2016 seems to have been the year of the original movie song, and whilst some have been total flops (no one needs to – or does – remember Shakira’s ‘Try Everything’ for Zootopia or the entire soundtrack for Popstar), many others have surprised. So now I’ve decided to do some early Oscar predictions and count down what I think are the best ten movie songs of 2016 so far!
No. 10: Justin Timberlake – ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ (from Dreamworks’ Trolls)
Just managing to grab a place in the top. 10 is that feel-good tune that found its way cruising through the charts. Though nothing spectacular, and in some ways an inferior version of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ from 2015, it serves up everything a family film soundtrack needs. Try listening to it without wanting to dance in your chair; or on your feet, even! Emily Marmara reviews the song here.
No. 9: Fall Out Boy (ft. Missy Elliot) – ‘Ghostbusters’ (from Ghostbusters)
Admittedly, some people may be slightly skeptical at this specific entry grabbing a place in my top. 10, but let’s be honest- everyone harped back to their inner child when they heard this new version for the hit 2016 film headed up by Melissa McCarthy. I loved the darkness and drama that Fall Out Boy brought to a song that has otherwise been sung annually by the biggest X-Factor reject. They did a pretty good job! Sophie Trenear has provided a full review of the song here.
No. 8: Sia – ‘Waving Goodbye’ (from The Neon Demon)
At number 8, is the newest entry on the list and the first of two from Sia. ‘Waving Goodbye’ is quite an edgy song, that at points can feel a little confused, but as a whole works really well, and is an excellent accompaniment for what is set to be a weird and wacky film. Original songs, after all, are meant to act as perfect accompaniment to the films they represent.
No. 7: P!nk – ‘Just Like Fire’ (from Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass)
I, for one, was ecstatic to see the return of P!nk this year as she recorded this (somewhat stereotypical) track for Tim Burton’s latest escapade. Though it has its critics, I thought the song was extremely catchy and benefited from the rap-section halfway through. It also has one of the best music videos I’ve seen so far this year.
No. 6: Bill Murray – ‘Bare Necessities’ (from The Jungle Book)
When compiling this list I was certain that all ten entries would be vocal, yet I could not avoid giving this new instrumental re-imagining of a classic song a place in the top. 10. It combines the childlike innocence of the original with drama and an ineffable uplifting aura. Without a doubt, this proves sometimes original instrumental scores can top vocals!
No. 5: Rihanna – ‘Sledgehammer’ (from Star Trek Beyond)
I’m sorry to fans of Rihanna’s latest offerings, but truthfully I thought she had lost her way. Sledgehammer, however, revived my hope. I thought that she had managed to return to celebrating her vocal capabilities and that the dramatic space ‘edginess’ worked really well in the track. Plus, I love what she is wearing in this music video and think entrants for Ru Paul’s drag race should take note. I’m also expecting big things for this on the charts! Camilla Cassidy has provided a full review of the song here.
No. 4: Halsey – ‘Castle’ (from The Huntsman: Winters War)
Perhaps the least heard of all the songs on this list; it was the film’s failing reviews that probably let this track slip under the radar. Halsey, however, brings an excellent dramatic vocal to this track against a clever orchestral composition. I think it’s one of the most impressive film scores I’ve heard in a long time and deserves some recognition.
No. 3: twenty one pilots – ‘Heathens’ (from Suicide Squad)
Certainly the wackiest of all the songs on this list, but for that reason it’s also the most interesting and enticing that pulls you in to a clever and unique vocal. The rap sections are cleverly composed alongside a high-pitch introduction to the chorus to challenge and question the listener. The song almost has its own discomfort, as you almost imagine a mad-man performing the vocal, but it works fantastically! Alex Smith provides a full review here.
No. 2: Sia – ‘Unforgettable’ (from Finding Dory)
Only narrowly missing out on the top spot is the hit song for what is bound to be one of the biggest films, and certainly the biggest animated film, of the year and Sia has done it proud! She manages to bring her unique and vulnerable vocals to the track in a child-like and innocent way, which works perfectly as the song becomes the vehicle on which to reminisce and reflect. You can read my full review of the track here, but it simply is unforgettable!
No. 1: X Ambassadors – ‘Unsteady’ (from Me Before You)
Perhaps a surprise in at Number one, and one of the less-commercially popular songs on the list, but when I first heard it I knew it had to claim the top-spot! For what is already an emotional film, this song perfectly tugs at the heart strings bringing in to your own memory the people you love and care for. It takes you to another place, allows you to reflect but at the same time has its own unique vocal and musical approach. As original movie songs go, its simply perfection. Now I challenge you to listen to it without remembering those you love, and without that tear building in your eye.
So there we have it, 2016 has certainly delivered us some film classics. We’ll just now have to wait and see if there is more to come, and who picks up that Oscar next year! Or, until then, we can just reminisce over last year’s winner…