For a lot of people, it’s really freaking difficult to pick a favorite Harry Potter book. And, dude, I get it. When each book in the series has us feelin’ the feels for varying reasons, how in the heck are we even supposed to begin to choose? Each has its merits, each has its own memories, especially if you’ve grown up reading them.
Is that just me, or do you feel the same way about picking a favorite Harry Potter movie soundtrack, too? Does someone else have a weird love affair with the motion picture soundtracks for the eight Harry Potter films? Again, I find myself faced with that task of picking a favorite from quite the ripe pool.
If I had to narrow it down, however, if I really had to take a pick, would you believe me if I said that my favorite Harry Potter book as well as my favorite Harry Potter soundtrack are from the same number in the series? Oddly enough, it’s true.
My Favorite Harry Potter Book Soundtrack
When Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out, I remember reading it in one very long marathon reading that involved me finishing it in the early hours of the next day. Of course, I enjoyed the novel, but I remember thinking the entire time, “Harry, settle the eff down.”
The book birthed the single most despicable villain in all of wizardry, Dolores Umbridge–I will never get over the Black Quill scene–but for some reason I couldn’t relate to Harry’s angsty anger towards Dumbledore back when I first read it in 2003. Which, you know, is sort of weird considering I was thirteen at the time, you’d think I would’ve related to the teen drama more.
Not that Order of the Phoenix isn’t a freaking amazing book, because it is, and I kind of want to go back and read it right now. Two years later, in comes the Half-Blood Prince. I went to the midnight release of the sixth installment, and I recall very clearly reading the first chapter, “The Other Minster” and thinking, “Wow. This is writing.”
And yet, as impressed as I was, summer that year distracted me and I didn’t pick up the book until probably six months later only to binge read it and then quickly pick it up from the beginning and read it again right after. I loved Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The tone strayed further into the dark than it had ever done before in the series, almost to the point of touching on horror. I loved that. Then, we finally saw this five-book-build-up of relationships explode. I LOVED that.
Even more, we discovered not only a plethora of information about Voldemort (seriously, insane amounts), but we also touched on the knowledge that there’s so much more to Snape than meets the eye. And that blew my mind. The series of trials Harry has to go through to get to the truth (and ultimately even more questions), the addition of Slughorn’s character, and, oh, Lavender Brown. I just, purely, insanely enjoyed every bit of it.
The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released in 2009. Yes, there’s that completely uncomfortable Ginny-shoe-tying scene (who’s idea was that?), but Ginny’s character gets fairly shafted throughout the entire cinematic series anyhow. Other than that tidbit, I found it to be a fantastic tailoring of the book.
The film not only does a great job expounding what Draco’s going through, an addition that was fantastic to behold, but also portrays the dark realities expertly within the everyday drama and funnies of being a teenager. And, to get what the whole point of this post, the music is an outstanding auditory remodeling of the story.
I can basically listen to the entire Half-Blood Prince soundtrack, and it’s 28-tracks long. Even less-sob-story-esque scores like “Wizard Wheezes“, a jazz tune with a remarkable stunning brass section, I actively listen to. Which is a pretty big deal for me, considering I basically dredge myself in only the most epic and depressing music scores possible, because I’m hardcore like that.
Not to say that the Half-Blood Prince score is lacking in those superbly dark pieces. Nope, there’s plenty to take from in that category. From the first look at the logo, with “Opening” we’re given this film’s own reworking of the classic Harry Potter tune, accompanied by a beautiful chorus of singers. This is one of my most well-listened-to tracks from the disc.
“Dumbledore’s Foreboding” is another track that I’ve listened to on repeat. Again, featuring a choir of voices within an appropriately uneasy tune. I love how Hooper weaves them together, I especially appreciate his use of strings. “The Killing of Dumbledore” (uh, spoiler alert) is a solid example of how Hooper utilizes string instruments to highlight tension, something that brings the right touch of that dark feeling I so love in instrumental pieces.
“Harry & Hermione” is another repeater that I enjoy. It’s used tellingly within the film, and had me crying real tears as I watched Hermione’s torment play out to its harmony of harps. The song is evocative of the wintry, love-struck scene that we witness, and cogently tells the story in its soft and gentle chords. Totally a song that you can pull out when you’re heartbroken and yearning to wallow, let me tell you.
But, oh gosh, “Slughorn’s Confession“. Slughorn is such a complex wizard, a character clinging to any ounce of power he can find, while at heart remaining a genuinely good person, however strong his motives for self-preservation may be. Harry implores him, “Be brave professor! Be brave like my mother.” One very cool fan theory is that Slughorn’s Patronus is that of the fish Lily gave him. Regardless, “Slughorn’s Confession” is a beautifully rendered piece that has an efficacious dramatic build to it, structured with enough meekness to portray Slughorn’s dire feelings.
Another song that had me bawling? “Dumbledore’s Farewell“, for obvious reasons, but, frack, when they all start raising their wands in the air it’s like all my feels came out at once. Beautiful scene, beautiful song. An unbelievable moment, that’s for sure–I spent a lot of time theorizing all the reasons just why Dumbledore was not dead–but a moment well translated to screen.
I could possibly gush about every track on the Half-Blood Prince‘s soundtrack, but I’ll end with “Dumbledore’s Speech“. While the majority of Dumbledore’s opening banquet speeches at Hogwarts are quite enthusiastic, Harry’s sixth year begins with a far more apprehensive head master, as he warns, “Every day, every hour, this very minute, perhaps, dark forces attempt to penetrate this castle’s walls. But in the end, their greatest weapon… is you.” Ahem, looking at you, Malfoy!
What’s your favorite Harry Potter soundtrack?