Have you had the Black Panther soundtrack running around your head for the past couple of weeks? So have we. We've rounded up seven of the best tracks from Ludwig Goransson's terrific score that define the tone and awe-inspiring scale of Marvel's latest blockbuster.
Warning: possible Black Panther spoilers ahead!
1. 'Wakanda Origins'
Goransson famously travelled to Senegal and immersed himself in the country's traditions to ensure the authenticity of Black Panther's music. One of its key facets is the use of six 'talking' drums that effectively become the heartbeat of Wakanda as the score proceeds. The percussive drive of the movie's visually striking opening sequence encapsulates this perfectly.
The piercing tones of Senegalese vocalist Baaba Maal (who's also featured in the likes of Black Hawk Down) soar as we get our first view of the mighty, vibranium-producing kingdom. Authentic and beautiful, they sum up the impact of Goransson's score in a nutshell.
3. 'Waterfall Fight'
T'Challa's (Chadwick Boseman) theme is split into two parts: a standalone brass fanfare for his moments of heroism, and a wider orchestral piece that connects the character to his kingdom, Wakanda. During the pivotal fight between him and Jabari tribe leader M'Baku (Winston Duke), the brass and drums give way, for the first time, to the rousing Wakanda theme, inaugurating T'Challa's ascension to the throne.
4. 'Ancestral Plane'
Another key theme is the moving ancestral piece that connects T'Challa to his deceased father, T'Chaka (John Kani). Alluding to both the title character's inner struggle and also the dark secret that lurks in T'Chaka's past, it's a strained string elegy that increasingly brims with tragedy as the score proceeds.
A completely different sonic landscape emerges in the theme for villain Eric Killmonger, played by the terrific Michael B. Jordan. Fusing early 2000s trap hip hop (reminiscent of Goransson's collaborations with artist Childish Gambino) with the aggressive sound of the African fula flute, the piece acts as a brilliant summary of his character. He is, in short, a violent, vengeful 21st century millennial who nevertheless bears a rightful claim to the throne of his ancestral kingdom.
6. 'Killmonger's Dream'
Goransson cleverly twists the ancestral theme on its head after the insurgent Killmonger usurps the throne and makes his own journey to the other side. As he comes face to face with his father who was killed by T'Chaka, Goransson deploys the poignant ancestry music to imply the villain has as much to lose as the hero. It musically connects Killmonger and T'Challa on an emotional level, suggesting they both have a rightful claim to the throne, but are going about it in wildly different ways.
7. 'Glory to Bast'
The sheer force of a 132-piece London orchestra fuses with the African instrumentation in this pivotal cue, underscoring the climactic battle for Wakanda's very soul. The triumphant Wakanda theme is in force as Wakanda's Dora Milaje warriors vie with their own kind for possession of the land, fusing with the drums, flutes and 40-piece Xhosa (a southern African language) choir.
8. 'A King's Sunset'
Killmonger's eventual death scene couldn't have been more powerfully scored by Goransson. The character's theme is translated onto mournful cello as one final statement of the ancestral theme marks his passing from this life, in which he's certain of incarceration, into the next. It's then back to Baaba Maal's stunning vocals as a new era dawns for the beleagured Wakanda.
9. 'United Nations/End Titles'
The scope of the music opens up during the movie's rousing finale, signalling how Wakanda is opening its doors to the wider world. The spectacular closing statement of the kingdom's theme, once again merging with the traditional choir and percussive instruments, is nothing less than a celebration of everything T'Challa holds dear. We really hope Goransson returns for Black Panther 2.