This list had been finalized before I saw “Babylon” — “The Batman” was number one — but the indelible music that fuels this film shoved everyone else out of the way, even barreling into my dreams. I thoroughly enjoyed Damien Chazelle’s lush ode to a bygone era of Hollywood, with unforgettable turns from Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, and Brad Pitt. The movie may not always be greater than the sum of its admittedly incredible parts, but holy moly is Oscar-winner Justin Hurwitz’s score absolutely phenomenal. His work for the three-hour epic required more than twice the amount of music Hurwitz has previously composed for one project and took three years to complete.
You might think, considering the time period, that 1920s jazz would have the biggest influence on the score. However, Hurwitz told IndieWire that he and Chazelle wanted to use the instrumentation of the period, but to “push it to be quite a bit more aggressive and unhinged, like so much of this movie is.” The music is certainly jazzy, but you can also hear its roots steeped in rock ‘n’ roll and even house music. These elements come together to create quite a truly unique soundscape for the world of “Babylon.”
Hurwitz is best known for his prior work with Chazelle (he’s scored all the director’s work) but with “Babylon” the composer has outdone himself. Not just anything could soundtrack the absolute debauchery of this movie or match its often frenzied tone. As on other projects from this duo, the score was a part of the film from the time the script was written, making the music feel fully integrated into the very fabric of “Babylon.” The mark of a brilliant score is one that can stand on its own and the biggest compliment I can give the music of “Babylon” is that I cannot stop listening to it!