Paul Thomas Anderson credits Aimee Mann’s music with inspiring his acclaimed 1999 movie “Magnolia.” Little wonder that Mann’s music dominates the film’s soundtrack, so much so that she receives title billing on the album (it also features tracks by Gabrielle, Supertramp and Jon Brion, a longtime Mann collaborator). One of the tracks Mann wrote for the film, “Save Me,” was nominated for an Oscar.
Though contemporary songs from the worlds of rock, soul and hip-hop have long populated movie soundtracks, some films have essentially been musically scripted by a single artist. As with Mann’s impact on Anderson’s approach to “Magnolia,” the composer of the soundtrack becomes like another lead actor or even director in the film, a crucial voice in setting the tone and informing the images we see on screen. Here are a few examples of soundtracks largely composed of songs written, produced and/or performed by a single artist.