Film music is an obscure art form because one has to constantly talk it up if anyone is to ever be aware of its existence. There are certain scores, however, that do not need to be talked up: they are hugely popular to the fan and the neophyte alike. Unfortunately, some of them can be said to be undeserving of such fame, each for their own reason. Here is a top 5 of overrated film scores.
Batman. Let’s be clear about this: Danny Elfman’s body of work for Batman is NOT overrated. It can never be hyped enough. The inclusion of 1989’s groundbreaking score on this list is merely to underline one of film music’s greatest stories of upstaging. Chiefly, the fact that 1992’s Batman Returns was never recognized as the far superior masterwork that it is. As stupendous as the original score is, the sequel is one level above. And yet, it doesn’t feature in nearly as many playlist as the first one.
#4 Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean. Again, another case of upstaging. The victim here is Klaus Badelt. He wrote the original score of this epic film series, setting the tone that we all love and remember, and yet Hans Zimmer is the only name remembered from this adventure, because he took over composing duties for all the other films, adapting Badelt’s original themes. Hans Zimmer does have an unending list of qualities and achievements, and yes, he was Klaus Badelt’s mentor, but what is overrated here is his contribution to this franchise.
#3 Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down. One word: atmospheric. If that’s what floats your boat, then by all means, remove this title from this list; this is the score for you. However, those who prefer a somewhat more melodic and hummable approach to film music will never understand why this is one of the most talked-about Hans Zimmer scores ever. Zimmer is the one who defined rhythmic and catchy action in the 90s, and elevated it to noble levels with Gladiator, yet oddly Black Hawk Down is the first name out of so many fans’ lips.
Titanic. Is it a great score? Most certainly. An Oscar-worthy one? Few could disagree. But should it be the chief reason for James Horner’s fame? Now that is a great disservice to the rest of his body of work. Titanic is overrated because it overshadows other equal or superior works such as Willow, The Rocketeer, Braveheart and Legends of the Fall just to name a few.
#1 The Crow
The Crow. Mention to a neophyte that you’re into instrumental soundtracks and they’re unvariably respond, “Oh yeah, like The Crow, right? Great music!” It does have its highlights, to be sure, but Graeme Revell’s action and suspense music is always predominantly rhythmic and atmospheric, and The Crow is no exception. Why this uneven work sits as the only movie score on so many shelves remains a mystery. The fact that Marco Beltrami’s score for the second sequel is almost as good and yet completely ignored just adds to the frustration.