Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Favorite Movie Soundtracks

Cross posted at Sleepy Eyed Whiners

I have spent about 50 hours traveling in my car the last 4 weeks, so when the podcasts dry up, I have been listening to more music than usual.  Driving home today, I put on one of my favorite soundtrack albums, the Batman Forever soundtrack.  That got me thinking, what are some of my other favorite soundtrack albums (I exclude musicals from this, as those aren't really movies with soundtracks, but excuses to make money from the music).  There are several that border on musicals, but, I think those are good enough to stand here, and it's my list, so I'll do as I please.

Here are some of my favorite soundtracks in no particular order (other than the first two, which I listen to all the time), and they really have little to do with the quality of the movies. In fact, I have seen few of the movies.  Also, in compiling this, I realized I have seen very few movies since about 2000, or maybe the music just isn't that good now...

  1. Brokedown Palace (1999) - I like this soundtrack so much that I rented the movie, which had a run of about a week in theaters.  The movie is actually not awful (and starts Claire Dane and Kate Beckinsale as American teenagers jailed for drug crimes in Thailand), but the soundtrack is fabulous.  It opened my eyes to a couple of
  2. Batman Forever (1995) - Ok, the third Batman movie was universally panned, but, it's soundtrack should not be overlooked.  It's full of great music from the mid-90's.  U2, Seal, Mazzy Star, The Devlins, Massive Attack.  Great stuff.
  3. The Blues Brothers  (1980) - This actually falls into the category of music looking for a movie, but, still, it's a classic cult movie, with great lines like  "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses."  The soundtrack isn't all Belushi/Akroyd, it also includes appearances by Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.  
  4. Reality Bites (1994) - The movie has an all star cast of people who would be big stars in the '90s, Ben Stiller, Wynona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Renee Zellweger.  But, the soundtrack is what really shines in this one, made up of great songs from lots of good '90's era bands
  5. Empire Records (1995) - A movie set in a record store ought to have a pretty good soundtrack, and Empire Records doesn't disappoint.  Why does Renee Zellweger keep showing up in these movies?  This movie made nearly zero dollars, and it's not that good, but the soundtrack has always been one of my favorites.  Like Reality Bites, it's a who's who of '90's bands, with tracks from the Gin Blossoms, Better Than Ezra, The Cranberries, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Cracker, and Edwyn Collins great "A Girl Like You."
  6. Star Wars (1977) - Why do Sci-Fi films have good soundtracks?  You got me, but Star Wars eschews the typical soundtrack and actually is a double album with lots of original music, and most of it's listenable.  It'll also remind you of scenes in the movie, which, I guess, is one measure of its greatness.
  7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - I would get this just to listen to Also Sprach Zarathustra over and over again.  Crazy man!
  8. Tommy (1975) - Come on, Jack Nicholson, Ann Margret, Tina Turner, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and The Who's music?  What's not to love.  If the Overture doesn't get you moving, you're dead.
  9. Purple Rain (1984) - This one borders on a musical, being as it was, a vehicle for Prince to sell albums.  So, it almost doesn't qualify.  But, it was an actual movie, and, the music was Prince at his finest.  Grab your favorite girl and dance all night.
  10. Risky Business (1983) - Tom Cruise's debut also featured a fabulous soundtrack, with a mixture of rock greats (Old Time Rock and Roll), '80's new wave (Mannish Boy, DMSR), and the sultry jazz of Tangerine Dream.  If you were 18 in 1983 (I was) how could you ever forget Rebecca DeMornay and Tom Cruise to Tangerine Dream's "Love On a Real Train?"  The fact is, you can't.
  11. Dirty Dancing (1987) - Like Purple Rain, a soundtrack in search of a movie, sort of.  Unlike Purple Rain, the movie is actually watchable again and again, which has given it sort of cult status.  For the ladies, Patrick Swayze's presence helps.  This movie may have opened a lot of kids of my generation's eyes to some great '60s music that wasn't The Beatles or the Stones.  It mixed in the wonderful "Time of My Life" and "She's Like The Wind" with those oldies. 
  12. Clueless (1995) Returning to our theme of mid-90's movies with great soundtracks, Clueless delivers.
  13. Rocky (1976) - More of a traditional soundtrack, you can follow the movie with it.  Of course, Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" is a classic today.
  14. There's Something About Mary (1998) - This one is a matter of taste.  I think we can mostly all agree the movie is a comedy great from the Farrelly brothers, with Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, and a cameo by her love interest, Bret Favre.  The soundtrack contains the Jonathan Richman numbers, as well as the awesome "History Repeating," "Is She Really Going Out With Him," and the finale of "Build Me Up, Buttercup."  Come on, if you can't get excited by that, there's no hope.
  15. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) - With Risky Business, this movie kind of defined a generation.  Who can ever forget Spicoli's "Eating some pizza and learning about Cuba" line or Phoebe Cates exiting the pool to The Cars "Moving in Stereo."  This soundtrack does for the early '80's what some of these others did for the '90's.
  16. Blow (2001) - The only post 2000 movie on my list.  Not only is a compelling story, but, it's really the only 1 of 2 dramas on the list.  Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Paul Ruebens.  The soundtrack is awesome, eclectic and electric, it's worth the price.
  17. Animal House (1978) I don't think I even need to say it.  The movie is a classic.  The soundtrack, likewise.

Upon further review, there are some albums that I left off the list that I believe deserve a mention.  I left these off the list largely because I think they only existed because of the music:
  • The Beatles A Hard Day's Night
  • The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall
  • The Grease Soundtrack - I am not a huge fan of this one, but it really is a musical, anyway.
  • Saturday Night Fever soundtrack - This one probably should have been on my list.
These deserve honorable mention, and might make other people's list.  In fact, some of these should have been on my list, in retrospect, and would have been.
  • The Graduate (1967) - Great soundtrack, and should have been on my list.  Plus, it's one of the rare classic movies. Also features one of the greatest cars ever, the original boattail Alfa Spyder.
  • The Big Chill (1983) - Again, it should have been on the list.  Great movie, and the soundtrack is a walk through fantastic '60s music.
  • American Graffiti (1973) - I think this movie did for it's generation what Risky Business and Fast Times did for mine.  Of course, I don't know anybody in this generation, so I'm just guessing.  
If we added those three to my list, that makes an even 20.  So, I'll claim them.

How about some more honorable mentions:
  • High Fidelity (2000)
  • Juno (2007)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
  • Romeo + Juliett (1996)
  • The Wedding Singer (1998)
  • Footloose (1984)
  • Pretty in Pink (1986)
  • 8 Mile (2002)
  • Pulp Fiction (1994)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • The Sound of Music(1965)

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