The best film and TV soundtracks of 2021
Which film or TV show had the best music this year? We’ve gathered 8 of the best soundtracks of 2021 from the movie and television worlds.
2021 had its fair share of musical triumphs on the big and small screen. Songs that fitted climactic television moments; a cinematic score that changed the entire meaning of a movie scene.
There were a batch of brilliant music documentaries this year. Edgar Wright’s film The Spark Brothers shone a light on the overlooked Sparks duo. And the final quarter of the year was all about The Beatles, with Peter Jackson’s epic trio of TV episodes The Beatles: Get Back delighting fans and introducing the Fab Four to newcomers in glorious technicolour.
Read on for eight more great soundtracks from film and TV that we loved this year.
True Story (Netflix)
In True Story, Kevin Hart plays a comedian who reunites with his brother (Wesley Snipes) in their hometown of Philadelphia and quickly becomes mixed up in events that just keep on getting worse.
Music in the miniseries ranges from hip-hop tracks including 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” smooth Motown and disco classics, and RnB. Meanwhile the score by composers Wendy & Lisa builds up the suspense of the twisty plot.
Summer of Soul (Hulu)
Questlove’s documentary film about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival – known as the “Black Woodstock” – captures the mood and blistering talent at a festival ignored no longer. The lineup included the likes of Nina Simone, BB King, Stevie Wonder, and Sly and the Family Stone.
The electrifying music is interwoven with interviews and news clips of the civil rights movement.
The premise of Lucifer sees the titular devil solving crimes in Los Angeles. The final two series of the show were rescued by Netflix from cancellation and both were released in 2021.
Through the six series Lucifer’s flair for the dramatic saw him jumping on the grand piano at every opportunity to command the stage. This being a final season, secured by legions of fans, the cast and crew took a victory lap and ran with it, cramming in musical moments wherever they could. Season five even had a musical episode.
The finale finished with “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, concluding a soundtrack of rock songs that began with Cage The Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” back in series one.
Last Night in Soho
Music has always been expertly woven into Edgar Wright’s films as vital as story beats, a tradition that continues with Last night in Soho, the director’s 2021 horror film. Whole sequences were written to match period songs, which help to announce modern-day protagonist Sadie’s visions of1960s London.
There’s two versions of “Downtown” sung by Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the doppelgänger of Sadie – one wide-eyed and buoyant, the other a disconcerting acapella.
Marvel’s Loki got his very own series in 2021. The soundtrack composed by Natialie Holt embodies the darkness and cheekiness of the character beloved for his trickster ways and anti-hero arc.
Constant tock-tock rhythms continually remind the viewer of the threat of time running out for characters and time itself unravelling. Synths call back to classic Doctor Who, in keeping with the time travel elements and 1970s aesthetic of the TVA headquarters, whilst mournful strings bring a Nordic feel.
Meanwhile songs include an inspired deployment of “Holding Out for a Hero” in episode two, the valiant music clashing with the very unheroic actions of a hidden attacker.
It’s a Sin (Channel 4/HBO Max)
Heartbreaking AIDS drama It’s a Sin crams all the 1980s tracks possible into a soundtrack that accompanies the main characters moving into the London queer scene in 1981.
There’s the title song by Pet Shop Boys and tracks from Bronski Beat, Blondie, Soft Cell, Wham, Eurythmics, and many more.
No Time to Die
Billie Eilish’s take on the Bond Theme moves from a classic Eilish shimmering vocal to a soaring climax and back again.
The film’s composer Hans Zimmer, who also composed the score to this year’s Dune, replaced Dan Romer only three months before the original 2019 No Time to Die release date. Zimmer worked with Johnny Marr to write the soundtrack.
The resulting score is dark but full of romance and emotion, with plenty of callbacks to previous scores and of course the classic Bond sweeping string parts.
We Are Lady Parts (Channel Four)
We Are Lady Parts is a wonderful UK comedy. Amina, so shy it’s nearly a medical condition, is a PhD student and guitar virtuoso who finds herself joining an all-female Muslim punk rock band.
The resulting on-stage chemistry, and the songs, including “Voldemort Under My Headscarf,” are so perfect you’ll wish Lady Parts were a real band.
What was your soundtrack of the year? Let us know in the comments.
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