The Best Soundtracks Of 2017

blade runner 2049 music

by Emma Thrower |
Published on

We've already looked at the best individual movie tracks of the year. Now it's time to look back at the soundtracks that made us go weak at the knees during 2017. As expected, you'll definitely find Baby Driver in there, but we also hope to bring your attention to some composers and scores that you might not have yet become acquainted with this year. Enjoy.

Blade Runner 2049

Composer: Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch

Spoiler: this isn’t the last time you’ll see Zimmer or Wallfisch on this list. Stepping in for original composer Jóhann Jóhannsson at the eleventh hour, the duo delivered a score that occasionally had us cowering in our cinema seats. Bold (Sea Wall), impressive and sometimes downright terrifying (Flight To LAPD), Blade Runner 2049’s score pays homage to Vangelis’ 1982 work (most notably in Mesa and Tears In The Rain), while surely destined to receive its own iconic status in time.

Baby Driver

Composer: Various

Edgar Wright turned to the kings and queens of rock (The Damned!), pop (Sky Ferreira!), soul (Barry White!) and indie (Blur!) for what is, let’s be honest, the soundtrack of the year. Three of the film’s meticulously-chosen cues ended up on our Best Tracks Of 2017 list, but credit must be given to the inclusion of Queen’s Brighton Rock during one of the film’s more intense set-pieces. Freddie Mercury has never sounded so angry.

La La Land

Composer: Justin Hurwitz

January’s La La Land took home an Oscar for Best Score, with Hurwitz (and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) also winning a little gold man for Best Song (City Of Stars). A blend of live vocals (City Of Stars duet, Audition) and studio-recorded tracks (Another Day Of Sun, Someone In The Crowd), Damien Chazelle’s film is all the richer for his composer’s lush orchestrations. John Legend’s odd-one-out Start A Fire may be written with plot in mind, but we genuinely – and controversially – believe it to be one of the best songs on the album. And yes, that definitely has a lot to do with Ryan Gosling’s dazzling Seaboard Grand solos{ =nofollow}...


Composer: Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka

For those unacquainted with Dustin O’Halloran (Like Crazy, Transparent), you’re going to require an extra-large box of Kleenex before you embark on this particular musical journey. Going in hard on our emotions and the piano and string sections, this heartbreaking score is as soul-stirring as the film it accompanies.

The LEGO Batman Movie

Composer: Lorne Balfe

Lorne Balfe’s score is nothing short of inspired. Having earnt his musical stripes composing additional pieces for Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight scores (as well as many of Zimmer’s other big hits such as Pirates, Sherlock Holmes and Inception), Balfe is undeniably one of the most exciting composers working. His LEGO Batman score delivers tenfold, weaving infectiously fun childish strokes with nods to Batman soundtracks past and present. It is, quite frankly, an utter joy.

King Arthur

Composer: Daniel Pemberton

Guy Ritchie films deserve big, bold movements. They need to let you know they’ve arrived. Daniel Pemberton certainly delivers the Arthurian goods, creating a score that fascinates in many different ways. Breath, percussion and vigour combine to spectacular effect especially in The Darklands and Growing Up Londinium – one of our favourite tracks of the year.

Wonder Woman

Composer: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Wonder Woman’s instantly recognisable motif is one of the best superhero themes ever put to film. Gregson-Williams may not have written cello riff Is She With You? from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's Batman V Superman score, but thankfully he was allowed to borrow it for Gal Gadot’s first solo outing. There’s a lot to like in here (No Man’s Land is a big standout), and it rises above generic superhero fare thanks to the fact that the score was designed for a hero who actually has the power to inspire.

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 2

Composer: Various

Let’s be honest: we knew that James Gunn wouldn’t let us down after his barnstorming debut Guardians compilation. Vol. 2 wasn’t quite as ‘rocky’ this time around, instead opting for some more laid back jams that were still just as effective. Yusuf’s (Cat Stevens) Father And Son brought the gravitas, while ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky and Guardians Inferno guaranteed the neon fun remain intact.

Loving Vincent

Composer: Clint Mansell

Few composers provoke emotion in quite the way Mansell does. His Loving Vincent score is no different, providing the poignant soundtrack to Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s animated masterpiece. Rich, evocative strings command your attention from the opening The Night Café, and you’ll find yourself mesmerised until the film’s closing bars.


Composer: Hans Zimmer

You knew this one was coming. Joined by Benjamin Wallfisch and Lorne Balfe, Zimmer’s score is designed to make you feel, in turn, claustrophobic and hopeful. Eight-minute nail-biter Supermarine puts you in the heart of the action, while the score is at its most magnificent, breathtaking best when twisting Elgar’s Nimrod (from his Enigma Variations) into Variation 15.

Thor: Ragnarok

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh

Mothersbaugh’s work is splattered with eighties beep-boops but still manages to stay suitably epic and regal (see What Heroes Do for solid proof). It also boasts some the year’s most fun pieces: most notably Parade and Planet Sakaar. Final track Grandmaster Jam Session will have you picturing Jeff Goldblum freestyling around his multicoloured lair. Which is, uh, no bad thing.

Hidden Figures

Composer: Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch

Right from Katherine’s opening twinklings, Zimmer, Wallfisch and Williams’ score just feels inspiring. Handy, that, when it belongs to a film telling the story of some of the most inspirational women in history. Zimmer and Williams have previous, working together on The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But there are no signs of Jamie Foxx or dubstep here, instead catchy ditties with heavy bass lines (Call Your Wives) and soaring moments of hope (I Like Her Numbers, Hidden Figures).

