My Favorite Movie Soundtracks (No Musical Numbers)

Hello, and thank you for checking into my blog! I’ve been in somewhat of a music mood for the past two months so I thought I’d do some music-related posts.

For those who don’t know, music has been one of my passions since I was a child. I even studied opera in college before history and film studies took over my life. (And teaching, Russia, and everything else).

Before I begin, here’s the rundown of this particular list. I put together a list of my top 25 film soundtracks. This does not include musical numbers (aka Disney Musicals or any from the Golden Age of Hollywood). But if a musical happens to have a fantastic score, I included it.

I’m not going to lie, most of these scores are either Joe Hisaishi or Hans Zimmer. I didn’t mean to set up the list this way! It just so happens I really like their music.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Honorable Mention. Hugo (2011), music by Howard Shore

Why is it one of my favorites? There is something almost sultry about Howard Shore’s score for Hugo. When I first heard it in 2012 or so, I thought to myself, so this is what the magic of silent films sounded like. It was a silly thought but its magic never really left me.

When do I love to listen to it? While I write lesson plans for film! Or when I’m gearing up to watch silent films.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Coeur Volant” (feat. Zaz). I know this technically shouldn’t be my favorite because there is singing in it, but it’s my list so I can do what I want.

I hum this song all the time. It has a nice Parisian feel to it. I like the accordion that plays throughout the song and how soft it is.

If this soundtrack could have any predominant colors, what would they be? (I love to imagine music in color for fun). Blue, Silver, with soft hints of yellow.

25. Beauty and the Beast (1991), music by Alan Menken

Why is it one of my favorites? Honestly, I never really knew I loved this soundtrack until I started teaching Middle School Music once upon a time. I’ve grown to really appreciate this movie over the years and the musical score is part of that growth.

The soundtrack definitely has a nostalgic feeling to it, but in a way that makes me believe in magic and love. It may seem corny but it’s a powerful feeling to have when listening to music.

When do I love to listen to it? While I’m at school doing stuff around my room.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Transformation”, it has a sweeping feel, like it’s drawing you into the animation. I especially love the music for the Beast’s transformation as his hands, feet, and face change.

If this soundtrack could have any predominant colors, what would they be? (I love to imagine music in color for fun).

Blue, Gold, Red, and maybe white.

24. Song of the Sea (2014), music by Bruno Coulais

Why is it one of my favorites? I love Irish music, and the sea so this soundtrack is a beautiful indulgence of mine. Of course, I love this movie to death, so that definitely helps. There are many Irish instruments featured in this soundtrack and beautiful vocals spread throughout.

When do I love to listen to it? Meditation, while I read.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Song of the Sea” with Lisa Hannigan. This is yet another example of a song that partially has singing in it. But it isn’t a musical so it’s fine.

I use this song in meditation and yoga all the time because it calms me down. It reminds me of happy times.

If this soundtrack could have any predominant colors, what would they be? (I love to imagine music in color for fun) Blue, Green, White

23. How To Train Your Dragon (2010), music by John Powell

Why is it one of my favorites? Sometimes I needed really fast-paced music for running and driving and this soundtrack is one of the those I turn to. Normally I go for rhythmic music or really calm instrumentals. This has both!

When do I love to listen to it? When I’m running outside or driving places I don’t know.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Forbidden Friendship”, I love how this song builds upon itself through the strings. It almost feels like a beautiful dance. What I love in soundtracks is if they have complicated dynamics with rising and falling tension.

If this soundtrack could have any predominant colors, what would they be? (I love to imagine music in color for fun).Red, Black

22. The Wind Rises (2013), music by Joe Hisaishi

Why is it one of my favorites? It feels Italian and is bursting with emotionality. Of all of Hisaishi’s scores, this might be his most reserved. I don’t mind because sometimes, oftentimes, I need music that makes me feel like I’m flying; like it’s okay to feel pain.

When do I love to listen to it? When I’m studying or lesson planning. It’s non-invasive and helps me think.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “A Journey-A Dream of Flight”, This is basically the theme for the whole score. I hum it all the time and sometimes loop it when I’m meditating.

Normally I don’t like guitar (It’s too plucky and staccato for my tastes). But I love how the song transports me back to Italy, dreaming, and wonder.

