Top 10 Soundtrack Composers

A lot of you NaNoWriMo participants are sharing your Spotify playlists. I’d share mine, but I’m super picky about what songs I add, so I want to build it up a bit more first. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to count down a list (because who doesn’t love lists?) of my favorite score composers, since that’s where I find most of my writing music. Not all of them are from my NaNo playlist, but a lot of them have a song or two or ten in there.

#10 John Williams

I include John Willams in the list mostly out of respect. He’s such a talented composer! Personally, I’m not a huge fan of his style, but the mob would throw bricks through my windows if I didn’t at least mention him.

In case you don’t know who John Williams is, he’s responsible for the music in a little production called Star Wars.

#9 Alexandre Desplat

Two words: Harry Potter. Why is Desplat so low on the list? Well…the Potter soundtracks are fantastic, but when you listen to them all in a row, they start to blend together. Maybe that’s just because they’re so long? Either way, Lily’s Theme (Deathly Hallows) is definitely my favorite track.

#8 James Horner

Of all the entries in the list, Horner is probably the composer I listen to least frequently. He takes the eighth spot because a few of his tracks really stand out to me (namely a handful from his Avatar work). I really like the tribal feel in that score.

#7 Steve Jablonski

If you ask me, the Transformer movies are pretty bad. For a lot of reasons. The soundtrack, however, is not one of those reasons. Jablonski is an amazing composer.

#6 Trevor Rabin

Rabin makes the list as the only non-fantasy style entry. I refer mostly to his work for National Treasure, which is one of my favorite films of all time. The adrenaline-packed soundtrack is a big reason why.

#5 Thomas Bergersen

Okay, so Bergersen doesn’t compose strictly for soundtracks, but his work does find its way into a lot of trailers, so that counts, right? I mean, come on. The guy’s amazing. Just check out his albums called Illusions and Sun, among others.

#4 Harry Gregson-Williams

The lack of Gregson-Williams music on Spotify always disappoints me. He did such a brilliant job in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Why is that soundtrack so stinking hard to find anywhere?

#3 John Powell

This guy is all over my NaNoWriMo playlist. Simply amazing. So emotional, all over the spectrum. I can’t think of very many soundtracks more perfect than How to Train Your Dragon, can you?

#2 Hans Zimmer

You thought Zimmer would take the top spot, didn’t you? Well, not quite. He is, however, the absolute master when it comes to film scores. He’s everywhere, and he always delivers the best of the best.

#1 Hajime Wakai and Koji Kondo

Two people in one spot? Nate, you wretched cheater! Hear me out. I gave the top spot to both Wakai and Kondo because of one single soundtrack: Skyward Sword. No other soundtrack, film or game, has made me feel so many emotions so intensely. Never. Not once. While Koji Kondo did most of the music for the whole Legend of Zelda series, he only supervised for Skyward Sword, leaving Hajime Wakai (and a few others) to direct the bulk of the soundtrack. Hence, they share the spot.


Who’s on your writing playlists? Do you have a favorite soundtrack composer or two? Let me know! In the meantime, have a great day.

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9 thoughts on “Top 10 Soundtrack Composers

  1. Very nice list, Nate! But John Williams should have at least been in the top three. Besides Star Wars, he did Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, Superman, Indiana Jones, and so many more. That’s my opinion. πŸ™‚ Also, I really like Thomas Newman, he would definitely have been on my top ten. But great list overall! I will have to check out some of these names I’ve never heard of. πŸ™‚

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    1. Hehe I knew I’d ruffle a few feathers with my low ranking of Mr. Williams. Yeah, those soundtracks are all super iconic, but I’m…well, I’m just not the biggest fan, I guess. I can’t quite explain why. To me, his style is too…chipper? Posh? I don’t know.

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  2. I have such a weird assortment of people. But speaking on the HP soundtracks, I really like the “Saving Buckbeak” track, “Harry and Hermoine” and “Journey to the Cave.” πŸ˜„ I think I’ve save Lily’s theme, too.

    Soo I have a lot of James Newton Howard, Daft Punk, Nicholas Hooper, The Glitch Mob, Hans Zimmer… I go everywhere to find songs, apparently.

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  3. Yay, soundtracks! πŸ™‚ John Powell is absolutely my favorite, but I also really like Desplat, Horner, and Zimmer. And I agree with you on John Williams- I don’t get all the hype about his soundtracks. My other favorite would probably be Howard Shore, who did the LotR and The Hobbit soundtracks. Did you ever listen to Desplat’s soundtrack for “The King’s Speech”? It’s perhaps not the best for writing fantasy, but it’s great fun to listen to while doing other things. And do you have a favorite of Harry Gregson-Williams’ soundtracks?

    I hadn’t heard of a few of the ones you mentioned, so now I’ll have to go listen to those! Thank you for the list!

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    1. I did listen through The King’s Speech a while ago, but I don’t remember much about it. Perhaps I’ll have to refresh my memory. Howard Shore *almost* made the list instead of Desplat, but…idk, coin toss. I’d have to go with Shrek as my favorite HGW soundtrack. But some of the tracks for the Narnia films are awesome too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You and I have similar musical tastes. I enjoy listening to most of the composers you’ve mentioned, although I don’t listen to music when I write. I find it distracting!

    I’m going to follow you, since you seem to be interested in both fiction and music, the two great loves of my life.

    Just out of curiousity, do you write music? I’m trying to write both a novel and music. If you compose, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the process of making music.

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    1. It’s great to have you around! No, I don’t compose music. It’s one of those things that I would love to study in an alternate life lol. But I have the highest respect for people who do compose music, because they’re super talented!

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