“I’ve just heard you play, and …”
“La La Land,” an original musical film, was undeniably the sleeper hit musical hit of 2016. The film was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards, of which it won six, and won a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. The songs, written by Justin Hurwitz and Pasek & Paul, are a contemporary spin on the jazz sound heard in Golden Age stage musicals and films.
Here are the 15 songs in “La La Land” ranked from least to greatest:
15. “City of Stars (Humming)”
Although a beautiful take on the recurring song throughout the movie, the coffee shop spin on this track sounds slightly out of place with the rest of the movie’s jazzy score. Fans of Emma Stone’s singing will not be disappointed, however.
14. “Engagement Party”
A more relaxed moment in the score, this piano solo is a charming, albeit forgettable, ballad that helps balance the constantly upbeat nature of the movie.
Possibly the most symphonic number in the score, the dream sequence here is delightful, if not somewhat clichéd and derivative.
12. “The End”
The ending echoes the theme for Mia and Sebastian. While triumphing in its crescendo, “The End” could be slightly longer and include some jazz harmonies.
11. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”
Stone’s big solo ballad tells of her aunt’s carefree adventures in Paris. While her vocal chops might not quite be Broadway-level, she gives a convincing performance and paints a lasting picture in the listener’s mind.
10. “City of Stars” (Ryan Gosling Solo)
Gosling’s solo version of this song is the first time it’s heard in the movie, sung right after his character hangs out with Mia for the first time. Gosling’s whispery tone appropriately reflects the nature of his character’s future hopes.
9. “City of Stars” (Duet)
Here we have the lovers in a more intimate, vulnerable musical setting, becoming more romantic one blue note at a time.
8. “Summer Montage”
This instrumental reimagining of “Another Day of Sun” is a showcase of Hurwitz’s imaginative genius as a composer.
7. “Herman’s Habit”
This Miles Davis sound-alike is sure to amuse any hardcore jazz fan who is looking for something more classic and true to form in the soundtrack.
6. “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme”
This haunting piano theme has traces of pre-jazz Impressionistic composers such as Debussy and Ravel. Its poignant melodies and harmonies parallel the tumultuous bond between the two lovers.
5. “A Lovely Night”
Reminiscent of dancing sequences by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this first duet between Mia and Sebastian is a tribute to the jazzy musicals that long preceded “La La Land.”
4. “Start a Fire”
Undoubtedly the most contemporary-sounding number in the whole movie, John Legend and company deliver a knockout performance in this soulful jam.
3. “Another Day of Sun”
One of the more memorable opening sequences in recent musical films, this song is destined to be a show-choir favorite by the end of this year.
2. “Someone in the Crowd”
This song is about the thrill of a chance encounter, and Mia and her friends add life to its flamboyant and lighthearted representation of Los Angeles nightlife.
Arguably the best part of the movie, the instrumental epilogue is a fantastic dream sequence of what might have been if Mia and Sebastian had waited for each other. The union of the movie’s musical themes here is extraordinary.