I enjoy music that mixes traditional rhythms and instrumentation from various countries with modern Western influences. A lot of these happen to come in the form of international movie soundtracks and a few of these that I own are listed below.
Kahbi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001)
Wanting some fun Indian music, I purchased the soundtrack to this internationally popular 2001 Bollywood film after having quite a lot of fun watching the movie. The music itself is typical of Indian film—mixing traditional sounds (rolling tabla, highpitched female voice) and classic Hollywood musical (strings, chorus) with modern beats and synthesized sound. The songs also remind me of the surreal feeling of watching my first Bollywood film as characters broke out into song and dance in such unexpected (and thus for me quite humorous) ways.
Slumdog Millionaire (2009)
This Oscar winning movie set in modern India has an amazing soundtrack that features music by well-known Indian producer AR Rahman. Some tracks are traditional; some sound of classic Bollywood films. Most, however, are vanguard modern Indian recording mixing styles of the world (R&B (including rapper MIA), rock, Latin) with traditional music. Since it is a soundtrack, many of the songs are intended as background and thus do not have a lot of distinct melody or hooks. However, all the songs are exceptionally fun and playful in a way that regular pop music cannot be.
1 Giant Leap (2002)
This concept album came about when its creators traveled to locations around the globe to interview and film people for a documentary on the themes of unity and diversity. They had local musicians create songs to blend together with other musicians they would visit later. The result is an international album with a mix of musical styles and traditions that was an exceedingly popular one-off album though everyone hopes for the rumored sequel. The biggest hit was the song “My Culture”.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
While the film was hugely popular, I knew as soon as I saw the movie that what I really wanted to get was the soundtrack. I think the director and producer really wanted to show that Chinese-language music is not only current but has long kept relevant to the times. As such they include Chinese language recordings from many eras of western music: big band swing, eighties pop, nineties folk, and modern R&B. It makes for a really fun album, especially the upbeat version of ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’.