When I listen to instrumental soundtracks for movies or video games, I can usually easily pick a favorite song or two from the track list. For Black Panther, however, I was surprised to find that was not the case. The movie score is one of the few that I have a hard time picking favorites from. The entire soundtrack is incredible and is one of the best, if not the best, Marvel movie score created so far.
The score was created by Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson, who also did the score for Creed (also directed by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan). In a featurette about the score, Göransson said he reached out to Senegalese musician Baaba Maal and traveled around Africa for research. He told The Hollywood Reporter that he felt "pressure to pay homage to African culture and its traditional music. It's not lost on me that I'm a Swedish guy…
"I traveled to a library in South Africa called ILAM [International Library of African Music], which has a collection of about 500 different instruments that don’t really exist anymore. To be able to go there, record the instruments and use them in the movie… it was an incredible opportunity."
The time and care Göransson took with the score is clear. It is one of the rare soundtracks where I really don’t skip anything. Once I start listening to it, I almost always listen to it the whole way through.
That being said, if you only have time to listen to a few tracks from the score, there are a couple I would definitely recommend over others. The first is "Wakanda," which is one of the tracks featuring Maal. Then there’s "Ancestral Plane," "Killmonger," and another track featuring Maal, "A King’s Sunset." These are all wonderful pieces of music that can stand on their own, but also include themes you’ll hear recurring throughout the rest of the album and you’ll recognize as important parts of the film.
Perhaps the reason I find it so hard to skip anything on the soundtrack is because of how much every track feels connected. The score is itself a beautiful journey about Black Panther and Wakanda and an essential part of making us feel transported into this world. It’s definitely worth a listen whether or not you’re usually a fan of film scores!