Monday, September 19, 2011

Songs I'm Obsessed With: Lord of the Rings credit music by Howard Shore

No, that isn't the title because I forgot the name of the song, it's because I'm doing multiple songs in this post.

Howard Shore has to be one of the greatest film score composers alive. His credentials are impeccable, having worked on films such as The Aviator, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Departed, and of course, The Lord of the Rings. In fact, he's so very great he is seconded only by John Williams, who is responsible for almost all the recognizable movie music you've ever heard (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park).

Other than score, though, Shore is also responsible for the lyrical music you hear at the end of each Lord of the Rings film. The first and third songs (for their respective films) were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in their respective years, and the third won (obviously, since little else can stand against it). The second was not, but it is also very much so worth noting.

The first song is called "May It Be," and it was written and composed for the closing credits of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Enya sings the lyrics to this song meant to send off a film ending with hope, determination and brotherhood, and she does this very well, if a bit inarticulately due to the echoes and ambiance abound. The lyrics, if you can hear them, convey hope and strength in dark times, just the advice Frodo and Sam needed on their solitary journey through Middle Earth. The song itself is beautifully written and performed, though it is rather inferior to the next two songs.

And just as the series enters its darker second entry, so does the ending song. The film leaves off with the halflings being led to a shortcut around the black gate by Gollum, who is, of course, plotting to have them murdered so he can reclaim the ring of power. Fitting is a piece for the creature, and thus, "Gollum's Song," the piece that leaves us thinking about just how hopeless the cause of the hobbits seems. It's a radical change from "May It Be," being full of darkness and bleakness. It is sung by Emiliana Torrini, whose voice is so piercing it seems perfect for the character the song is singing to. Sadly, this song wasn't nominated for best original song, even though it should have won. Could they not have at least considered it in place of the fucking Wild Thornberries Movie?

But hey, at least one Howard Shore piece won Best Original Song. How exactly do you end one of the best film trilogies in history? How do you cap an ending as epic, sad, happy, bittersweet and amazing as the one for Return of the King? Shore's answer is "Into the West," sung by Annie Lennox, who could not have been a more perfect candidate for the song. If you weren't completely in tears by the end of the movie, you were when the chorus of this song rang through the theater's speakers. Finally, sweet relief for the hobbits, for the fellowship, for the King, and it is just that with the lyrics. Relief from strife, comfort and contentedness. It is my second favorite movie piece ever, seconded by "Han Solo & The Princess" by John Williams from The Empire Strikes Back.

These are three songs perfect for their movies, perfect also for just about any other occasion. God, I want to see these movies again.

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