Awhile ago, I had no response to the question, “What kind of music do you like?” I could drop some favorite artists – Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Linkin Park, No Doubt, Lady Gaga – but I have no favorite genre. At some point I realized that what makes a song enjoyable to me is not the song itself, or even the artist, but how cinematic and inspiring the piece is.
I like music I can write to. I like music that I can run around the house and act out action sequences to. I like music that I can envision a movie trailer of my book to. I like music that makes my heart hurt for my characters (or other characters, if we’re talking fanfic).
Some of my best plot twists have come from listening to great music on repeat.
Surprisingly, 4/5 of my favorite artists listed above are not artists I listen to when I’m in a writing mood (Linkin Park is the exception). Maybe it’s because I have musicals/rock operas outlined for The Killers and Nine Inch Nails, so their music can’t inspire me outside of those isolated projects. But here are some of my favorite bands for cinematic writing, along with Youtube links to some of my favorite songs.
1. Two Steps From Hell – Freedom Fighters. This band does beautiful trailer music for all sorts of scenes.
2. Bear’s Den – Don’t Let The Sun Steal You Away. Actually, everything by Bear’s Den. EVERYTHINNNG. Their music makes me want to write scenes where characters make out and cry all over each other. Their music is simultaneously sexy, gut-wrenching, and cathartically depressing. Just gorgeous.
3. Muse – The entire Black Holes and Revelations album. Stephanie Meyer may have soiled Muse’s name by association, but I can’t fight how great they are.
4. Audioslave – Shadow on The Sun. I love writing antagonists to Audioslave.
5. Hans Zimmer – Creation Choral. There are a hundred different soundtracks I could recommend for this guy. Gladiator. Inception. Pirates of The Caribbean. He does scores for movies, so of course his music is cinematic. He’s one of the best.
6. One Republic – Something I Need. I think One Republic is the official band of my WIP Paradisa right now. The tone and lyrics mesh really well. But OR has a lot of songs that can be inspiring to all projects.
7. AWOLNATION – Soul Wars. I love their Megalithic Symphony album. It is grungy and rough and epic.
8. Pendulum – Propane Nightmares. Another great action scene band. This song would have gone perfectly in Kill Bill.
9. Placebo – Pure Morning. I don’t know many songs by Placebo, but I never heard a Placebo song I didn’t like. They’re more atmospheric/conceptual.
10. Coldplay – Violet Hill. Again, Coldplay is better for brainstorming concepts and character arcs than imagining scenes.