By Emem Ema
There are certain songs I cannot get out my head. No thanks to the hair stylist at the salon murdering Celine Dion’s “My Heart will Go On” or a friend who was permanently on repeat belting out “And I…I….will always love you!” the theme song to Whitney Houston’s Bodyguard. Oh let’s not forget “Pretty Woman…Walking Down the Street” or how about “Simba’s Pride” from the Lion King?
Before I watched the movie Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, I bought the CD (yeah, I am old fashioned like that), then my curiosity drove me to go watch it only to see how the music complemented the movie.
Music creates a connection or triggers a kind of nostalgia for people who have watched a movie or trying to decide to watch a movie, when you hear it several times on radio or any other platform. It also creates a mood in the movie depending on the scene it is being used for. How many times have you heard the famous whistle intro that makes everyone remember Clint Eastwood in the western Good, the Bad, the Ugly or the eerie strings intro that makes us all remember The Godfather?
The Twilight series, which has sold 3.3 million copies over three albums had various artistes clamouring to be a part of the soundtrack album, why because of the success of the previous albums and the cult following of the story. Michael Bay (Transformers director) uses music in a really important way. He’s a filmmaker who cut scenes to songs to bring that emotion into his movies. Gone are the days of creating a soundtrack around something that lacks a strong musical presence.
The movie, Slumdog Millionaire’s soundtrack did a great deal of good for it in terms of sales, marketing, visibility and even influenced a new “Indie-pop” sound for music in the period the movie was released. Sometimes the soundtrack of a movie attracts people who would ordinarily not see that type of movie to go see it…Kill Bill anyone? Jay Z pulled some star power in executive producing the Great Gatsby soundtrack.
Also the almost easy way of an artiste getting an Oscar, not as an actor, is to take part in the creation and performance of the soundtrack or theme music of an Oscar-worthy film: Glory (Selma) won an Oscar in 2015 for Common and John Legend, in 2012 Adele got an Oscar for Skyfall, the James Bond theme song and this year Sam Smith for the songWriting on the Wall, the theme song for the James Bond movie Spectre.
Artiste, Lorde(Royals) was very involved in the soundtrack for the third instalment of the Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay –Part One (2014), she performed the lead single, “Yellow Flicker Beat”. The track list revealed and featured a list of big names like Charli XCX, The Chemical Brothers, Chvurches, a Kanye West remix, and a collaboration between Pusha T, Q-Tip, Haim, Stromae, and Lorde.
Tade Ogidan’s Madam Dearest is one of the best uses of a soundtrack by a Nigerian movie, Also Tunde Kelani’s Campus Queen I remember seeing the video with Sound Sultan, air for weeks on several music video channels. I also met Dapo Torimiro shortly after he was done producing the soundtrack album for RMD’s Out of Bounds, in fact that was one of the first conversation points for us.
10 HIGHEST SELLING MOVIE SOUND TRACKS OF ALL TIME
10. FOOTLOOSE (1984)
Estimated Sales: 15 million Copies
The film is a delicious hunk of 80s cheese that made Kevin Bacon a star. It obviously struck a nerve with its teenage audience as although the film had mixed reviews, soundtrack sales were phenomenal.
Most Popular track: ‘Footloose’ – Kenny Loggins
9. THE LION KING (1994)
Estimated Sales: 15 million Copies
The Lion King was one of Disney’s biggest ever hits, grossing $951m. Asides garnering critical acclaim for its stunning animation, compelling story…its music was also a huge contributor to its success. Hans Zimmer won an Oscar for the score, Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice were nominated three times for Best Original Song, winning for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”.
8. FORREST GUMP (1994)
Estimated Sales: 19 million Copies
The Forrest Gump soundtrack is a snapshot of America from the 50s through to the 80s. It was made up of some solid, excellent and s timeless tunes that reflected the best moments of the six time Oscar winning classic.
Most Popular track: “Break On Through (To The Other Side)”- The Doors
7. TOP GUN (1986)
Estimated Sales: 20 million Copies
A decent feel-good soundtrack! One of the definitive ‘high-concept’ films of the 80s, Top Gun inspired a generation to join the navy, get a Maverick haircut and listen to Kenny Loggins more than government guidelines recommend.
Most Popular track: “Take My Breath Away”- Berlin
6. PURPLE RAIN (1984)
Estimated Sales: 23 million Copies
Cult musical drama Purple Rain saw Prince’s film debut. The movie grossed $70 million dollars and featured two bona fide Prince classics in ‘When Doves Cry’, as well as the title track Purple Rain.
Most Popular track: “Purple Rain” by Prince
5. GREASE (1978)
Estimated Sales: 26 million Copies
The royalties goldmine…Grease, is a musical about being in high school in your 30s. The movie and its soundtrack, captured the imagination of audiences the world over, turning a $6m budget into a worldwide gross of $395m.
Most Popular track: “You’re The One That I Want” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
4. TITANIC (1997)
Estimated Sales: 28 million
It’s no surprise that the world’s biggest grossing film (until Star Wars), also boasted an enorma-selling soundtrack. Originally, James Cameron wanted Enya to write the score for Titanic, but ultimately turned to composer James Horner. The Celine Dion-laced song is the soundtrack to a million funerals.
Most Popular track: “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion.
3. DIRTY DANCING (1987)
Estimated Sales: 28 million Copies
Nobody puts Dirty Dancing’s soundtrack in the corner. The song, “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” won a Golden Globe, a Grammy, and an Oscar for Best Original Song!
Most Popular track: “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
2. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977)
Estimated Sales: 28 million Copies
This film made disco the highest form of Western music, part of the reason the PG cut of the original R-rated film released in cinemas, was to make the already popular movie a hit among a younger audience as well. The PG version featured electric dance floors and enormous lapels.
Most Popular track: “Night Fever” by The Bee Gees.
1. THE BODYGUARD (1992)
Estimated Sales: 37 million
The best selling soundtrack of all time by a huge margin! Indeed, both Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston were at their peak in 1992, plus Whitney Houston had one of the most extraordinary voices in the history of pop music, but the most famous song from the film, and of Houston’s career, almost never happened if not for Kevin Costner’s suggestion for Whitney to record a version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” after the original song chosen was used for another movie.
Most Popular track: Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You”.
Some of my favourite movie soundtracks till date remain; Set it Off, Waiting to Exhale, Soul Food, Nottinghill, Jason’s Lyric, The Bodyguard and of course Half of a Yellow Sun (had to throw that in there)
A movie soundtrack is also a source of revenue for a movie, when properly done, it can sell a lot of copies and bring the movie into more relevance, and you cannot underestimate the power of good music. When picking a song/songs for a movie soundtrack, the producers should pay attention to the type of music to ensure it aligns with the movie’s theme, target audience etc. the artiste should resonate with the general public and have enough star power or following to pull their fan base to seeing the movie.
I noticed the Yoruba movie producers, have a penchant for Tope Alabi’s music/talent as she seems to sing most of the songs for their movies, I will ask why as soon as I get the opportunity to buy it, sorry she seems to work for their productions and perhaps the audience.
I look forward to when a Nigerian movie will fully utilise a near-perfect soundtrack in the near future. Nigerian music has a huge following and this has to be explored and exploited in the most creative and purposeful ways. To be clear, a soundtrack is not the weird scary sound you hear in a Nollywood movie, when something creepy is about to go down.
– Emem is the CEO of ONE Management, a Nigeria-based media strategy and support email@example.com