Top 10 Scores Turning 30 in 2021

Back to our musical score time machine! For this edition, we're looking back to 1991!  
Lots of top notch scores this year!  Here's a look back at the scores of the year with my list of the 10 Best Scores Turning 30!

Let's start the ranking!

Fried Green Tomatoes (Thomas Newman)
Newman infused his melodic score with bits of southern styling.  This early orchestral Newman score still has many of his hallmarks with unique instruments and interesting harmonies.  It's evocative and soulful with a hint of the lyricism he'd add to future scores.

9. Naked Lunch (Howard Shore)
This wonderfully unique score adds the dark Cronenberg material with the schizophrenic sound of Ornette Coleman's free jazz saxophone solos.  It's not the easiest listen, but Shore's musical landscape is fascinating.   

8. The Addams Family (Marc Shaiman)
Shaiman created a delightful score with sweeping main waltz, sparkling orchestrations and great sense of supporting the comedy and dark humor.  A tone-perfect orchestral comedy score is rare, and this one is always a delight to listen to.    

7. The Silence of the Lambs (Howard Shore)
Shore's dark and brooding score helped create much of the atmosphere.  The melodic themes for Lecter and Clarice are nicely woven together but never get in the way.  It has some great woodwind and string writing and great uses of some extended orchestral techniques.

6. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Brad Fiedel)
Never before has clanging percussion, grinding metal and relentless synths matched a film so well.  Even the more intimate moments are full of intensity.  It's still the most bombastic and best score in the franchise.  

5. JFK (John Williams)
Most listeners know the main trumpet theme, but the score delves much deeper into the dissonant suspense of the assassination and conspirators.  More than many Williams scores, it has some incredibly haunting and tense writing which fits the film well.
4. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Michael Kamen)
One of the biggest orchestra crowd pleasers, Kamen knocks it out of the park with just the main titles.  We get plenty of lighthearted moments, dark action cues and of course the standout romantic love theme that turned into the hit song.  Fans of bombastic action cues can look no further.  

3. The Rocketeer (James Horner)
A favorite of Horner fans, the exuberant main theme takes off many times in the score.  It's full of superhero styled action, the unabashed love theme and villain theme.  It's one of Horner's most rousing and accessible scores.  

2. Hook (John Williams)
This score truly adds the magic, tenderness and swashbuckling adventure.  Williams taps into the emotional memories of childhood and the thrill of flying.  The way he recalls and uses his bevy of themes in the finale is one of the reasons this Williams score shines.  

1. Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken)
The film is still the gold standard of Disney animation, songs and music.  Menken improved on his orchestral writing and his songs are integrated into the score with grace and purpose.  Naturally, the melodies are the standout, the songs are still the best, and the prologue and transformation sequences are some of the most magical writing for the film.  

Honorable Mentions:

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (James Horner), Backdraft (Hans Zimmer), The Prince of Tides (James Newton Howard), Sleeping with the Enemy (Jerry Goldsmith), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Cliff Eidelman), Thelma & Louise (Hans Zimmer)

Any personal favorites of yours from 1991 that I didn't include? 

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  1. From my point of view, "Beauty and the Beast" is an wonderful score from 1991. I think Alan Menken is a living legend. At the same time, when Alan Menken did very well for his collaborations with the lyricist Howard Ashman. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were friends and collaborators. When Howard Ashman died in 1991. He was 40 years old. At this moment, Alan Menken is a living legend. I think Disney is an wonderful studio at the same time. So, Alan Menken is a living legend and Howard Ashman was a legend. R.I.P. Howard Ashman (1950-1991)