Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music An Idiot’s Guide to Hans Zimmer Soundtracks

An Idiot’s Guide to Hans Zimmer Soundtracks

Print Arts and Lit Editor, Maddie Conlan, provides a breakdown of the film soundtracks of legendary composer, Hans Zimmer.
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Image: Flickr via Trey Ratcliff

Since the dawn of time, also known as the creation of my Spotify account, I have been one of Hans Zimmer’s top listeners. While some people can flex that they were in the 0.001% of listeners for massive artists like Taylor Swift or Arctic Monkeys, my Spotify Wrapped is holding down the Hans Zimmer superfan fort.

Stats-FM has told me that I am the person who has listened to “Oogway Ascends”, from the iconic Kung Fu Panda soundtrack, more than the average person, to the extent that I was at one point the top listener. It is this devotion to Zimmer’s soundtracks and hyper-fixation on certain songs, that makes me more than qualified to give an idiot’s guide to the composition of Hans Zimmer.

Why Hans Zimmer?

Zimmer has been a juggernaut of film scores for decades. His recent achievement is that he won the Oscar for Best Original Score in 2021, which was for Dune. Alongside this, he has become a soundtrack staple in films directed by Christopher Nolan, animated films, and superhero films. While masters such as John Powell, who did the score for How to Train Your Dragon, and Ludwig Göransson, who created the masterpiece that is the Oscar-winning Oppenheimer soundtrack, are also enjoyable to listen to, no one takes the cake of emotion and composition quite like Zimmer does. With over one hundred composed soundtracks and scores, Zimmer truly is the master of his craft.

On my own Spotify account, my favourite playlist is my ‘instrumentals that make me feel alive.’ I use this playlist, all fourteen hours of it, as my soundtrack for reading, doing work and even cleaning. I am not shy to admit about half of this playlist consists of Zimmer’s compositions as I just adore everything he has created.

From Past to Present:

Zimmer started composing scores back in the 80s and got his first nomination for an Academy Award in 1988 for Rain Man. While Zimmer is known for his more famous pieces in Pirates of the Caribbean and Interstellar, he also composed the soundtracks to cult classics such as Thelma & Louise (1991) and A League of Their Own (1992).

Zimmer’s big break arguably came when he composed the original The Lion King soundtrack in 1994. He won his first Oscar with this soundtrack and would go on to win one more Oscar and be nominated a further ten times, in the next few decades, cementing himself as one of the best composers of our time.

With over one hundred composed soundtracks and scores, Zimmer truly is the master of his craft.

Zimmer worked often with animated films. Alongside The Lion King and the aforementioned Kung Fu Panda, Zimmer also composed The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Road to El-Dorado (2000), and Madagascar (2005). Alongside his tight hold on the animated world, Zimmer was also responsible for some of the most amazing action movie soundtracks such as Gladiator (2000) and Batman Begins (2005). Zimmer would go on to work with Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar, a further five times.

This wide range of incredibly popular films shows the appeal of Zimmer’s composition style and flair. If you have never paid attention to film scores, or belong to the John Powell or Howard Shore supremacy tribe, I present to you a list of my favourite scores and the best tracks within them…

The Lion King (1994) – “This Land”

Interstellar (2014) – “Cornfield Chase, Afraid of Time and Mountains”

Dune: Part Two (2024) – “Only I Will Remain and Worm Ride”

Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End (2007) – “One Day”

The Prince of Egypt (1998) – “Red Sea”

Kung Fu Panda (2008) – “Oogway Ascends” and “Training Po”

Events and Stage Presence:

In modern-day 2024 you can now find wonderful Hans Zimmer concerts in almost every major city. Whether this be by candlelight, like the one I was lucky enough to see in Cardiff, or the experience where the films play behind an orchestra, there is a whole world, specifically The World of Hans Zimmer, that you can go to enjoy Zimmer’s composition, as well as celebrate with other fans.

During my candlelight concert, I saw a string quartet during the Christmas period. It was a beautiful way to experience the music and has created a memory that I won’t forget. I’m desperate to go to another candlelit concert as I enjoyed the first one so much.

As someone who never used to like any form of classical or instrumental music, I credit Zimmer with my love of the emotional and happy tracks he composes and produces. I sincerely hope you will give this genre a try.

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