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The only reason we can convince ourselves, and err, convince you why we indulged ourselves in the bubblegum pop soundtrack album that is "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" can be summed up in two words: 'guilty pleasure'. How else can you explain the fact that this phenomenal musical experience managed to churn out 10 new songs for the third movie in the successful franchise? And how we managed to remember every word in the lyrics and sing along to the catchy tunes while putting the songs on repeat mode? Two words: 'guilty pleasure'.

The other soundtrack album that we played repeatedly this year is "Cape No. 7". Sure, we have no idea why we enjoyed the Japanese narration tracks so much, but the lyrical main theme definitely helped to set the mood for a lush and sentimental listening experience. Then there are the pleasant songs performed by Van Fan and the cast of the phenomenal Taiwan film - we don’t know whether this is a 'guilty pleasure', considering how the prettily packaged soundtrack are being snapped up in stores everywhere.

Guilty pleasures aside, 2008 is also a year when talented composers brought us to lands we’d never visit. Thomas Newman’s charming score for "Wall·E" is an affecting journey into a futuristic world where Earth is a complete wasteland and outer space is a human infested galaxy where commercialism runs amok. Complete with two metal made protagonists, Newman created a soundscape you could only dream of.

Randy Edelman’s composition for "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" transported us to a land where terracotta soldiers come alive and an evil dragon emperor brings terror to the world. Amidst all these action, listen out for more tender moments where human touches are brought to life with Edelman’s lush orchestrations. The fine score was sadly overshadowed by the movie’s lukewarm reviews.

Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have it better for their collaborative work in "The Dark Knight". Wonderful performances, wonderful production values, wonderful screenplay, wonderful directing – all backed up by a memorable music composition that sends sinister chills down your spine (the dark themes) and touch you in unthinkable ways (the tragedy that is Harvey Dent) at the same time. Despite the Oscar nomination hoo-hah, we are sticking by this, well, guilty pleasure that sets our adrenaline rushing.

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By John Li
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