A Ghost Story

Composer: Daniel Hart

In constructing one of the best scores of the year for one of the best films of the year, Daniel Hart has created something that will get under your skin and not leave you for weeks. From soft tremolo strings and electronic drums (Safe Safe Safe) to genuinely creepy moments (Sciunt Se Esse Mortui) and operatic voices (Viventes Enim), this is the soundtrack that keeps on giving. Come for the haunting, revisited themes, but stay for Dark Rooms’ astonishing I Get Overwhelmed.

Patti Cake$

Composer: Geremy Jasper

“P, A, T, T, I, C, A, K, E, dollar sign!” It’s clear from opening track Patti $eas$on that Geremy Jasper’s film isn’t messing about. PBNJ is its definite highlight (if you haven’t seen the film, the scene this is attached to is a thing of pure delight), but there’s so much to feast on here that you won’t know where to start. It’s not just Patti (Danielle Macdonald) who gets to vocalise her feelings, with her mum (Bridget Everett) belting out truly great ‘80s-style banger, Tuff Love (Barb Wire) before the pair unite for the brilliantly Eminem-esque Tuff Love (Finale).


Composer: Toydrum

It wasn’t just Hans Zimmer who delivered the synthy goodness this year. Head straight to Prevenge’s Biological Clockwork (The Train) and you’ll understand exactly what we’re talking about. Toydrum (This Is England ‘90, the upcoming James Franco-directed Future World) have crafted something that wouldn’t sound out of place on a night out, from the incredible Fury Pt 1 & 2, to the far more relaxing This Is What I Really Look Like. Do not miss this one.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Matt Reeves’ ape-ocalypse was accompanied by one of the best Michael ‘oh-my-gosh-does-he-ever-sleep’ Giacchino scores we’ve ever laid our ears on. It excels in the ominous (Assault Of The Earth), in its uniquely hopeful-yet-sombre hybrids (Exodus Wounds), in the effectively catchy (Planet Of The Escapes), and in the truly devastating (Paradise Found). The only negative is that this is the last time Giacchino will – we think – get to work on this franchise.

Wind River

Composer: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis

Responsible for some of cinema’s most stirring musical landscapes (The Road, The Proposition, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford), Wind River is a stellar addition to this duo’s collection. Transporting you straight to the bitter Wyoming weather, Cory’s Story and Memory Time provide the shivers, while vocals chill during Second Journey and Three Seasons In Wyoming.

Fast & Furious 8

Composer: Various

This soundtrack might be a bit too cool for us, but we still recognise a good bop when we hear one. Furious 8’s soundtrack is full of them, from the toe-tapping Good Life (G-Eazy and Kehlani) to legitimate head-nodder, Horses (PnB Rock, Kodak Black & A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie). For those who fancy something a bit harder, head straight to Bassnectar’s (feat. Ohana Bam and Lafa Taylor) Speakerbox. Oh, and good luck getting Hey Mama’s (J Balvin & Pitbull feat. Camila Cabello) chorus out of your head once you’ve listened to it.

Good Time

Composer: Oneohtrix Point Never

Now this is a score. It’s electronica, but not quite as we know it: think shades of Cliff Martinez but with more unpredictability and prog rock influences. It’s intoxicating and at times claustrophobic, but in the best possible way. The opening Good Time joins Entry To White Castle and Flashback as our personal favourites, with the Iggy Pop end credit collaboration (The Pure And The Damned, which made it onto our Best Tracks Of 2017 list) begging for an Oscar performance by its vocalist. Just like Martinez’s Drive, this soundtrack doesn’t require a film for you to enjoy it in its own right.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Composer: Geoff Zanelli

You might think you’ve heard it all before, but Geoff Zanelli updates Zimmer’s well-loved themes to inject something a little different. Dead Men Tell No Tales sets the scene and No Woman Has Ever Handled My Herschel (along with best track name of the year) delivers the most fun, before El Matador Del Mar and Kill The Sparrow turn it up to eleven with more aggressive strings and electric guitar than ever graced Zimmer’s previous installments.

Call Me By Your Name

Composer: Various

Starting with a bundle of classical optimism (Hallelujah Junction – 1st Movement, M.A.Y. In The Backyard), this playlist soon ventures into the super-dreamy (Une Barque Sur L’Ocean) before gifting us with two Sufjan Stevens originals (Mystery Of Love, Visions Of Gideon). The film’s French setting makes room for a stellar selection of European pop (Paris Latino is a certified tune), but it’s Stevens who truly provides the most memorable pieces for Oliver and Elio’s love affair.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Composer: Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson

Matthew Vaughn’s sequel packs a mighty punch and its music matches it every step of the way. The signature theme is still integral to the sequel, but the joy is in the American twists added due to The Golden Circle’s geographical changes. Opening track Eggsy Is Back made it onto our favourite tracks of the year list, but we’d also strongly suggest you start with Kingsman Hoedown, Tornado In A Trailer Park and Temple Battle.

The Handmaiden

Composer: Jo Yeong-wook

If we give you one Christmas present this year, it’s this sublime score from Oldboy’s Jo Yeong-wook. From the opening moments of The Tree From Mount Fuji to the closing bars of The Footsteps Of My Dear Love, this is a musical gift you’ll want to visit over and over again. A fusion of rousingly contemporary classical (My Tamako, My Sookee belongs amidst the very best romantic epics) and more traditional (Old Scars And Fresh Pink Wounds will remind you of a certain Christmas carol), we just can’t get enough.

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