Top iTracks

We listen to a lot of film scores here at AHOAK. In fact, none of our schoolwork gets done without instrumental tracks from one movie or another playing in the background! The titles listed below have been selected because they a) generate unforgettable auditory experiences that are emotionally evocative and rich in aural texture, and b) successfully lull you into the stories they not only accompany, but help tell and propel forward. It is safe to say that many, many great tracks have been written since moving pictures were first coupled with sound. While we have not experienced all of them yet, hundreds of them already populate our iTunes libraries. To help whittle the lot down to a more manageable roster, we have listed here only those tracks with the highest play counts. (It should be mentioned that the following great titles do not necessarily belong in great films. In fact, many scores, like the one to The Last of the Mohicans, belong in much, much better films!)

If you are new to the “film score neighborhood,” we encourage you to visit the titles we have compiled here. Comprising a sample of some of the best instrumental tracks ever written for film, we expect you will feel right at home in no time at all: you will find the members of this community—Elfman, Horner, Morricone, Williams, Zimmer, to name only a few—are very welcoming indeed!

Listening to music of any kind is an intrinsically emotional experience: music may help sustain an emotion already under way, experience a suppressed emotion more fully, or even help create a new emotion. (I use the term “emotion” here to include all forms of subjective feeling.) For example, we often turn to Mancina’s “August’s Rhapsody” when life seems to us so beautiful, we wish to draw out our sense of wonder, Tiersen’s “Summer 78” when pent-up sadness is just begging to be released, and Glennie-Smith et al.’s “Rock House Jail” when motivation (while completing, say, an assignment) is running low and a boost is desperately needed. Because of this close link between music and emotion, we have chosen to divide the selected titles into broad categories reflecting mood.


Bombastic & Invigorating
Back to the Future — “Back to the Future” (Silvestri, 1985)
Bicentennial Man — “The Machine Age” (Horner, 1999)
Dinosaur — “Prologue” (Howard, 2000)
How to Train Your Dragon — “Coming Back Around” (Powell, 2010)
Jurassic Park — “Journey to the Island” (Williams, 1993)
The Last of the Mohicans — “Main Title” & “Promontory” (Jones & Edelman, 1992)
Lawrence of Arabia — “Overture” (Jarre, 1962; 1989 re-recording by Bremner)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — “He’s a Pirate” (Badelt, 2003)
Raiders of the Lost Ark — “Washington Ending & Raiders March” (Williams, 1981)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves — “Overture & A Prisoner of the Crusades” (Kamen, 1991)
The Rock — “Hummel Gets the Rockets” & “Rock House Jail” (Glennie-Smith, Gregson-Williams, & Zimmer, 1996)
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron — “Homeland” (Zimmer, 2002)
Star Wars: A New Hope — “Main Title / Rebel Blockade Runner” (Williams, 1977)
Superman — “Main Title March” (Williams, 1978; 2006 re-recording by Ottman)


Dark & Sinister
Anastasia — “Prologue” (T. Newman, 1997)*
Batman Begins — “Molossus” (Zimmer & Howard, 2005)
Batman Returns — “Selina Transforms, Part 2” (Elfman, 1992)
Beauty and the Beast — “West Wing” (Menken, 1991)
Beetlejuice — “Main Titles” (Elfman, 1988)*
Donnie Darko — “Manipulated Living” (Andrews, 2001)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — “Hedwig’s Theme” (Williams, 2001)
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame — “Sanctuary!” (Menken, 1996)*
Inception — “Time” (Zimmer, 2010)
The Little Mermaid — “Flotsam & Jetsam” (Menken, 1989)
Moon — “Welcome to Lunar Industries” (Mansell, 2009)
Psycho — “Flight” (Herrrmann, 1960; 1997 re-recording by McNeely)
Requiem for a Dream — “Lux Aeterna” (Mansell, 2000)
Spider-Man — “Main Titles” (Elfman, 2002)*
Standard Operating Procedure — “Main Titles: Vacation in Iraq” (Elfman, 2008)
Titanic — “Building Panic” (Horner, 1997)
To Die For — “Main Theme” (Elfman, 1995)
Trois couleurs : Bleu — “Song for the Unification of Europe (Patrice’s Version)” (Preisner, 1993)*


