While we continue to mourn the loss of buying CDs, we remember how movie soundtracks made this event extra special. Soundtracks bring these stories to life. And it helps being able to visualize the players (Hi Natalie Portman and Zach Braff). Even though we may not be buying or listening to soundtracks in their entirety these days, damn you, iTunes, there are still instances when tracks on movie soundtracks get more hype than the films themselves.
Take Lorde’s recent “Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, that made everyone momentarily forget there was a huge, highly anticipated motion picture attached. If you would’ve preferred jamming out to American Hustle without actually watching one second of the film, you feel me here. Seal’s “Kiss By a Rose” was actually from a famous superhero flick… remember? Here are some staff picks of movies that pretty much sucked in comparison to their kick ass soundtracks.
Batman Forever (1995)
The thing about this edition of Batman starring Val Kilmer is that it’s pretty great. And the soundtrack is even better. Bolstered by the undeniable hit, “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal, the album was a massive success packed full of great tracks. There’s the underrated Lenny Kravitz-penned number, “Where Are You Now?” by Brandy. U2, PJ Harvey, and Massive Attack all deliver the kind of punch you’d expect from mid-’90s rock. And Method Man gets trippy on “The Riddler.”
Gross Pointe Blank (1997)
While I don’t see how anyone couldn’t love a movie with John Cusack, Minnie Driver and Dan Aykroyd in starring roles, it’s understandable that the “professional assassin returning to his hometown for his high school reunion” plot flopped. However, the soundtrack is pure gold. With bands like The Clash, The Violent Femmes, The Specials, David Bowie and Queen contributing to this punk rock/ska/ pop dream, I’ll keep this soundtrack on rotation forever (and ever and ever and ever….).
Coyote Ugly (2000)
No one can deny that when they hear The Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or Don Henley’s “All She Wants To Do Is Dance,” they’re immediately brought right back to Manhattan and the craziness of the Coyote Ugly bar. Take a shot of whiskey, get up on that bar and dance to this soundtrack, because it may be more entertaining than actually watching the movie in its entirety.
Garden State (2004)
As much as this movie rocks, the soundtrack is what brings me back every time. I will forever associate “Don’t Panic” by Coldplay, “Caring Is Creepy” by The Shins, “The Only Living Boy In New York” by Simon And Garfunkel and the rest of them with Zach Braff and Natalie Portman’s quirky love story.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
I’m still not sure why there was such a cult following around Napoleon Dynamite. It couldn’t be because of the riveting storyline. If the movie could have captured the eccentric nature of the soundtrack, then maybe I could see how people could love it. Ranging from classics like “Time After Time” and “Forever Young” to new indie sounds by bands like Fiction Company and Rogue Wave, this soundtrack takes you on a journey. But seriously, do you even remember what the movie was about? I don’t, but I still listen to that Bow Wow Wow version of “I Want Candy.”
The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)
While the franchise failed to deliver any real emotion on screen, all three soundtracks — though New Moon with Death Cab for Cutie, Lykke Li, and Thom Yorke is easily the best — were packed with all the pathos you expect for a YA-based movie. Ultimately, the films serve as really cool music videos for many of the songs.
The Hunger Games (2012-)
While The Hunger Games franchise is a huge hit, the first film of the series struggled to capture the dystopian world on the same scale it was presented as in the book. Yet, the soundtrack was a beautiful and often haunting interpretation of the spirit of District 12, especially the stand out track, “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars. It’s a shame that none of the music is actually heard in the film.
American Hustle (2013)
The stellar actors and music choices in this movie were honestly the only things getting me through it. While the plot dragged, I found myself waiting for the next song to play, with tracks from Bee Gees to Donna Summer and Elton John. Whenever that ‘70s music came on behind a slow motion walk, you knew shit was about to go down. That’s why the soundtrack is what really kept the movie going and carried it altogether. Watching Christian Bale being amazing didn’t hurt either.
[Photo Credit: Legacy Recordings/Epic/Sony/Curb Records/Chop Shop/Atlantic]