Soundtracks can often be what makes or breaks a movie. The music helps set the scene, express emotion and enhance the story. Whether the soundtrack is fully instrumental, made up of all-star artists or only composed of songs from the 80’s, it is essential for a film’s effect on the audience.
These are my top ten favorite movie soundtracks of all time, subjectively ranked by what I feel enhance the movie watching experience and remembrance the most.
10. Nacho Libre
This movie is one of my childhood favorites that I would sing or hum along to every time a song was played throughout the film. It has some of the catchiest and upbeat tracks that are undeniably enjoyable. They bring the audience joy when heard, which emphasizes the comedic and relishable moments in the film.
Soundtrack highlights: “Hombre Religioso” by Mr. Loco, “10,000 Pesos” by Beck and “Irene” by Caetano Veleso
The majority of the songs on this soundtrack are pretty weird. They are not tracks I feel like most people listen to on the regular. Although the songs on this album are a little quirky, I think the choices perfectly exemplify the teenage journey and two odd-ball main characters the story follows.
Soundtrack highlights: “So Nice So Smart’ by Kimya Dawson, “A Well Respected Man” by the Kinks and “Anyone Else But You” by The Moldy Peaches
8. Big Daddy
Adam Sandler and the Sprouse twins star in this fun and heartfelt movie with a great soundtrack to accompany it. The music in this film really helps bring playful, loving and sad feelings to scenes which heavily influence the impact of the movie. The music is so gracefully incorporated into different montages or sound effects throughout and I feel each song choice was perfectly crafted.
Soundtrack highlights: “When I Grow Up” by Garbage, “Passin Me By” by The Pharcyde and “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns n Roses
7. La La Land
This 2016 musical is one of my favorite soundtracks because of the diverse music choices and the catchy tunes. Although better dancers and singers could have been cast in the film, the songs and scenes correlated with the selections are just as memorable. Each song uses jazz to perfectly summarize what emotions are being portrayed on screen.
Soundtrack highlights: “Someone in the Crowd,” “Start a Fire” and “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme”
“The Big Short” is a very intense and dramatic film and the score was one of the first things that stood out to me. Nicholas Brittel composed the music so well to accompany the different scenes and characters throughout the film. The movie soundtrack is also amazing including many well known classic songs and makes the audiences experience just that more intense.
Soundtrack highlights: “Lithium” written by Kurt Cobain but performed by The Polyphonic Spree, “Feel Good Inc” by Gorillaz and “Master of Puppets“ by Metallica
This movie has always been one where I rediscover my obsession of the characters, fashion and music every so often. The music is integral to the movie because it is a story following a group of teens that work at a record store. Music is the soul of this film. It is used throughout the film to help characterize the people and relationships.
Soundtrack highlights: “Liar” by the Cranberries (it was already one of my previous favorite songs), “Sugarhigh” by Coyote Shivers and “Till I Hear It From You” by Gin Blossoms. Another notable song that isn’t actually on the soundtrack is “Money” by The Flying Lizards.
4. Baby Driver
Although a lot can be said about some of the infamous actors in “Baby Driver,” I would like to focus on the music. The movie is some-what fast paced – filled with action, adventure and romance – and the music really allows those aspects to shine through. One of the conversations that take place in the movie is about songs about names. The Deborah and Baby meet cute consists of the two talking about two songs with their names in it. Deborah has two, but Baby wins since he has the most songs with the name “Baby” in it.
Soundtrack highlights: “Baby” by Carla Thomas, “Debra” by Beck and “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” by Barry White
Once again, a Michael Cera movie appears on this list. In this movie, the music is a little different. One of the biggest parts of this movie is the “Battle of the Bands.” Many different bands throughout the movie have songs on the soundtrack.
Music is also used to help express how characters are feeling throughout the film. For example, “I Heard Ramona Sing” by Frank Black is used to help show the awe Scott Pilgrim feels when he finds his dream girl, Ramona.
Soundtrack highlights: “Teenage Dream” by T. Rex, “Black Sheep” by Metric (although I prefer Envy Adams’ version a little more) and “Ramona” by Beck
This movie’s soundtrack is iconic. The song choices perfectly sum up each character and event. The first stand-out moment is in the opening scene when a group of teenage, bubbly girls are dancing in a car on the way to school listening to “One Week” by BareNaked Ladies. Then Kat, “the shrew,” rolls up listening to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett. A clear contrast in music and characters is displayed. The music is filled with 90’s hits like “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G. and “Push It” by Salt-N- Pepa.
Soundtrack highlights: “Your Winter” by Sister Hazel, “F.N.T” by Semisonic and “I Want You To Want Me” by Letters to Cleo
This is my favorite movie soundtrack of all time. Every single song on this album is terrific. They perfectly sum up the romance (or lack thereof) and friendship throughout the non-love story, love story. I honestly believe every single song on this album fits in so well.
The first connection between Summer and Tom is their mutual love for The Smiths. This music related spark allows for some very classic Smith songs to appear. All of the songs on this soundtrack are my favorite.
Soundtrack highlights: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths, “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, “Mushaboom” by Feist, and “She’s Got You High” by Mumm-Ra
I absolutely adore movie soundtracks and believe they are the gravity to my satisfaction within a movie. From movie scores that are composed around the characters and stories to the soundtrack music that elevates them, music is an essential and integral part of film that should never be overlooked.