Tender & Contemplative
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain — “La valse d’Amélie [Piano Version]” (Tiersen, 2001)
Angels in America — “Angels in America (Main Title)” (T. Newman, 2003)
Casper — “Casper’s Lullaby” (Horner, 1995)*
Dekalog — “Dekalog V (Parts 1 & 12)” (Preisner, 1989)
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso — “Cinema Paradiso” & “Love Theme” (Morricone, 1988)
Finding Neverland — “Piano Variation in Blue” (Kaczmarek, 2004)
Goodbye, Lenin! — “Summer 78” (Tiersen, 2003)
Un homme et une femme — “Un homme et une femme (Instrumental)” (Lai, 1966)*
The Hours — “Morning Passages” (Glass, 2002)
Little Children — “End Title” (T. Newman, 2006)
Love Story — “Theme of Love Story” (Lai, 1970)
The Man from Snowy River — “Jessica’s Theme (Breaking in the Colt)” (Rowland, 1982)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence — “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (Sakamoto, 1983)
Milk — “Postscript” (Elfman, 2008)*
Once Upon a Time in America — “Deborah’s Theme” (Morricone, 1984)
The Prince of Egypt — “The Burning Bush” (Zimmer, 1998)*
Quest for Camelot — “Looking Through Your Eyes (Instrumental)” (Foster, 1998)
Schindler’s List — “Theme from Schindler’s List” (Williams, 1993)
Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi — “One Summer's Day” (Hisaishi, 2001)
The Social Network — “Painted Sun in Abstract” (Reznor & Ross, 2010)
Sophie's Choice — "Stingo & Sophie Together" & “Ample Make This Bed” (Hamlisch, 1982)
Surf’s Up — “Legends” (Danna, 2007)
To Kill a Mockingbird — “Main Title” (Bernstein, 1962; 1997 re-recording by Bernstein)
Up — “Married Life” & “The Ellie Badge” (Giacchino, 2009)


Dynamic & Playful
Home Alone — “Setting the Trap” (Williams, 1990)
The Incredibles — “Life’s Incredible Again” & “The Incredits” (Giacchino, 2004)
The Pink Panther — “The Pink Panther Theme” (Mancini, 1963)
Ratatouille — “Colette Shows Him Le Ropes” (Giacchino, 2007)
Tangled — “Kingdom Dance” (Menken, 2010)
Toy Story 2 — “The Cleaner” (R. Newman, 1999)


Hopeful & Uplifting
Anastasia — “Reminiscing with Grandma” & “Finale” (D. Newman, 1997)*
Apollo 13 — “End Titles” (Horner, 1995)*
August Rush — “August’s Rhapsody” (Mancina, 2007)*
Beauty and the Beast — “Transformation” (Menken, 1991)
Brother Bear — “Transformation” (Collins, 2003)*
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs — “Introducing Flint” (Mothersbaugh, 2009)*
Dragonheart — “To the Stars” (Edelman, 1996)
Edward Scissorhands — “The Grand Finale” (Elfman, 1990)*
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial — “Escape / Chase / Saying Goodbye” (Williams, 1982)
Gladiator — “Now We Are Free” (Zimmer & Gerrard, 2000)*
Gone with the Wind — "Main Title" (Steiner, 1939; 1973 re-recording by Gerhardt)
The Holiday — “Cry” (Zimmer, 2006)
Home Alone — “Main Title from Home Alone (Somewhere in my Memory)” (Williams, 1990)*
How to Train Your Dragon — “Forbidden Friendship” (Powell, 2010)
The Lion King —“King of Pride Rock” (Rice, 1994)*
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring —“The Road Goes Ever On... (Part 1)” (Shore, 2011)*
Love Actually — “Joanna Drives Off” (Armstrong, 2003)
Meet Joe Black — “That Next Place” (T. Newman, 1998)
Mighty Joe Young — “Dedication & Windsong” (Horner, 1998)*
The Mirror Has Two Faces — “The Apology / Nessun Dorma” (Hamlisch & Streisand, 1996)*
Peter Pan — “Flying” & “I Do Believe in Fairies” (Howard, 2003)
Pocahontas — “Farewell” (Schwartz, 1995)*
Prometheus — “Life” (Gregson-Williams, 2012)
Rescuers Down Under — “Cody’s Flight” (Broughton, 1990)
St-Elmo’s Fire — “Love Theme from St-Elmo’s Fire” (Foster, 1985)
Titanic — “Titanic Suite” (Horner, 1997)


Noteworthy Tracks from Outside Film
2010 Winter Olympics (Sporting Event) — “I Believe” (Moccio, 2010)
The Blue Notebooks (Instrumental Album) — “On the Nature of Daylight,” “Horizontal Variations,” & “Written on the Sky” (Richter, 2004)
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (TV Documentary) — “Hell & Fire, Third Movement” & “Alpha” (Vangelis, 1980)*
Cirque du Soleil’s Alegría (Touring Show) — “Alegría” (Dupéré, 1994)*
Community (TV Show) — “Community Medley” (Göransson, 2009)*
Heartless: The Story of the Tinman (Online Short) — “Frozen” (Kirk, 2010)*
Invincible (Trailer Music) — “Heart of Courage” (Two Steps from Hell, 2010)*
Pushing Daisies (TV Show) — “Main Titles” (Dooley, 2007)
Survivor (TV Show) — “Ancient Voices [Extended]” (Landau, 2000)*
Variations (Instrumental Album) — “Theme (Caprice en la Mineur No. 24, De Paganini) et Variations 1-4” (Webber, 1978)
Walt Disney World’s Millennium Celebration (Theme Park Show) — “Reflections of Earth” & “Tapestry of Nations” (Greenaway, 1999)
Where the Hell is Matt? (Online Video) — “Praan” (Schyman, 2008)*


Notes: (1) Most of the above titles are available though the online media player iTunes. (2) Tracks marked with an asterisk contain vocals.

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