Saturday, October 31, 2015

Star Wars Saturday: Which Soundtrack is the Best?

Here on BlurbMusings, it's clear that I love music. I have Music Zone articles highlighting my favorite songs at that moment in my life, and I have even had a Star Wars Saturday post noting my favorite Star Wars songs!

But which soundtrack, in its entirety, is the best?

This will only include the soundtracks of the original six movies, all composed by John Williams. While the music of The Clone Wars and Rebels is pretty good, it's only an echo of the music that Williams scored.

Why don't we rank them? Because an article can always use a good ranking. And we'll break it down with a few grades, as well. It's report card time, so I have that on the brain:

Since we're talking soundtracks, we should be listening to something. So here you go:


6. Attack of the Clones

Theme Song: B+
Battle Music: D
Repeatability: C-

I really enjoy the theme track to this movie, "Across the Stars." Even if the movie didn't get the love story across, the music portrays a tragedy of epic proportions. It is used a bit too much in this movie - every moment with Padme and Anakin and whoosh! The music comes soaring in again!

There aren't many songs that can be listened to by themselves, however. The battle music also becomes very long and forgettable, or you realize that it's music from The Phantom Menace that's being reused!. Plus, when you actually watch the movie, most of the end battle is cut up pieces of the music and not very fluid at all.

5. The Phantom Menace

Theme Song: A-
Battle Music: B-
Repeatability: B+

This soundtrack was listened to on repeat before The Phantom Menace was released in theaters. The chance to listen to new Star Wars music was too much to handle, even though certain tracks are not really memorable. However, "Duel of the Fates" is a great song, and even "Anakin's Theme" is beautiful in its simplicity.

Even though the title fanfare segues into something on the soundtrack that's different from the movie itself, the "Arrival to Coruscant" track is one of my favorites on the soundtrack because of the ending with the low strings. It segues very well into "Duel of the Fates," the second track.

I can't forgive this soundtrack for giving away such a major plot point, though. No wonder Lucasfilm is being so secretive about The Force Awakens.

4. Revenge of the Sith

Theme Song: A-
Battle Music: A-
Repeatability: B

There is a lot of pain felt in the "Battle of the Heroes" song. I do prefer it to "Duel of the Fates" in the long run. Instead of implying looming doom (like "Duel") this is proclaiming tragedy of epic proportions. I can just feel Obi-Wan's heart getting ripped out when he realizes all the horrors that are occurring.

The best songs come at the end of the soundtrack, from the Anakin/Obi-Wan and Palpatine/Yoda battles onward. The reason I place this soundtrack ahead of The Phantom Menace is because of the familiar themes heard at the end of the movie - Leia's theme, Luke's theme, and the Force theme.

3. A New Hope

Theme Song: A+ (Luke's theme, in my opinion)
Battle Music: A
Repeatability: A-

The soundtrack that started it all. It gave us some of the best themes (stated above in Revenge of the Sith) and spawned dozens of remixes. It also gave us the Cantina band and the punchiness of an entire orchestra when it is unknown whether Yavin 4 or the Death Star will explode.

This also introduced us to the idea of "suites," which were done for the opening fanfare/end credits (eventually released as a single which did very well) and "Leia's Theme." These songs weren't taken from the movie, but fleshed out into beautiful pieces that could be heard in their own right and appreciated for the brilliant music they are.

2. Return of the Jedi

Theme Song: A- (Emperor's theme? Ewoks' theme? Jabba's theme? Luke and Leia's theme?)
Battle Music: A+
Repeatability: A+

Ugh - this was a hard one to put at #2, because in my childhood I adored this album. The Ewok theme was so peppy! The Emperor's theme, with the brooding male chorus, was so creepy. And the song I would listen to on repeat was the suite for Luke and Leia's theme. It is so beautiful, but hearkens back so much tragedy from their past.

Nowadays, the battle music from Jabba's sail barge and all the different portions of the final Death Star battle are my favorites. It's very easy to place myself at just the right scene (or even just the right dialogue timing) in the movie. The soundtrack starts slowly, but ends with a bang!

1. The Empire Strikes Back

Theme Song: A+
Battle Music: A
Repeatability: A+

"The Imperial March" is the theme song that put this one on top. Not only is it perfect for the Empire, it is also iconic. Start humming that theme and pretty much anyone will join in with you, regardless if they are a Star Wars fan or not.

Throw in the simple beauty of Yoda's theme music, which pops up all over the place, and the sweeping romantic quality of Han and Leia's theme, and you have the foundation for a solid soundtrack. I've always loved the Hoth battle music, as well as much of the music that was in fact deleted from the final cut of the movie.

It was also pointed out on the Star Wars: Oxygen podcast that the oddly-sounding music from Cloud City actually sounds a lot like a siren song, reminding myth lovers of the sirens in Homer's Odyssey luring sailors to their doom. I got a kick out of that knowledge.

The best part of the soundtrack, though, is when the Millenium Falcon is going through the asteroid field. That bombastic music does a great job showing how terrifying that ordeal must have been. I adore that sequence of music.



So there you have it! The Star Wars soundtracks ranked from bottom to top - my own personal opinion, of course. Where will the soundtrack for The Force Awakens rank? Hopefully near the top, but it's going to be hard to knock off the albums that have been so iconic for so many years!


I am Claire Nat! I am a teacher and write for TouringPlans.com. I write about anything that interests me - mostly music, Olympics, and fandoms! Follow me @CeePipes or facebook.com/blurbmusings. 


More Star Wars articles by Claire Nat:
Fears and Star Wars
Why Star Wars is the Best Trilogy Ever
Obsession

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