Here is the definitive list of the best movies with awesome soundtracks.
Ever pretend like you’re in a movie on your way to work? I do it all the time. If I’m late for the train, I pretend I’m Marty McFly on his way to school. Or if I go to the bank, I’m Mr. Pink or Mr. Orange pulling a heist. I turned into Star-Lord the other day taking out the garbage after I saw a trash panda in the dumpster. You know what helps me turn into those iconic characters? Soundtracks. In particular the best movies with awesome soundtracks.
There was a time when purchasing soundtracks to a movie was a certified stamp of approval for a classic film. You would walk over to your local record store and buy a CD, yes a CD, and relive the movies all over again. Waiting for the movies to hit TV or DVD took forever, so the soundtrack was the next best thing. Now you could transport yourself anywhere you wanted to be in the cinematic universe!
There will be a couple of exclusions here: No musicals. No complete orchestral scores. Just compilation mixes, like a mix tape or CD. The best movies take great music and make them their own with their soundtracks. Here’s the definitive list to get you pumped for your otherwise mundane, daily activities!
10 – Baby Driver
This soundtrack is a must listen for any driver. Have to have this one cued up at all times. Grab your super cool shades like Baby and zoom down an empty highway (preferably doing the speed limit) and get lost in these tunes.
The opening scene perfectly synced with “Bell Bottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was near perfection. Arguably a close second to the opening of The Dark Knight. Followed by the best credit scene I’ve seen in recent memory. “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl paired up with Ansel Elgort getting coffee was mesmorising. Also the reason why Edgar Wright has 2 spots on this list.
Can’t leave out “B-A-B-Y” by Carla Thomas to tie up and keep the romance alive. Great song, great restaurant scene where she sings it to Baby. Fantastic all around.
This soundtrack also introduced me to many songs I’ve never heard before, which may be a trend going forward. Irony is that now they’re a part of the mandatory daily rotation.
9 – Guardians of the Galaxy
Never thought I would hear “Come and Get Your Love” being lip synced into a space rat but here we are. Another fantastic intro for a character set to awesome music, and it goes swimmingly. Star-Lord made me want to get an old school walkman ASAP.
The typical superhero suit up scene is kicked up a notch with “Cherry Bomb” as a crescendo to their super slo-mo walk out. Great execution and a nice layout to what should be the result of their plot.
And of course, the “Ooh child” dance off to end all dance offs. At first, it seemed like a strange choice. But as soon as the family theme played out, I let out a quiet ‘Bravo’ in the theatre. Great job all around on this soundtrack.
8 – Garden State
Garden State is probably one of the most chill soundtracks on this list. It really compliments the movie so well with tunes Zach Braff hand picked himself. It even makes Coldplay a little likeable (yeah I said it, come at me Chris Martin).
There isn’t a song I would skip past on this one. From “Don’t Panic” to “New Slang” and even throwing in “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Simon and Garfunkel, this one is relatively untouchable. The wandering boy in New Jersey has a delightful setlist to fall in love with Natalie Portman.
He puts a bow on their relationship with a “Such Great Heights” Postal Service cover by Iron and Wine. As well as delivering it home with “Let Go” by Frou Frou so well, I was agreeing with Braff by the end of the movie. “I’m not like, putting a period at the end of this. I’m putting like… an ellipsis on it…” indeed Largeman. Indeed. *commences to get the feels*
7 – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
“We are Sex-Bomb Omb and were here to watch Scott Pilgrim kick your teeth in!” Hell. YES! As if this movie wasn’t cool enough this soundtrack kicks so much ass! Just like Scott (f@*#!n) Pilgrim.
With help from Beck, the original songs rock just as much as the other now well known hits. How many times have you found yourself humming “Garbage Truck” and “Ramona” while taking a nice stroll? Or rockin to Crash and the Boys “We hate you please die” while playing a shoot em up video game? Too much fun to be had with this soundtrack.
A nice classic hit by the Rolling Stones “Under My Thumb” caught me off guard but fits so well. Also, Frank Black’s “I heard Ramona sing” was an easy choice to include for transitions scenes too.
Moreover, the song that really stands out is Metric’s “Black Sheep“. I felt like I was there for the electric Clash at Demonhead concert. Killer bass and vocals by Emily Haines and company made this a must listen after the movie was over.
6 – Space Jam
Have a big game coming up? Listen to this on Spotify and you’ll be flying high like prime time Mike Jordan did in this classic. Fly like an Eagle, Space Jam, Hit em High, this list goes on and on. When the Tunesquad is getting ready to take the court, “Pump Up The Jam” made me want to lace up and play alongside my favourite bunny.
As a matter of fact, he has the one song off this soundtrack that will forever live in infamy appropriately named “Buggin‘”. If you don’t find yourself hoppin’ to this beat, you most certainly suffer from PFP.
“Not even the barber can fade the rabbit!” Get em Bugs!
5 – Zoolander
A throwback within a throwback. Zoolander perfectly puts together an absurd movie with absurd music and makes you like them. These are the guilty pleasure songs with a couple of classics thrown in to legitimise the whole soundtrack.
“Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood must’ve seen plays go through the roof after that Magnum catwalk by Derek. The Gasoline fight highlighted with Wham’s “Wake me up before you go-go” is unforgettable. No way you can sing that and not have the happy go lucky male models soaked in gas flash through your head.
Not to mention the walk off scene set to “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. David Bowie as the ultimate judge (who also has his “Let’s Dance” on the soundtrack) caps off this line up of memorable music and laughs.
4 – Scarface
When Tony Montana wasn’t doing corrupt business, he was dancing (and blowing) the night away to fantastic cheesy 80s music. This soundtrack put a kind of glitz and glam to an otherwise abhorrent lifestyle, but doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
That super cool montage of tons of money backed by “Push it to the limit” almost makes the lifestyle seem worth all the headaches Tony goes through. I mean he gets a friggin’ tiger for himself as a wedding gift. Sheesh.
Hits like “She’s on fire” and “Rush Rush” accurately foreshadow what Tony’s eventual downfall will look like while you move your hips. “Vamos A Bailar” gets inserted somewhere in the middle and makes you want to count all that money on the sun soaked beaches in Miami. Say hello to my little soundtrack sometime, you cockroaches.
3 – Back To The Future
If you’ve listened to the Back to the Future soundtrack, you’d know that you wouldn’t need a DeLorean to travel through time. This soundtrack manages to effortlessly transport you to the 50s and 80s, and it rocks.
You can pretty much link every song to a scene in the movie. “Power of Love” plays as Marty McFly probably inspires the old school Skitchin’ video game for Sega Genesis; “Mr. Sandman” playing as his eyes can’t believe he’s been transported to 1955; and the vintage prom song “Earth Angel” finally setting up his parents and saving his family’s life. Heavy stuff.
Let’s not forget how he influenced Chuck Berry’s future “Johnny B. Goode” and rocked thier socks off with his guitar synced fingers. Pop this one in and let’s go daddio!
2 – The Crow
The Crow is basically a music video set to an incredible tale of revenge brought about by an undying love. This one should be on a list of ‘Soundtracks with awesome movies’. Every scene is set to hard rock and carries every bit of darkness immaculately.
From the moment Eric Draven returns from the grave, it is on like Donkey Kong. The Crow caws and Brandon Lee ‘paints his face with shadow smile’ as sung by The Cure. To him jumping from rooftop to rooftop scouring the city with the help of Nine Inch Nails “Dead Souls“. Every song just fits like a meticulously planned out lego set.
What makes it even better is that these bands were all relatively starting out. So the raw emotion from their songs translated right into the movie. Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Rollins Band all contribute something intangible to The Crow.
Finally, rounding all these heavy hitting bands and crystallising Eric Draven’s quest for love is Jane Siberry’s “It can’t Rain All the Time“. The angst and thrashing of metal chords from before are matched and even drowned out by her delicate vocals on this velvet song. It’s unimaginable that this movie would end in such a powerful beautiful way but this one last song gets it done.
1 – Reservoir Dogs
Almost any Quentin Tarantino movie would fit here. Pulp Fiction. Kill Bill. Jackie Brown. But the reason Reservoir Dogs beats them all is because the music here is an actual character. Something The Warriors movie does well, but didn’t have the music quite right. K-Billy Super Sounds of the 70s radio station, with the help of Steven Wright’s deadpan delivery, is no match for any other movie soundtrack.
It introduces us to the team with their badass walk out from the restaurant to “Little Green Bag“. Undercover cop Tim Roth trying to be cool in the back seat with seasoned criminals listening to “Hooked on a Feeling“. To beating the snot out of a kidnapped cop while “I Gotcha” plays unironically. Additionally, with each song we get a nice little intro from the DJ, setting everything up like a pro.
Undoubtedly, the best scene that uses music, is when Mr. Blonde turns on full torture mode. He flips on the radio and ‘the dylan-esque, pop bubble gum favourite “Stuck in the middle with you” by Stealers Wheel starts playing. Can’t think of anything else when that song comes on randomly now. Mr. Blonde dancing and the rookie cop writhing as he slices off his ear. When he leaves to get gas to douse the cop with, the music fades just a bit. As he returns, it turns up full volume again. It is really something to marvel at. Pure genius. Oh, spoiler alert for a 24 year old movie.
Finally, when the Mexican standoff is over, “Coconut” plays us out as we absorb the madness. Complete madness. Luckily, through it all we had our faithful radio station and host. K-Billy Super Sounds of the 70’s truly is the home of rock.
Let’s face it, there are too many to list here. Rocky III, Ferris Beuller’s day off, Dirty Dancing, The Matrix, Cruel Intentions, Donnie Darko, American Psycho, Kingsman and on and on it goes.
There it is ladies and gents. 10 Soundtracks to add to your Spotify playlists immediately. If there’s anything left out, which I’m sure you’ll have your opinions on, let a soundtracks enthusiast know. Just not me though. I’ll be too busy working on my Magnum look before I go out tonight. Cheers!
If you enjoyed our article on the best movies with awesome soundtracks, we’ve ranked the Tarantino films from worst to best. Have a read. And while we have you, we did the same for Edgar Wright. That’s right, it’s ranking stuff o’clock.