It’s been eight years since the release of the film, ‘The Social Network,’ a mediocre movie with a fantastic soundtrack. And the credit for the score goes to Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and English musician and producer Atticus Ross.
Prior to ‘The Social Network,’ Reznor had not done any significant work in the area of film score composition. His first collaboration with Atticus Ross earned them both the Oscar for Best Original Score. Despite the duo also working on several films since then (‘Gone Girl,’ ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ and ‘The Vietnam War.’), the score for ‘The Social Network’ remains their most popular, earning consistent listens from nostalgic fans or students in need of work/study music.
At the time of its release, the album’s combination of traditional orchestral instruments with electronic music and noise served as a novel mix, and proved to be extremely relevant to the accompanying film’s content: the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the revolution of social media.
The style has since spawned any number of imitators and those looking to take the same sound to an extreme. These low-key, regimented tracks have in fact become the norm for many big-budget dramatic works as well as smaller indie films that want to evoke high tension and, simultaneously, sophistication.
Part of the score’s success comes from the general public’s unfamiliarity with ambient music for casual listening. The introduction made by ‘The Social Network’ soundtrack has influenced the formation of 24/7 music streams on YouTube that feature similarly low-profile music meant to be played during focused activity like programming, studying, or exercise.
Even though Trent Reznor’s career in the film score field has tapered off, his first score has retained its power and continues to impact new generations of musicians.