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Music Recommendations

Movie Soundtracks

Allison Lo

The first thing that comes to mind when people think of movies is usually the characters… or the plot... or even the special effects. But one aspect of film that is often overlooked is the music. Sure, everyone knows songs from movies like Frozen and Titanic, but hardly anyone stops to listen to the actual soundtrack of most movies.

Although they are often overlooked, movie soundtracks are instrumental (ha ha) to the full movie experience. They create a unique atmosphere for every film, reflecting the feelings of the characters and the mood of the story. Most people don’t realize how much the music in the background affects their emotions (trust me, without the music, every iconic movie scene becomes extremely bland). Film scores are just one of those things that people only notice when they’re gone. Personally, I like listening to movie music because it makes me feel like I’m experiencing the movie all over again. 

No movie experience is ever the same, especially because each composer has a different style. While composers like Alan Menken are major influences for modern styles of film music, other composers like Hans Zimmer and Alexandre Desplat capture darker themes in their music.

Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer has written music for many suspenseful thrillers such as Inception, Interstellar, and The Dark Knight trilogy. He is known for incorporating different instruments into scores depending on their themes. For example, he uses a broken piano for the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack and organ music for Interstellar. Even the music for The Lion King is incredibly powerful – anyone who didn’t cry when Mufasa died probably isn’t human.

Alan Menken
Disney princess movies may be famous for their theme songs, but their soundtracks are definitely worth listening to as well. I love Disney songs, so with his work on movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tangled, and Hercules, I can definitely say that Alan Menken is one of my favorite soundtrack composers.

Michael Giacchino
Pixar movies like Up are famous for being emotional rollercoasters. Michael Giacchino, the composer behind Up, has composed film scores for other Pixar movies such as Inside Out, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. Giacchino’s film scores often consist of a simple theme with variations that are happy, sad, full of excitement, or even reminiscent. 

John Williams
One of the most widely known movie soundtrack composers in cinematic history, John Williams created famous soundtracks for Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park. Although he uses more traditional instruments and orchestral elements in his compositions, his iconic soundtracks are unlike any other.

Movie soundtracks are a great choice if you’re looking for music to listen to while studying. 

They aren’t overly distracting, and you can listen to tracks from your favorite movies to relax or to make homework more exciting (which definitely isn’t a bad idea). If you’re like me and you enjoy getting lost in the feeling and atmosphere of movies, then soundtracks are the perfect type of music for you. 


Latin Artists

Saagar Sanghavi

Though we often consider mainstream “pop music” to be the only form of modern music, countries around the world have evolved their music styles and formed new genres in recent years as technology continues to influence people worldwide. Kpop, for one, became popular through PSY’s “Gangnam Style” (which I, by the way, still despise) and Bollywood gained recognition with popular item numbers including “Sheila ki Jawani” and “Chammak Challo”.  Latin Pop has been also making a rise, with Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando” and “El Perdon” topping the charts not only in Latin America, but also in the United States and across Europe.  After careful curating over four hours worth of Latin Pop music, I compiled some of my personal favorite artists and titles in the genre. Check out the videos below and see which ones you want to add to your next Spotify playlist.

Daddy Yankee                                                                                                                                     Puerto Rican Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, also known as Daddy Yankee, recently swept through Spanish-speaking nations across South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico with his record-breaking single, “Limbo”. Inspired by the popular Native Caribbean “limbo” game, Daddy Yankee created an anthem with an upbeat, catchy buzz that makes listeners want to jump out of their seats and dance. Reaching out to people as far away as Croatia and Thailand, “Limbo” was a phenomenal success. Personally, I think that not only does it make for great workout music, but it helps liven the mood while doing chemical research or any kind of menial busy work as well. Some of my other personal favorites from Daddy Yankee include “Sigueme y Te Sigo”, “La Nueva y La Ex”,  “La Noche de los Dos”, and  “Lovumba”. Each having it’s own contagious rhythm, Daddy Yankee’s titles are among my top choices.

Don Omar
Making a huge appearance with “Danza Kuduro”, Don Omar’s reggae-pop style has a unique feel that I personally enjoy. While he often “borrows” motifs from other artists, each of his songs have very distinct sounds that are unlike any. Among my favorites, and his most popular, are “Salió el Sol”,  “Taboo” and  “Perdido en tus Ojos”.

