Yes, the title is a pun. I regret nothing.
Seriously though, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have an iPod. How did I make an entrance before I could push both double-doors open at the same time with the Lord of the Rings soundtrack playing in the background? Those were dark times. I will admit, I am a music buff in the same way that Gaston was a fine arts buff—anything with a catchy beat is fair game. And some haters might criticize for all the terrible music I listen to, but I’m afraid I can’t hear them over the Prince of Egypt soundtrack blasting in my ears.
In some ways, writing with music in the background can be a good way to get into the writerly mood. On the other hand, listening to the wrong music for a scene can stop up the tubes faster than a family fourthmeal at Taco Bell. Katy Perry does very little for dramatic deathbed speeches. Trust me on this.
Other times it’s nice to write in silence, but speaking from the POV of a college student living in a dorm where one false move could punch a hole through the paper screens they call walls, that’s not always an option. Not to mention the fact that sometimes I can’t hear my own thoughts over the sound of my other thoughts talking too loud. For those cases I find throwing on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and cranking up the tunes is a workable solution.
So, with that in mind, here are some songs that I personally enjoy listening to while writing certain moods or scenes. Lots of them are from movie soundtracks, which I find especially useful since they often don’t have vocals and instead focus entirely on the feeling of the scene; as a result, in this case I chose songs based on their general sound as opposed to their lyrics.
Keep in mind that these are my personal picks, and not an objective list. You may like some of them, you may hate all of them; just give a few a listen to see what you think, and hopefully you’ll find something useful. This list is subject to change; if you have your own song to recommend, leave it in the comments and I’ll check it out.
Good for writing fights, chases, high energy stuff.
· A.R. Rahman & MIA, O…Saya: link
· Audioslave, Gasoline: link
· Joan Jett, Bad Reputation: link
· Chemical Brothers, Escape 700: link
· Florence + the Machine, Heartlines: link
· Deadmau5, Ghosts N Stuff (ft Rob Swire): link
o Extended Cut: link
· Lady Gaga, Judas: link
· Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Threshold: link
· Metallica, For Whom the Bell Tolls: link
· Restruct, Change: link
· The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army (Glitch Mob Remix): link
· Daft Punk, Derezzed: link
For intense scenes with a slightly slower pace.
· AWOLNation, Sail: link
· Florence + the Machine, the Dogs Days Are Over: link.
· Oh Land, Sun of a Gun: link
· Johnny Hollow, This Hollow World: link
· Loreena Mckennitt, Kecharitomene: link
· Muse, Undisclosed Desires: link
· Vanessa Carlton, Dark Carnival: link
· Frou Frou, Holding Out for a Hero: link
· Birthday Massacre, Pins and Needles: link
· Bear Mccreary, All Along the Watchtower: link
· Eminem, Lose Yourself: link
Scenes that are generally upbeat, but sometimes with a darker undertone. Yes, I know that description makes no sense. Words are hard.
· Hugo, 99 Problems: link
· Per Qualche Dollaro in Più: link
· How to Train Your Dragon, New Tail: link
· Johnny Clegg, Brave New World: link
· MIA, Paper Plaines: link
· MGMT, Kids: link
· Muse, Feeling Good: link
· Jesca Hoop, Tulip: link
· Jonsi, Sticks & Stones: link
· Brother Bear, Transformation: link
Songs with a medium pace and a more minor key.
· Loreena Mckennit, Mystic’s Dream: link
· Imogen Heap, Canvas: link
· Shiny Toy Guns, Cold War: link
· Emiliana Torrini, Gollum’s Song: link
· The Gravel Road: link
· Lisbeth Scott, Where: link
· District 9: link
· Mountains of Thunder: link
It's like viagra for the written word!
· Beyonce, Halo: link
· The Beatles, Hello Goodbye: link
· Queen, Somebody to Love: link
· Barry Manilow, Can’t Smile Without You: link
· The Cranberries, Dreams: link
· Jason Mraz, Plain Jane: link
· American Mouth, Flightless Bird: link
· James Horner & Celine Dion, My Heart Will Go On: link
These songs contain a lot of motion and a steady rhythm that goes well with writing travel scenes. I threw in a couple with more exotic sounds as well.
· Rusted Root, Send Me On My Way: link
· The Proclaimers, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles): link
· Secret of Kells, Epicy: link
· Two Mules For Sister Sara: link
· Loreena Mckennitt, Marco Polo: link
· Lebo M, I Want to See the Moon: link
· Sanctuary Soundtrack: link
For those moments when your character isn’t jumping off the roof of a building.
· Milagres, Glowing Mouth: link
· The Village, Race to Resting Rock: link
· Concerning Hobbits: link
· Enya, One by One: link
· Horse Feathers, Thistled Spring: link
· How to Train Your Dragon, Romantic Flight: link
· Jesca Hoop, Enemy: link
Slower, quieter songs. Good for scenes of death, loss, or goodbyes.
· Black Beauty Theme: link
· The Chronicles of Narnia, Evacuating London: link
· Dido & A.R. Rahman, If I Rise: link
· Gary Jules, Mad World: link
· Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby (instrumental): link
· Annie Lennox, Into the West: link
· Loreena Mckennitt, Full Circle: link
· Dido, The Day Before the Day: link
· The Mighty Rio Grande, This Will Destroy You: link
· Fullmetal Alchemist OST, Bratja: link
Holy shit, that got a lot longer than expected. This is why I shouldn’t be allowed to start listing things.