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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Justin Hurwitz's magical score for "La La Land" will make you believe that studying is another day of sun.

Justin Hurwitz's magical score for "La La Land" will make you believe that studying is another day of sun.

Seven film scores to help you study

With the fall semester in full swing, we’ve now entered dangerous territory: Midterm season. Students are pouring into libraries, turning their music on and buckling down for whatever exam comes next. If you feel like switching up your study playlist in the next few weeks, look no further than these memorable film scores. Composed as an accompaniment to the big screen, film scores make for excellent background music while working on a big assignment. While watching the films on this list, I couldn’t help but notice their musical greatness as the score helped to create worlds and stir emotions. After the credits had rolled, I wanted more of all of these films’ music, and they stand as some of the best movie music in recent memory. Check out these soundtracks from the past two years that were amazing both inside the theater and out.


Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan are a match made in movie heaven. “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” are two films with unforgettable soundtracks and excellent filmmaking, and “Dunkirk” is another triumph. With a sharp ticking clock joined by warm orchestral tones, the soundtrack to “Dunkirk” is power-hour of suspense and a compelling score for studying.

“Get Out”

While sharp social commentary was what made “Get Out” one of the most talked-about films of the year, Michael Abel’s score is an unsung contributor to the film’s wide range of scares and laughs. Combining Swahili language chants with blues, the score’s black roots make for compositions that engross listeners without taking the attention away from what’s at hand, be it the film or the next chapter of your textbook.


2016’s Oscar winner for Best Picture also had a nomination for Best Original Score, and rightfully so. Nicholas Britell’s arrangement is undeniable beauty, juxtaposing warm cellos and pianos with melodic violins. He also incorporates the “chopped and screwed” technique, taking the original cues and bending the pitches into new creations of the old. This makes for a consistent familiarity throughout the score, causing time to pass surprisingly fast between readings.

“Beauty and the Beast”

Alan Menken, the writer of the score and songs for the 1994 animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” is one of Disney’s strongest composers, and he returns for the Emma Watson-led remake. Using the songs’ melodies, Menken recreates the film’s lush and lovely world through the score, and you’ll find yourself whistling “Be Our Guest” and “Something There” while you work as the orchestra plays it in a fresh and complimentary way.

“Baby Driver”

The black sheep of this list, “Baby Driver” actually contains zero original music, instead opting for a kinetic combination of instrumentals and oldies tunes that leads to a fun study experience. Expect familiar voices and unfamiliar grooves to fill in time at the library, as this is a playlist that you can listen to while writing papers without feeling too distracted by what’s playing.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

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Michael Giacchino, whose soundtrack to “Up” still brings tears to our eyes, uses John Williams’ iconic cues from the main series’ music to craft an impressive addition to the “Star Wars’” musical repertoire, and a solid study buddy. While it has a distinctly “Star Wars” feel, “Rogue One” is also fresh and captivating on its own and doesn’t get too bogged down in paying tribute.

“La La Land”

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s vocal and dance talent divided film-goers over the musicality of “La La Land,” but no one can contest Justin Hurwitz’s magical score. Hurwitz alternates between big-band jazz charts, cues of the musical numbers and unforgettable orchestral arrangements — sometimes even doing two at once. The score to “La La Land” makes you believe that studying is another day of sun, if only for 53 minutes.

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