Sure, they shred on stage. But they can also tear up Hollywood. Even the busiest of rock stars occasionally moonlight in the world of movies and TV. Some act (Jon Bon Jovi, Common, Weird Al), some direct (Rob Zombie, Liam Lynch), and others get in touch with their inner John Williams.
There are a number of rock 'n' roll artists who wrote for movies, whether they signed on to sci fi epics or quirky indies. Air provided a memorably delicate soundtrack for The Virgin Suicides, while Eddie Vedder's guitar work added folksy texture to Into the Wild. And then there's Daft Punk - the robotic duo penned a suitably fuzzed-out score for Tron: Legacy.
It's not hard to see what draws rock musicians to the movies. These rockers who compose movie soundtracks get a chance to create original material without worrying how to perform it on stage. It's a win all around, as most film scores composed by rock musicians feel fresh and unique thanks to the composers' day jobs.
How do you make a score sound like what the kids were rocking out to back Year 0? That was the dilemma Martin Scorsese faced when making The Last Temptation of Christ. His solution was to hire world music auteur and rock pioneer Peter Gabriel. The resulting album, entitled Passion, is not only one of Peter's best works, it also might be one of the greatest movie scores of the 1980s. Employing an array of voices and period instruments, Gabriel's work enhanced and expanded Scorsese's controversial meditation on faith.
#38 on The Best Rock Vocalists
Bands don't come much more adventurous than the ever-transforming Radiohead. So it comes as little surprise that guitarist Jonny Greenwood would take the plunge and compose an adventurous score for There Will Be Blood.
As good as it is, Paul Thomas Anderson's film would be much less compelling without Greenwood's haunting and mysterious score. Critics praised the music for "[sounding] vanguard and exploratory in the context of Hollywood film scores."
After so many scores, it's easy to forget that Danny Elfman began his music career as the frontman of the wonderfully bizarre Oingo Boingo. His early scores included Wisdom and Back to School, but Elfman truly found his kindred spirit in director Tim Burton. Over a dozen movies later, they've forged one of the best collaborations in Hollywood.
Elfman's greatest score for Burton might just be 1989's Batman. Within five notes, it was clear that this film was a far cry from Adam West's goofy, jovial television series.
Eddie Vedder composed the soundtrack for Into the Wild, and his mixture of songs and score perfectly matched the restless, off-kilter heart of Emile Hirsch's Chris McCandless. The soundtrack was critically acclaimed upon its release; the song "Guaranteed" was nominated for a Grammy and an Academy Award in 2008.
Vedder's music previously appeared in another Sean Penn film - Dead Man Walking.
#24 on The Best Rock Vocalists
#20 on The Best Frontmen in Rock