If This soundtrack could have predominant colors, what would they be? White, Light Blue, Yellow, Grey

21. Cinderella (2015), music by Patrick Doyle

Why is it one of my favorites? If Strauss could have a movie soundtrack prodigy, it would be Patrick Doyle. This soundtrack makes me want to dance in fancy gatherings.

When do I love to listen to it? I love to listen to it when I’m pondering hard personal matters. It’s like the music unravels my thoughts for me.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “La Valse de Lamour”, This song gives me hope I’ll be able to find love someday. It’s part of one of my meditation exercises.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? White, Gold, Blue, Brown

20. Edward Scissorhands (1990), music by Danny Elfman

Why is it one of my favorites? This film isn’t necessarily nostalgic for me because I watched it as an adult. What I do love about it is how it feels like it’s floating, like it doesn’t belong in the real world. Danny Elfman has a way of doing that.

When do I love to listen to it? November. I know that’s awfully specific but that’s the time of year it seems to fit.

Which song is my favorite in the soundtrack and why? “Introduction and The End”, Like How To train Your Dragon, these pieces feel like they are MOVING. They cascade up and down multiple times and shift between soft and hard.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? White, Blue, Pink

19. The Little Prince (2015), music by Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey

Why is it one of my favorites? For me, it encompasses the feeling of a joyful childhood. It’s exciting, bold, and brave in its tone. I’m a big fan of the original novel, so I had high expectations for this movie. It met most of those expectations, thankfully, especially in its music.

When do I love to listen to it? When I’m sad. I think adults sometimes need to remember that around the mushy, sad parts of life there is joy and beauty.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Draw Me a Sheep” or “Finding the Rose”, Honestly, these songs make me want to cry. The woman singing is almost like a mother calling for a child to remember.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Orange, Yellow, Brown

18. The King and the Mockingbird (1980), music by Wojciech Kilar

Why is it one of my favorites? It’s very gentle. I’ve never really explored Kilar’s other soundtracks, but this one for me makes me want to stop and listen to a story. It isn’t very busy, but it always grabs my attention.

When do I love to listen to it? While I read. Much of the time, it’s when I read fairytales.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Générique,” I’m particularly fond of watzes. This is one of the many songs I wish I could play on the piano. I loop this song when I meditate because it reminds me of falling below the water.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? White, Blue, Brown, Grey

17. Metropolis (2001), music by Atsuki Kimura

Why is it one of my favorites? It matches the tone and ambiance of the film. I appreciate its artistry and revel in the blues and jazz tunes.

When do I listen to it? When I’m in the mood for blues. Usually, this means it’s raining or foggy.

What is your favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Going to Zone,” It has a bass clarinet and a saxophone. It’s swanky and mysterious and one of my all-time jams.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Orange, Red, Yellow, Black

16. Spiderman Into the Spiderverse (2018), music by Daniel Pemberton

Why is it one of my favorites? I’m not always a fan of rap or hip-hop because of the profanity associated with it. However, I loved this movie because it had all the rhythm and diversity of the aforementioned music with no ulterior messages.

When do I love to listen to it? When I need to do HEAVY exercise.

What is my favorite song in the soundtrack and why? “What’s Up Danger” feat. Black Caviar, This song is so intense! I can practically feel electricity and thunder going on while it’s playing.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Black, Red

15. Sherlock Holmes (2009), music by Hans Zimmer

Why is it one of my favorites? This soundtrack has so many unique instruments and is very rhythmic. I especially like when the honky tonk piano plays in the background. It has a bizarre flow to it I’ve always enjoyed turning back to time and time again.

When do I like to listen to it? While studying or writing intense projects. Whenever I watch the movie, I tend to go on a listening binge of this movie’s soundtrack and its sequel.

What is my favorite song in the soundtrack and why? “Discombobulate,” for its honky tonk piano and beautiful rhythmic bass drop near the beginning of the song.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Black, Dark Blue, Sharp Yellow

14. Tarzan (1999), music by Mark Mancina and Phil Collins

Why is it one of my favorites? I’m a sucker for drums and Mark Manchina’s instrumental score, combined with Phil Collins singing numbers simply makes me happy. As a general rule, this is one of my all time favorite movies so I tend to like everything about it. As a musician though, I truly appreciate the work the composers put into the score.

