Best Scores for Animated Films of 2014

The animation genre of film scores was, like last year, very strong with music styles ranging from classic orchestral to epic choral, to 1980's inspired cues. Every album was unique and I had a difficult time deciding on the best one.
The animation genre has always been really different giving the composer a chance at scoring bright and vivid stories told through computer rendered graphics. The common cliche is for the composer to rely on "Mickey Mousing" (Synchronized, mirrored, or parallel scoring is a film technique that syncs the accompanying music with the actions on screen), which usually detracts from the listening experience. I am always on the lookout for a decent and engaging animated score which avoids that common pitfall. With that being said, here is my list of 2014's best animated film scores.

4. Big Hero 6  by Henry Jackman
Big Hero 6 by Henry Jackman on Grooveshark
This score is solid. And very unique. Jackman utilizes retro 1980's styled percussion and a heroic, brassy main theme. This is a classic superhero score folks with fun written all over it. Seriously. Jackman must have had a blast writing it!

3. The Book of Life by Gustavo Santaolalla
The Tale Begins by Gustavo Santaolalla on Grooveshark
I love a good latin flavored score, and The Book of Life by Gustavo Santaolalla is one of the best I've heard in a while. The score has a mix of thematic material ranging from the classic flaminco guitar and "clacking" castanets to soothing violin and vocal solos. This score is a lot of fun with a good blend of different and entertaining cues.

2. Planes: Fire and Rescue by Mark Mancina
Training Dusty by Mark Mancina on Grooveshark
I loved the first Planes score by Mancina and I didn't at all expect him to surpass it, but Mancina did. This score doesn't have as much thematic material as the first, but the music is more of a solid orchestral action score. Mancina reprises his classic main theme only adding some new string arpeggios and more percussion to make it somewhat different than his first version. But this score, instead of relying on songs from the film and upbeat, contemporary styled music goes old school with soaring orchestral cues, brassy jazz, and even a subtle nod to the Monuments Men  main theme by Alexandre Desplat, and to several 80's themed TV show main titles. The album is an all-around solid orchestral score with engaging, heroic, and exciting cues that don't disappoint.

1. How To Train Your Dragon 2 by John Powell
Toothless Lost by John Powell on Grooveshark
No surprises here, right? It's great to see composer John Powell back in the game, if not briefly for 2014. I loved this score from start to finish without there ever being a dull moment (That's really saying something coming from me since I tend to be so picky). There are no words really to describe this soundtrack except as being blatantly epic. Take my word for it and check it out yourself.

Honorable Mentions

The Penguins of Madagascar by Lorne Balfe
Adeliae by Lorne Balfe on Grooveshark

The Lego Movie by Mark Mothersbough
Prologue by Va - on Grooveshark

Any favorites of your's that I didn't include? Comment and let know!
Be sure to stay tuned for the Best Scores of 2014 which I'll be posting withing the next few days.


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