While not as upbeat and exciting as the previous two artists, Camila has a more melancholy, blues-rock feel that I personally think is interesting and conveys powerful emotions through the tonality and dynamic contrast. After I first heard “Todo Cambio” and “Mientes” in Spanish class, this group caught my attention and soon became a common artist on my playlist. Songs such as “De que me sirve la Vida” and “Perdón” are among their top hits, and I personally found them to be a refreshing change in style from most of my other favorites. 


Classical Artists

Ethan Qi

When confronted with the question “what is classical music?,” dull and ultimately old-fashioned songs best suited for background music or while studying come to mind.  Many people consider classical music a dying genre, and sadly, they are not incorrect to assume so. Over the past several decades, classical music has been on a relatively steady decline. Orchestras throughout the country and around the world have been in dwindling; funding has decreased as donors are more than reluctant to contribute money to a genre with no future. Classical music radio stations have also been on decline, experiencing similar problems to the orchestras. Above all, the increased media focus on pop and rock superstars has fostered the idea of the respective genres as “cool” and as a result, more and more young people are turning towards different genres of music today. Classical music has somewhat become a “niche” market, and with an increasingly aging generation, the future of classical music depends on the younger generations. If it is to be kept alive, younger generations need to detach themselves from the cacophony of rock music and blinding  lights of pop. 

The hope rests in the fact that growing up in a society where information is so readily accessible, we have inevitably been exposed to some classical music. The first few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth, or Strauss’s Blue Danube, are almost universally recognizable, even if people don’t know what they’re recognizing. If one wants to get acquainted with classical music, they should start from the very basics (the aforementioned pieces are a good starting point), and build and discover more music as they familiarize themselves with the vast world of classical music. Some good tips are as follows: 

  • Pay attention the next time you go shopping, dine in a restaurant, or watch movies or TV shows. 
  • Listen to and familiarize yourself with famous composers. 
  • If you don’t know where to start, search for a list of “best classical music” 
  • Listen to what you already know

The Six Major Periods:

Medieval: Pre- 1400
Renaissance: 1400-1600
Baroque: 1600-1750 Highly structured, intricate ornamentation, little dynamic variation (Bach) 
Classical: 1750-1820 Structured, elegant, without many rich chords (Mozart, Beethoven) 
Romantic: 1820-1900 Emotional, rich chords, flexible rhythmic interpretation (Chopin, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky) 
Contemporary: 1900-Present Basically anything (Shostakovich, Bartok) 

The world of classical music is immense, and this list is by no means comprehensive at all. Listen as you go, and you’ll get to know what you like and dislike. 


French Artists

Sudarshan Kannan

The land of croissants and baguettes, as well as internationally unpopular cars, France certainly exports some of the best rap and house music I’ve ever found. It’s funny, because one look at me, and you would never expect me to ever consider listening to French music. To be honest, you’re probably right. In the past when I chose the music I listened to, I usually tended to stick to familiar artists such as Jay-Z, Maroon 5, and Eminem. All of that changed, however, when I was hanging out with a friend before track practice, and I asked her if we could split the earbuds. At first, I was a little surprised when hearing French music out of the earbuds, as neither one of us spoke French, and even the artist’s name, Stromae,  was pretty odd. Anyways, I came home that night and the first thing I did was look Stromae up. What started with the click of a few keys eventually became an obsession, and now I listen to more French music than any other genre.

If you are more into the house and EDM brand, Stromae is your best bet, with hit songs “Alors En Danse” and “Papaoutai” reaching the top of the charts throughout Europe. One of the unique characteristics of Stromae’s music is his ability to blend in various instruments and vocals along with the computer produced aspects, something that is hard to find in most American EDM. Whether you want to get pumped up for a workout or simply want to relax, listening to some Stromae definitely would not be a bad idea.

Maitre Gims
Maitre Gims, on the other hand, produces some of the most “turnt” music I’ve ever heard. It’s pretty hard to describe, because all you have to do is listen to “Laissez Passer”, which is my clear favorite. If you thought Adam Levine hits high notes well, Maitre Gims clearly one-ups him on the playing field.