First, apologies for how belated this is.  Second, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t usually enjoy listening to film and TV scores.

Its not that I don’t find them interesting, or that I groan every time I have to review a composer reel for work (though I will if I have to listen to 12 composer reels in a day) – I just don’t think to put on a score for pleasure listening.  With the Golden Globe nominations announced yesterday, I just had to give it up to Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor – their music for The Social Network might be the first film score I’ve actually had on repeat outside of the office.

Whoever’s idea it was to pair a composer with an angst rock icon for a film about an angsty, slightly misanthropic college student should be patting themselves on the back right now.  Prior to The Social Network, Reznor had very little scoring experience (though has written tracks for a variety of projects) and most music supervisors will tell that it’s not always easy to get an entire team on board with a musical risk.  The result is fresh, nuanced and elegant – I loved it in the theatre and I think I might love it even more on my iPod.  The score not only subtly elevated the film without being pretentious or distracting, but is a compelling listening experience on it’s own.  Combining digital/electronic sounds with simple piano melodies is the perfect companion to a movie about youth in revolt and the dual nature of the internet – both keeping people in touch and putting more space between us.

“Hand Covers Bruise”

Right off the bat the music establishes such a specific tone – something is coming, building, on the horizon.  A new day is dawning.

“In Motion”

and “Soft Trees Break The Fall”

These are the second and final cues in the film respectively.  Just listen to them one after another – can you believe these are from the same score?  The instrumentation is totally different, but they both have this feeling of swelling energy and going after big things.

“3:14 Every Night”

My favorite example of the union of digital and organic.  The distortion is ominous.  At about a minute in three piano notes are heard, repeated over and over.  The notes so clearly communicate that something is wrong, that something is unraveling.  Usually, I try not to listen to scores until I see the film, but in the case of The Social Network – I wished I could have had a go at guessing the story behind this particular cue first.

“Pieces Form the Whole”

Another fantastic cue illustrating the above, much more lush, but still distant and abrasive.

“In the Hall of the Mountain King”

I practically applauded at the end of this sequence in the film.  Like the entire score for The Social Network, Ross and Reznor took something traditional that we all know (in this case a big budget film score) and turned out something contemporary and completely unexpected.  From the awesomely long build before it exploded, to the grinding, crackling overlay about 45 seconds in, it’s unique and fantastic.

Other highlights:

“Intriguing Possibilities”

The Social Network (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) is available for purchase on iTunes now.