When do I like to listen to it? If I’m in a Disney mood or need to feel pumped up for something, I like to turn it on.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Two Worlds,” I’ve always thought the beginning of Tarzan, paired with this great song is one of the best in animated history. I really like the drums and low brass.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Green, Red, sometimes blue

13. Laputa Castle in the Sky (1986), music by Joe Hisaishi

Why is it one of my favorites? It has a gentle beauty about it. Hisaishi has a way of drawing me into his musical scores. I can picture vividly scenes from the movie connected to his songs. It creates a nostalgic, longing feeling for me.

When do I like to listen to it? When I go on walks or when I’m reading.

What is my favorite song and why? “Carrying You,” I hum this song a lot and try to sing the lyrics. Usually I fail because I don’t speak Japanese (yet). When I watched the movie for the first time, this song really stuck with me.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Light Blue, White, and Gold

12. Inception (2010), music by Hans Zimmer

Why is it one of my favorites? Let’s talk about building a movie through its music. One of the highlights of this film for me was flowing along with its music. There wasn’t just one style or group of instruments. It really made me feel like I was in a dream,

When do I like to listen to it? Crunch time while writing. I also play some of its song on loop when I need to meditate.

What is my favorite song and why? “Time,” it gives me goosebumps when I listen to it. It’s one of those songs I mentioned above that help me meditate.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Blue, Black, Red

11. Coraline (2009), music by Bruno Coulais

Why is it one of favorites? First of all, it brings back beautiful memories from the first time I watched the movie. The soundtrack doesn’t sound like any others (as far as I know), and carries the vivid, spooky stop-motion animation in the film.

When do I like to listen to it? When I read creepy children’s books. 🙂

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “The Supper,” it is what provides the “not so right” feeling at the first dinner Coraline has with her other parents. The movie makes it LOOK like it should be a wonderful dinner, but the music creates this hypnotic atmosphere of dread.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Mustard Yellow, White, and Dark Blue

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), music by Hans Zimmer

Why is it one of my favorites? I have so many good memories of this soundtrack. I used to listen to it on loop repeatedly while working jobs and going to classes in college. I think I love this soundtrack so much because of the strings and dynamics.

When do I like to listen to it? Running! I also like to to listen to it while driving in the morning. It wakes me up.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Jack Sparrow,” this songs gets me pumped up! I love the lifts and falls throughout ESPECIALLY near the end when the strings crescendo and go HARD!

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Red, Brown, and Dark Green

9. Interstellar (2014), Music by Hans Zimmer

Why is it one of my favorites? It’s so ethereal. When I saw Interstellar for the first time I marveled how well put together it was. The more I watched, the more I realized this was in part because of the soundtrack. If I made a list of the most impressive soundtracks of all time, it might just be first.

When do I like to listen to it? When I need to slow down. I often do yoga sequences to the soundtrack because it doesn’t rush or ever really become overwhelming.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? All of them. Just kidding. I think. . . “Mountains,” because of the tension and build it brings to the movie. Outside the film, it kind of makes me feel like I’m in a ticking clock.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Grey and White.

8. Princess Mononoke (1997), music by Joe Hisaishi

Why is it one of my favorites? When I saw the movie for the first time, I listened to the soundtrack and fell in love. It’s epic, beautiful, and overall enchanting. It also really has organic movement, which fits into its rural, old world feel. There are many traditional Japanese instruments scattered throughout too, which is super fun for me to find as a musician.

When do I like to listen to it? Reading and writing. I also like to pull up the songs when I’m studying music for fun.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Princess Mononoke Theme Song (vocal),” I learned this song in English and often sing it to myself when I’m cleaning. I like the Japanese and English versions the same.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Red, Brown, Deep Forest Green

7. Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), music by Howard Shore

Why is it one of my favorites? I’m a huge fan of the movies and I LOOOOOOOVE the soundtrack. This doesn’t mean I love absolutely every song to pieces, but I turn to this soundtrack almost weekly for different songs. I don’t think I could describe well all the reasons why I love this soundtrack so much. It would take too long.

Suffice it to say, I find this soundtrack is equally calming as it is upbeat and epic.

When do I like to listen to it? Running, reading, walking, writing. . . basically I choose songs that fit my current mood.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Twilight and Shadow,” out of all the songs from the soundtrack, I wish I could sing this song and do it justice. (To be honest, I’m just going to do a countdown of my favorite songs from Lord of the Rings).

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? All of them. It depends on the song and scene.

