Film Score Friday Top 5: Ranking the “Harry Potter” scores

So we’ve got a new Potter film out this week (in case you hadn’t heard), which gives us 6 total, just enough to make a Top 5 and not have to include every score.  This list, which will be in actual ranking of quality (whereas normally try to just list and not rank) because, well, let’s face it, in terms of scoring, these films are all over the place. 

#1) John Williams – Prisoner of Azkaban: As I intimated in an earlier post on Williams’ work on the series, I consider this his strongest Potter score, and one of his best in recent memory.  Whereas the two previous (which we’ll get to), felt like merely an extension of his previous work (especially Home Alone in places), the Azkaban score really felt like he was pushing himself and his craft to new and different places.

#2) John Williams – Sorcerer’s Stone: It’s hard to put this score any lower since it established all the major musical themes.  At the same time, though, the sound of Williams’ original score is so far away from what the scores are now (a change started by Williams in the Azkaban score).  But on its own, it is a good score, but not great.  It sounds like much of Williams’ scores for kids films (as mentioned Home Alone, E.T., and others), so I didn’t feel like he was really stretching, as he later did for Azkaban.

#3) Patrick Doyle – Goblet of Fire: I still don’t know fully how I feel about this score.  On the one hand when I listen to it, I think it sounds like rejected cues from Lord of the Rings.  But, Herr Vogler informs me that it actually sounds like most of Doyle’s work, and since I don’t really know his scores, I’m going to go with his opinion on this.  As for the music itself, it is an enjoyable and I especially love the “Hogwarts’ March.”

#4) John Williams/William Ross – Chamber of Secrets: This is a strange one to rank since it really is just reworkings of a lot of material from Sorcerer’s Stone (done by Ross)with some new themes by Williams.  The new themes are good (I discussed the Lockhart/”No Ticket” connection previous), and the music overall still sounds like Williams, which means it works well together.  At the same time, though, there is nothing really to write home about.  I might rank it higher if there were more original material and not just adapting the previous material, but in the end, I still have to put it above…

#5) Nicolas Hooper – Half-Blood Prince: Truth be told, I almost put this at number four.  It shows a lot of improvement over Hooper’s previous effort in Order of the Phoenix.  Herr Vogler said it best when he stated that the problem with Hooper’s score is a lack of cohesion.  There is such a variety of musical styles, sounds, etc. that is feels like the music comes from about three different films.  Prince has a greater amount of cohesion (the Dumbledore material that comes out of “In Noctem” I enjoy), but there are still those odd cues (like “Farewell Aragog,” which I really like, but sounds like a traditional Irish tune, and use of guitar in other cues) that stick out from the rest of the musical world.  But, I really like the the album is set up more in order of appearance in the film than Order, whose album ordering irks me to no end.

Well, that will do it for today.  Go see the film, I hear its good.

2 thoughts on “Film Score Friday Top 5: Ranking the “Harry Potter” scores

  1. “Herr Vogler informs me that it actually sounds like most of Doyle’s work, and since I don’t really know his scores, I’m going to go with his opinion on this.”

    That is wise.

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