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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Seven film scores to get you through Dead Week


For most students, the next two weeks will consist of several late coffee-fueled nights in front of a computer screen studying for finals. An often-essential component of studying is the music you listen to. For many students, retreading their favorite albums while studying can become boring, while checking out new albums is too distracting. Listening to film scores provides a happy medium for this issue. Similar to how they operate in a film, scores can put you into the study zone setting without distracting you from your important coursework. Here are seven film scores worth trying out while you study for finals.

“There Will Be Blood”

Director Paul Thomas Anderson is perhaps the king of incorporating music into his films. The soundtracks for “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia” and “Punch Drunk Love” are all exemplary of the spotlight Anderson places on his composers. This made it a surprise when Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead was tasked with scoring Anderson’s 2007 oil epic, “There Will Be Blood.” Greenwood left no doubt about his musical genius with a masterful score filled with interesting string and drum compositions that contributed to what is widely regarded as a modern American cinematic masterpiece in “There Will Be Blood.” The music that colors main character Daniel Plainview’s hardworking rise to an oil tycoon is the perfect companion to a hardworking night of studying.

“Upstream Color”

Shane Carruth, the composer for “Upstream Color,” also happens to be the film’s director, writer, producer, cinematographer and lead actor. With “Upstream Color,” Carruth made a film almost entirely independently. This makes the rhythmic and droning score led by its many overlapping synthesizers even more impressive. Anyone can listen to this and appreciate the heart and soul Carruth must’ve poured into it to make it so atmospheric. The droning and atmospheric songs are sure to cause any finals week stress to temporarily subside.


“Moneyball” is a film about loss, inspiration and contentment and composer Mychael Danna’s score reflects that in nearly every way. The Canadian composer’s blend of orchestral and electronic instruments creates a sound which is interesting, but not boastful. Three highlights on the score are “Coaching,” “It’s a Process” and “More.” Being the score to a film about perseverance through adversity, Danna’s work should be a welcome boost on a late night at the library.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Co-composed by director Benh Zeitlin and composer Dan Romer, the score of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” reflects the film’s undeniable childlike wonder. This is perhaps expected from a score to a film about a six-year-old named Hushpuppy floating on a broken-down pickup truck through a half flooded Bayou community called “The Bathtub,” but Zeitlin and Romer nailed the feeling with flying colors. Listening to the swirling strings and trumpets takes you on Hushpuppy’s journey without having to even see the film. The score also wears a strong Delta blues influence, further making it one of the most idiosyncratic film scores of all time. It is perhaps impossible for dead week anger to affect someone listening to this score.

“Friday Night Lights”

Explosions in the Sky is a band mostly known for their narratively driven instrumental post-rock albums. The band refers to each of their songs as “cathartic mini-symphonies.” The unique, almost experimental, post-rock band may have seemed to be an odd choice to score director Peter Berg’s 2004 sports drama “Friday Night Lights” about a turbulent Texas town obsessed with their high school football team, but the band’s already instrumental narrative tendencies paired with their Texas upbringing made them the perfect choice. The score is a calm and emotional 52-minute venture that is sure to push anyone through a tough night of studying.

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

Director Andrew Dominik’s epic western, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” was met with average to decent reception upon its release in 2007, but is now viewed in many film circles as a misunderstood contemporary American masterpiece. However, even in 2007 the reception of co-composers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s haunting score was highly positive. The score, while haunting, is oddly soothing with its patient and fairytale-esque strings and keys. The calming score only becomes haunting within the context of the film’s dark subject matter which is immediately hinted at just in the title.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

In 2014, composer Alexandre Desplat remarkably put out two scores that were good enough to be Oscar-nominated. One of these scores was for the World War Two drama, “The Imitation Game” while the other was for director Wes Anderson’s whimsical masterwork “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” With “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Desplat was given the difficult task of creating music native to the fictional Central European country of Zubrowka where the film takes place. In order to accomplish this, Desplat used a gregorian choir along with a host of instruments used in Central and Eastern European folk music. The result is a score that is whimsical, unique and a sin to miss out on.

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