6. Spirited Away (2001), music by Joe Hisaishi

Why is it one of my favorites? How could I not love this soundtrack? It’s so Japanese and has so many good songs! For those who have seen this movie, you understand me when I say the soundtrack takes you on an incredible journey.

When do I like to listen to it? When I need to get some solid work done. It helps me focus.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Procession of Spirits,” this song actually is to my favorite scene from the movie when the spirits step off the boat. It is light and I love the staccato notes spread throughout the song, especially once the boat reaches the shore.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Red and Black for some parts, and light blue for others.

5. Life of Pi (2012), music by Mychael Danna

Why is it one of my favorites? It’s so India! I love Life of Pi and could write an entire monologue about how great it is. As far as the music goes, it is one of the most grounding, loving soundtracks I’ve ever heard. When I saw the movie, I immediately went home and got the soundtrack.

When do I like to listen to it? When I’m reading sometimes. Usually, I listen to it when I need to do a deep meditation.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? . . . all of them. Sigh, well, “Pi’s Lullaby,” is the first to come to mind. However, when I do my favorite soundtrack songs list there will be TONS of them from this soundtrack.

I love this particular song because of how peaceful it is. The singer for this song often puts me to sleep when I’m feeling particularly anxious.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Yellow, Blue, and White.

4. Pride and Prejudice (2005), music by Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Why is it one of my favorites? My favorite musical instrument is the piano. It reminds me of my father and how he used to play classical music when I was younger. For this movie, it draws me back to a simpler time period. It’s altogether romantic and wonderful to listen to.

When do I like to listen to it? When I need to wind down. It’s so familiar to me now it has a tranquilizing effect.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? (You might have noticed it’s hard to choose them now that we are in the top five). Probably “Your Hands are Cold,” is the song I love slightly more than the rest. (This is subject to change). I love it because it reminds me of the climax, when Darcy is all romantic.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Yellow, Blue, and White.

3. The Prince of Egypt (1998), music by Hans Zimmer

Why is it one of my favorites? This is yet another film I love absolutely everything about. Hans Zimmer did an incredible job giving the film an Egyptian feel and drawing out so much raw emotion.

When do I like to listen to it? When I need to wind down and face difficult issues in my life. This movie has a way of helping me see and understand what’s truly important. It also strikes a deep chord in me spiritually, so I listen to it when I need to feel that connection with God.

What is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? “Death of the Firstborn,” the cello seems like it is crying. I often go back to this song when I need to cry and contemplate hard things.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Blue, Orange, Brown, and White

2. The Lion King (1994), music by Hans Zimmer

Why is it one of my favorites? I have so many good memories of this movie. I actually like the soundtrack MORE than the musical numbers by Elton John. Even as I’m listening to it right now I’m getting emotional.

When do I like to listen to it? When I need to feel connected to God is generally when I turn it on. I also turn to it when I am thinking about loved ones who have died.

What is my favorite song form the soundtrack and why? They are all great. The end. But if I had to choose one. . . I’d say “Remember Who You Are,” from the extended soundtrack. This song encompasses the entire scene when he runs to see Mufasa and talks to him. It has so many ups and downs, but my favorite part would have to be as he’s running through the forest.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Orange, Blue, Red, and Yellow

1. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), musical score by Joe Hisaishi

Why is it my FAVORITE? I have so so many good memories of this movie. I found it when I was sixteen and have loved it ever since. I might have watched it four times in a row, because it fascinated me so much.

The definite highlight for me was the music. I thought the piano in the beginning was especially beautiful. All in all, the soundtrack feels almost magical to me. I listen to it probably too much. But I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.

When do I like to listen to it? Car rides, when I’m reading Howl’s Moving Castle, or when I need a pick me up.

What it is my favorite song from the soundtrack and why? Because it is my favorite I’ll pick two.

  1. “A Walk in the Skies,” it goes with one of my favorite animated scenes of all time, when Howl and Sophie walk on air to a lovely waltz. It’s altogether romantic and wonderful to listen to.
  2. “The Boy Who Swallowed a Star,” this is one of the few times I could say I loved the trumpet. Overall, I hear this song and feel like I’ve transported through the door to the past with Sophie.

If this soundtrack had predominant colors what would they be? Blue, Pink, Yellow, and Light Green.

Thank you so much for reading! Stay tuned for more music-themed posts from me in the future!

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