Nothing’s better than watching a great film that stays with you long after the final credits roll, except when that movie has a kickass soundtrack. Filmmakers who recognize the role that music can play in telling the story give audiences a bonus gift in the form of a soundtrack that evokes the same transcendent experience you had during the movie. Here are five soundtracks whose greatness almost rivals that of the awesome movies from which they came.
This is one of the most ass-kicking soundtracks of all time. From Urge Overkill’s cover of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” to the bits of dialogue from the movie that pop up here and there, the music perfectly evokes the mood and attitude of this Quentin Tarantino masterpiece. The eclectic collection of soul, 60’s surf music, pop and straight-up rock and roll is the kind of album you can listen to over and over without ever getting sick of it. Every time I hear “Son of a Preacher Man” I crank up the volume and belt it out. Quentin Tarantino cast the music in the movie just as he cast the actors and we need to thank him for doing a hell of a job with both resurrecting John Travolta’s career and picking tunes that raised the story to an entirely new level.
Much of the music in the quirky film, “Juno” was selected at the suggestion of Ellen Page, who plays the title character. And, like the film, the music is full of quirks and sass and fun. The little-known “Moldy Peaches” feature prominently, but the soundtrack also showcases more well-known tracks like Sonic Youth’s fantastic cover of The Carpenters’ “Superstar” and “A Well Respected Man” by the Kinks. One of the best things about this soundtrack is that every single song is completely non-intimidating when it comes to singing along. The light-hearted, happy vibe you get when bopping along to these catchy tunes is infectious and can turn even the most stubborn frown upside down.
“Trainspotting” has such an epic soundtrack that they had to release a second one to keep the film’s rabid fans sated. This is another movie where the music was so completely embedded in the story that it almost becomes its own character. Full of eccentric, arty fare from Blur and Pulp as well as amped-up offerings from the likes of Iggy Pop, this soundtrack will take you on a ride that is, unlike the film, quite exhilarating and a whole lot less depressing.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This fantastic collection of bluegrass tunes from greats like Alison Krauss and Ralph Stanley is a joy. And if you’re not really sure whether or not you dig bluegrass, this soundtrack should be your introduction. Soundtrack master T-Bone Burnett combines bluegrass, gospel and folk music in a perfect cocktail that will have you singing along and looking for some old time religion. Dan Tyminski’s “Man of Constant Sorrow” won a Grammy, and the soundtrack took home Album of the Year in 2002.
Pretty in Pink
A killer mix of great ’80s music with a couple classics like Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” thrown in make this soundtrack one of the best ever. Full of definitive 80’s bands like OMD, INXS, The Psychedelic Furs and Echo & the Bunnymen, this is a who’s who of new wave. And you can’t truly epitomize the spirit of the 80’s without The Smiths’ plaintive “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want.” Whether you grew up in the 80’s and want to reminisce or need to teach your kids why that was the greatest decade, like, ever, this soundtrack is definitely what the doctor ordered.
What is your favorite soundtrack?