Magical Music: Ranking all the Harry Potter Soundtracks

The Harry Potter franchise is a true cinematic masterpiece and has had global fame and popularity since the release of the first movie, Philosopher’s stone in 2001. With a total of eight movies, averaging 2 and a half hours in length, there have been some truly amazing soundtracks to accompany the magic within the movie. The most important Harry Potter question is if you have completed the hogwarts house quiz?  Everyone wants to find out what house they belong to, so why not test it out yourself? Are you a Gryffindor or a snakey Slytherin?

There has been a total of 8 albums compiled from the eight movies, which have had four different composers. The first 3 films were composed by John Williams, the fourth movie was Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hopper was in charge of composing for the fifth and sixth, and Alexandre Desplat was responsible for composing the music for the seventh and eighth Harry Potters. It is already clear that there are four different personalities and approaches that can be used to analyze and break down the choices made between each composer- but the question is, who has made your favorite soundtrack? Here is my personal ranking of the Harry Potter soundtracks from best to worst.

The Goblet of Fire (Patrick Doyle)

Patrick’s musical expertise really did not let him down in this film and has been able to bring another dimension to the movie with the choice of music complimenting the scenes so well. Some notable tracks that played a significant role in setting the scene of the movie are Harry in winter, Potter Waltz, and Neville’s Waltz- it reaches its potential and exceeds it in my opinion, linking the brilliant screenplay and writing effortlessly with the music by its side.  I truly believe that Patrick should have even been given a couple more movies to compose the music for, he is an exceptional composer.

The Prisoner of Azkaban (John Williams)

It has been popularly argued that this may be the best soundtrack of the lot, but I still believe that Patrick Doyle does top it. However, it does have many of my favorite scenes of all time such as Double Trouble to Buckbeak’s Flights all the way to the astonishing Window to the Past are all the epitome of soundtracks that cannot be matched otherwise. It was so close between number 2 and number 1 but sometimes you got to go with your gut!

The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Alexandre Desplat)

There is some truly magic music here (excuse the pun), with it being the first Potter movie to stop the use of opening logos (Hedwig theme)- it was a bold and brave move to change the theme and approach. However, it was executed brilliantly with songs that worked very well with the context of the film and even one of the most haunting tracks of the entire series! This album delivers in every way possible and is a perfect way to honor the work of Desplat.

The Sorcerer’s Stone (John Williams)

Being the first Harry Potter film, chronologically at the time of the release there was no other movie soundtrack to compare it to. However, it was the one to start the outstanding and breathtaking Hedwig’s Theme, along with other thematic materials- it was so good that even if it was the fourth or fifth film it would have been perfectly suited and implemented.

The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Alexandre Desplat )

The approach Desplat had towards the Harry Potter franchise gave it an extra edge of fear and darkness- and being one of the final Potter movies, it worked out very well. The first films were targeted to a family audience, however, the last few films took a much darker and sinister approach, and the music definitely related to that. The track Obliviate is a good example of this, whereby the track just takes the audience into another realm as if they are being chased by dementors themselves. It gave an additional angle for listeners to contextualize and see- the dark side of the Harry Potter movies.

The Half-Blood Prince (Nicholas Hooper)

I was slightly disappointed with Hooper’s approach to the soundtracks of Half-blood prince. Some of the tracks were a great benefit and addition to the scenes but they just lost out of emotional significance and impact they had on me. I feel as if it could have implemented a more emotionally powerful effect to the scenes to make it feel more meaningful and strong. When compared to the other soundtracks it does not stand out as much and lacks that extra guile and expertise the others had to offer. Saying this, Harry and Hermione are most certainly the standout track of this album and should be appreciated and given the true credit it does deserve.

The Order of the Phoenix (Nicholas Hooper)

The music in the album collated by Nicholas Hooper must definitely compliment the film and the scenes that it was mixing in with, however, it lacked that extra edge and satisfaction that the other soundtracks had to offer, which is why it is at the bottom of my list. But take nothing away from this album, with tracks such as Dumbledore’s Army and Professor Umbridge it was always going to be a good album.