Empire’s Music Playlist Of 2012

This year’s blockbusting beats

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This was the year in soundtracks when Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love’ provided the soundtrack to two snowmen falling in love in an ad as well as a couple mowing people down with a caravan in Sightseers, when Teenage Fanclub wore denim wherever she went in Young Adult, Katy Perry’s fireworks created health and safety issues in two more movie, and we asked, ‘Who got da keys to Hans Zimmer?” Christopher Nolan, as it turned out. Read on for our picks of the aural pleasures of 2012...

Track***: ‘The Concept’

Artist: Teenage Fanclub

The Fannies’ single played not once, not twice, but three times over the opening credits of Jason Reitman’s black comedy. Why so few? We think it’s because the movie had to start. Happily ‘The Concept’, Diablo Cody’s contribution to a soundtrack that’s chock-full of hip ‘90s indie (The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr.), resurfaces at a key moment in the story, albeit with Nipple Confusion doing a, shall we say, “fuzzy” cover version. Still, that nice namecheck for Status Quo survives in the song. More on them later.

Track: ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’

Artist: The Buggles

One of the most striking cues of the year, The Buggles’ slice of sugary, pre-Aqua pop played out the best scene in Sarah Polley’s relationship drama. Finally free from boring hubbie and together with exciting mystery dude she’d thought she wanted, Michelle Williams realises that her fellow waltzer (hey, the film’s not called ‘Take This Dodgem’) will take her straight back to where she’s come from. As the ride shifts from exhilaration to tedium, “We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far” drones in the background. It’s a perfect musical choice for a beautifully-judged visual metaphor.

Track***: ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’

Artist: LCD Soundsystem

In a year for documentaries that was also lit up by Marley and Searching For Sugar Man, this concert-flick-stroke-hipster-obit kept music lovers flocking to the big screen. LCD Soundsystem’s final moments as a band were played out to their most melancholy track to a hushed Madison Square Gardens. It took a spanner to fans’ tearducts. With shabby-but-effortless cool frontman James Murphy in charge of the eugoogalising, this was a moment to remember.

Track: 'Let My Baby Ride’

Artist: Doctor L (RL Burnside cover)

Leo Carax’s brilliant, bonkers art movie was hailed by some as the end of cinema. If so, what better way to go than hooning around Paris in a limo, flirting with Kylie and stomping about at the head of a euphonium parade? While we think those movie obits may be a little premature – we haven’t even seen Grown Ups 2 yet – this version of Mississippi blues man RL Burnside’s track was an arresting moment in a movie full of them. We especially like the bit where Denis Lavant shouts “Merde!” for no obvious reason.

Track***: ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’

Artist: Status Quo

Strange to think that, years ago, England’s favourite three-chord denim-rockers were a credible concern. Then again, so was the Men In Black franchise, so perhaps the crossover of the two in the third installment’s Factory scenes was karma. With Bill Hader’s uptight Andy Warhol providing one of the movie’s best gags and Will Smith and the excellent Josh Brolin pinning down an alien with a McGuffin, this 1967 track injected some psych-rock swirliness to hippie era Soho.

Track***: ‘Lay And Love’

Artist: The Pieces Of Shit

Paolo Sorrentino’s quirky road movie gave us Sean Penn in full Robert-Smith-from-The-Cure goth regalia, a Nazi manhunt and some introspection. It also supplied one of the year’s musical treats, thanks to the involvement of one-time Talking Head, David Byrne, and current Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Will Oldham. The pair teamed up with Irish singer Michael Brunnock to form The Pieces Of Shit. But don’t let the name mislead you: their music is lovely . Look out too for OST contributions from Iggy Pop, Jonsi and this spacy tune from Irish singer/songwriter Gavin Friday{ =nofollow}.

Track***: ‘Song Of The Lonely Mountain’

Artist: Neil Finn

A tune likely to get serious playtime on any blacksmith’s iPod, the familiar tones of Crowded House’s Neil Finn are joined in this folky by Howard Shore’s sweeping strings, a driving rhythm section and some serious metal clanking. It’s a fittingly noodlesome farewell for part one of the trilogy.

Track: 'Dirge'

Artist: Death In Vegas

This Death In Vegas 12” from the trailer for Brian De Palma’s Black Dahlia a few years ago and here it was again soundtracking Park Chan-wook’s new contemporary vampire flick. If you’ve got a film featuring death and/or evisceration coming out soon, here’s the band’s MySpace page: http://uk.myspace.com/deathinvegas

Track***: ‘Firework’

Artist: Katy Perry

If Katy Perry doesn’t do it for you 2012 was a good year to invest in earplugs, because the girl-kissing songstress was everywhere. July saw concert doc Katy Perry: Part Of Me shooting confetti across the big screen, while her bubblegum anthem ‘Firework’ lit up a pair of autumn releases of contrasting joyousness, Rust And Bone and Madagascar 3, AKA the lion and the killer whale films. Sadly, it didn't make the soundtrack of the Audiard film.

