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Justin Hurwitz is the composer behind the catchy numbers in the musical film La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Hurwitz met director Damien Chazelle at Harvard University where they played in the same band and then became roommates. They worked together previously in Whiplash (2014).

The film opens with a terrifically upbeat number. The cast belt out Another Day of Sun on a crowded LA freeway, singing and dancing their way around vehicles. Hurwitz comments on the opening number:

“We just wanted to have a big production number that really pulled you into the world and announced from the beginning, ‘This movie is a musical. People are going to sing. People are going to dance. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Shortly into the film Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dance together looking over the bright lights of Hollywood. Think Singing in the Rain …
“'A Lovely Night’ is kind of in the tradition of a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers song in that it’s a flirtatious, fun song with some nostalgic tones in it.” Hurwitz’s describes his thought process, “As I was composing it I was trying to think about what it was about. It’s about them sort of telling each other that it’s never going to happen. They’re never going to date. They’re not meant for each other. But at the same time, you see they are very much interested in each other. They’re on the way to falling in love.”

City of Stars is the melancholy number that runs throughout the film. Initially sung by Ryan Gosling but later as a duet with Emma Stone.

Hurwitz comments on the inception his favourite song. “‘City of Stars’ started at the piano with me just working on demos for Damien, sending him ideas until something really sparked. It’s so funny that that and ‘Audition’ are the two songs that people seem to be responding to the most, at least so far, because they had similar processes in the sense that they had probably the least amount of fussing at the piano demo stage. We went through a lot of ideas, but I can’t really think of any music I was listening to at the time that I was thinking of when I was writing it. I was just composing it from an emotional place and thinking about the tone. I would say the tone is hopeful, but melancholy at the same time.”

You can listen to a playlist of the soundtrack below.

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