La La Land is one of the best movies of 2016. The story of two dreamers, Mia and Sebastian, told as a musical, a rare genre, garnered popular and critical acclaim. The melding of the glorious visuals and score deserves mad props – watching the movie truly is an experience for the ages. Dare I say, the movie should have won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Apart from the stunning performances of the leads Mia and Seb, played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the highlight of the movie is the musical score. The songs in the movie are jazzy since La La Land partly serves as a homage to this musical genre. Some are lively, some are sad. Each song sets to the mood to a particular scene in the movie. Let me share with you the five songs that I believe made the film a resounding success.
5. Another Day of Sun
The movie’s opening number, Another Day of Sun, wasted no time to immerse us in the colorful world of La La Land. The way it sets as a backdrop something negative – an L.A. traffic jam – to an upbeat song is brilliant, and sets the idea that the movie is something special.
The song, all about the sacrifices and struggles one faces while pursuing his dreams, coats a bittersweet message in a very lively orchestration. It’s such an apt opening number, foreshadowing the fate of the two main leads, the dreamers Mia and Seb.
The song has a really catchy beat, and I’m sure that you’ll be humming the melody after first listening.
Mia’s audition piece, Audition, is the turning point of the movie. Set against a pitch-dark background, Mia sings the song with all the passion and ferocity that she is able to muster. She gives it her all, and it pays off in the end. After performing, everything changes for Mia – she gets the role she wanted and all her dreams and ambitions come true.
Comparing this song with the others in the soundtrack, it is apparent that Audition is the biggest song of the bunch. The song’s appeal lies in the fact that everyone can relate with what Mia is singing about – everyone has struggles in order to achieve their dreams. The song is a tribute to all of us.
3. Engagement Party
Engagement Party is the unexpected entry in this ranking since it’s a piano piece and doesn’t have any lyrics. The song is played by Seb during his sister’s titular engagement party.
As it is a piano piece, it doesn’t have any apparent literal meaning. However, it imparts a feeling that is uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. When I hear the song, it makes me feel introspective. It makes me think about the mistakes I’ve done in the past, and what could have happened if I made the right choices.
2. Someone in the Crowd
Someone in the Crowd is the second piece of the movie, and the first piece which involves the lead character Mia. The song plays as Mia hesitates to join her flatmates to a high-profile party in Hollywood. Mia’s roommates try to convince her to join as she might find the titular someone in the crowd. That someone could make her dreams of becoming an actress a reality.
Initially, the song and the scene where it appears seem very cheesy – basically a group of girls preparing for and singing about a party. Upon listening a bit more and having a second go at the movie, it became apparent to me that the song is really well made.
The song has a great structure – there’s a brilliant break in the midpoint of the song when only the orchestra is playing which gets me every time.
1. City of Stars
The song won the movie the Oscar for Best Song, and it’s not hard to see why. The song is the centerpiece of the movie – this is the song which Seb and Mia sang during their relationship’s high point. Even if there are no lyrics, the song conveys so much emotion; you’d be hard-pressed to hear the song and not think about Seb and Mia’s story.
When thinking about La La Land, this is the song you’d think about first. It’s hopeful; it’s heartbreaking; it’s introspective; it’s amazing. There are not enough words to describe how great the song is.
Check Out My Other Article
If it’s the colors of La La Land that you’re interested in, check out my other article, The Color Dynamics of La La Land.