures as well as Jeff Goldblum in his prime… that’s right, it’s one of the best blockbusters ever made. It is impossible to imagine this film without its score. I mean go on, try it… think of that scene, the one with the helicopter flying towards the island OR the one where they first see the dinosaur eating from the trees. Are you hearing that music? I bet you are! Parodied, and with reason, this grand score is full of gesture, pomp and power.
6. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Only at number six! The man’s gone mad! Well, yes maybe but as wonderful and memorable as the score for Raiders of the Lost Ark is, my top 5 was impenetrable. Needless to say, this is pretty much what you would call adventure from a musical standpoint. It’s very easy to think of this score and only remember the main theme. If this is the case for you, I implore you to go back, re-watch the movie, and keep your ears open. From start to finish it is a master class in scoring for film and extremely enjoyable. Oh and all of the other Indiana Jones films are just as good. Well, maybe not all of them… but let’s pretend the fourth installment doesn’t exist ok?
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