Track***: ‘Harder Than You Think’

Artist: Public Enemy

A Paralympics anthem this summer, Public Enemy’s blockbusting hip-hop anthem also got Jack Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña’s heads nodding in End Of Watch’s black-and-white as David Ayer and his vérité cop thriller rolled around downtown Los Angeles looking for trouble.

Track***: ‘State Trooper’ (Trentemøller remix)

Artist: Bruce Springsteen

The Boss’s moody melody was given an even moodier underlay by Danish electro producer Trentemøller in this Rust And Bone cue. Jacques Audiard’s self-proclaimed ‘trash melodrama’ was full of big musical moments, not all of them restricted to Katy Perry and killer whales, and here was another that lingered long in the memory. Much like the movie.

Track***: ‘Go With The Flo’

Artist: Orbital

As Drive proved last year, Nicolas Winding Refn knows how to put together a pulsing electro soundtrack. This Refn-produced remake of a Danish thriller he directed in 1996 dispenses with the original’s garage rock in favour of a pumping electro score by dance-music heroes Orbital. It’s another notched on the movie bedpost for the duo to add to The Beach, The Saint and Event Horizon, among others.

Track***: ‘Young Men Dead’

Artist: Black Angels

“I am not a hero,” Tom Cruise’s titular hard man says at the beginning of the Jack Reacher trailer. “Cha, right!” replied the rest of us, as we watched the Cruiser making a bunch of people a lot deader than they were previously. Aptly, ‘Young Men Dead’ by Texan psych rockers Black Angels soundtracked all this punching and kicking.

Track***: ‘The Power Of Love’

Artist: Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Ben Wheatley’s ace serial killer comedy was so dark it needed cat’s eyes. Unsurprisingly, the director used his musical cues to leaven some of the on-screen bleakness, as the use of this ‘80s ballad suggests. As ironic soundtrack choices go, we’re guessing ‘Caravan Of Love’ was too obvious.

Track***: ‘Rise’

Artist: Hans Zimmer

Alongside the freaky rumble of ‘Gotham’s Reckoning’{ =nofollow}, which sounded like an apocalypse of Gregorian monks but actually heralded something much scarier, this was the big musical cue from Han Zimmer’s third Bat-score. Somewhere in Zimmer’s studio is a massive button marked “BLLLLLAAAM!”. He pressed it a lot on this soundtrack.

Track***: ‘Skyfall’

Artist: Adele

For a movie about spying, Skyfall wasn’t especially good at keeping secrets. Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris were fingered early on as Q and Moneypenny respectively, while the recruitment of Adele for the theme song was the worst kept secret since Le Chiffre’s poker face. But when it arrived the song was a gem – hands down the best Bond theme since ‘License To Kill’ and a key component in a dazzlingly trippy credits sequence. Altogether now: “CRRRRRRUMBLE...”

Track***: ‘The Avengers Theme’

Artist: Alan Silvestri

Legendary Hollywood composer Alan Silvestri appeared on our 2011 hit list with his Captain America show tune, ‘Star Spangled Man’. This year he joined Cap in scoring a promotion to the main event, box-office behemoth Avengers Assemble. Veteran of Predator and Contact, Silvestri’s currency is big, brassy orchestral numbers like this S.H.I.E.L.D. battle hymn.

Track***: ‘No Church In The Wild’

Artists: Jay Z & Kanye West, featuring Frank Ocean

Hip-hop superheroes Kanye West and Jay Z formed an Avengers-style collaboration, ‘Watch The Throne’, in 2011 with this heavyweight tub-thumper stomping onto the big screen this year in so-so Denzel thriller Safe House back in February, and, more incongruously, in two trailers for The Great Gatsby. If Messrs West and Z really were superheroes, they’d probably watch Odin’s throne.

Track***: ‘Til Kingdom Come’

Artist: Coldplay

A hidden track on their X&Y album, this was originally written as a duet between Chris Martin and Johnny Cash that never came to pass. In the Spidey reboot it was left to Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker to take up the pairing duties, as the tune played out in the background, only this time there was much more kissing than originally planned. Ewwww.

Track***: ‘Long To Live’

Artist: Metric & Howard Shore

Canadian indie hipsters Metric were behind this slab of Scott Pilgrimage in 2010{ =nofollow}, and this year saw them collaborate with Howard Shore for a whole different kind of movie experience. With its rat flinging and veiled meanings, David Cronenberg’s take on Don DeLillo’s novel wasn’t to all tastes, but the soundtrack was undisputedly a good’un. Metric provide three tracks, including this, the pick of the bunch.

Track***: ‘Mecca’

Artist: K’naan

Where Strange Days had rapper Jeriko One, Cosmopolis offered up Brutha Fez as a doomed rap artist heading for a strange, zeigeisty funeral pyre in a film mired in millennial angst. If we had to pick, we’d go for Brutha Fez’s Afrobeat percussion, not least because it’s performed by an actual hip-hopper, Somali-Canadian K’naan. Using Don DeLillo-penned lyrics and the most flutes this side of an elvish knees-up, he delivers something truly haunting.

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