There are many great movies that would be nothing without their fantastic musical scores. Music remains one of the most powerful tools in a director’s arsenal when crafting a movie.
And when it comes to romantic movies, fitting music is absolutely essential to the quality of the film.
Take a few moments to try and imagine a movie like The Notebook without sweeping Hollywood strings in the background.
It would be a very different kind of movie, to say the least.
And the mark of a truly great movie score and soundtrack is to see whether you can listen to it on its own, without the visual accompaniment.
That’s exactly what we did to come up with our list of the best romantic movie soundtracks, instrumental only.
Each of the soundtracks below has received its own album release, making them much easier to track down within the streaming service of your choice.
- Her – Score Music by Arcade Fire
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Score Music by Jon Brion
- Hiroshima Mon Amour – Score Music by Georges Delerue and Giovanni Fusco
- Moonrise Kingdom – Score Music by Alexandre Desplat
- Carol – Score Music by Carter Burwell
- Mood Indigo – Score Music by Etienne Charry
Her – Score Music by Arcade Fire
This movie came out of nowhere, and so did its wonderful soundtrack.
The score was composed by Arcade Fire, the indie-pop group of note from the late 2000s. And although the band started out using exclusively traditional instruments, with their 2013 album Reflektor, they ventured into electronic instruments.
This just happens to be the same year that Her was released into the wild, stunning audiences with its intimate portrayal of a loving relationship between a man and his operating system.
The score is minimal, for the most part. And not every song exclusively uses electronic instruments.
The tracks Song on the Beach and Photograph, for example, were performed entirely on piano.
Meanwhile, the track Milk & Honey, which plays over the opening title of the movie, is a bare-bones electronic-noise piece that manages to come across as delicate and thoughtful.
If you’re already a fan of electronic soundtrack artists like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, then this soundtrack is for you.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Score Music by Jon Brion
Job Brion has written many soundtracks over the course of his career. He has composed music for Step Brothers, This is 40, The Other Guys, Punch-Drunk Love, and many more.
He enjoys using a wide range of instruments and utilizing inventive editing techniques to craft a very specific sound.
Such is the case for this soundtrack, which uses piano, orchestral strings, and digital glitch and skip effects.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie itself, this soundtrack stands out from the bunch. It’s unnervingly beautiful, leaving plenty of musical moments for some discomforting sounds.
And if you have seen the movie, then the soundtrack takes on this additional level of emotional impact.
It’s a wonderful soundtrack for an evening spend indoors, especially if it happens to be rainy or snowy outside. It’s an album of musical blankets for you to enjoy.
Hiroshima Mon Amour – Score Music by Georges Delerue and Giovanni Fusco
Hiroshima Mon Amour is a 1959 French film from director Alain Resnais. It tells the story of a French actress who is staying in Hiroshima temporarily, for work.
She meets an architect and they two fall for each other immediately. Most of the movie simply shows the two trying to cope with their inevitable separation in just a few days.
The soundtrack itself was composed by Georges Delerue and Giovanni Fusco. Delerue is in fact one of the most famous European film score composers of the 20th century, and it shows.
This is music that tightrope walks on the line between sweet and sad. Every song has moments of each, switching between the two tones with ease.
This also happens to be the most obscure soundtrack on our list. Hiroshima Mon Amour has remained an arthouse movie ever since its release, generally staying out of the mainstream.
But it’s absolutely worth seeking out, the soundtrack as well as the movie itself. In just about every aspect, it feels far ahead of its time.
Moonrise Kingdom – Score Music by Alexandre Desplat
It’s hard to hate a Wes Anderson movie, especially one as sweet and innocent as Moonrise Kingdom.
This movie doesn’t just feature a talented cast of children, it also feels, in certain ways, like it was made by a child, and we mean that in the best way possible.
The good and the bad are exaggerated here, making the story feel more like a dream or a fairy tale than a serious drama about young romance.
This was one of the first movies where Anderson collaborated with Alexandre Desplat. His score music for Moonrise Kingdom is light and bouncy.
It places an emphasis on contributing to the exaggeration of the movie itself. And most important of all, it’s sophisticated and fun at the same time.
Carol – Score Music by Carter Burwell
Carter Burwell is one of Hollywood’s most prolific score music composers. We’re going to list just a few of the movies he’s worked on to give you a sense of his range and ability:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; True Grit; Burn After Reading; Fargo; and Being John Malkovich.
He hops from genre to genre effortlessly, or at least that’s how it looks to outsiders like ourselves.
His score for Carol is gentle, atmospheric, and it finds a way to transport the listener to another place and time, allowing them to relate to the movie’s lead characters more deeply.
Mood Indigo – Score Music by Etienne Charry
Mood Indigo is the second Michel Gondry film to appear on our list, and for good reason.
Gondry has a way of making movies magical. It’s a service he provides for cynical grown-ups who have lost faith in humanity, along with any sense of wonder.
And while the movie Mood Indigo itself has some very sad moments, the overall tone and sensation is one of lighthearted fun and the unique joy of falling in love.
Composer Etienne Charry, who also composed the score music for Gondry’s film Microbe & Gasoline, complemented this tone with light music that makes you smile with ease.
If you’re looking to spend a quiet evening inside and need something to listen to that’s not as intrusive as lyrical music, try to flip on any one of these soundtracks.
You’ll feel yourself relaxing almost instantly, thinking on past loves and romances, and the sweet moments and memories they gave you.
If you’re looking for even more great movie recommendations, then you may want to check out this list of Hollywood’s biggest female directors.