Ever since Guardians of the Galaxy hit our screens last month with its kick-arse, balls-to-the-wall, take-no-’70’s-power ballad playlist, it has got us thinking about some other amazing soundtracks.
A film’s soundtrack is a key ingredient in its success and how we remember it: When you think Reservoir Dogs, you think Stuck in the Middle with You; it’s impossible to picture Rocky without Eye of the Tiger running through your head; and we defy you to conjure up Space Jam without humming R-Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly. No? Just us ’90s kids then.
But the point still stands, a soundtrack can make or break a movie, and here are some of our favourites…
We all know and love a bit of Ewan McGregor diving into a toilet to fish out a suppository, but where would the film be without the unforgettable scene where he decides to ‘Choose Life’? McGregor running down that road in Edinburgh to the tune of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” is burned into the memory of any good film addict with a clarity that few other tracks can rival.
Underworld’s “Born Slippy”, meanwhile, was a club hit that was propelled into pop culture by Trainspotting, and Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ still sends a shiver down the spine when coupled with the scene of Renton’s overdose.
This is Spinal Tap
It’s rare that a film will have an entirely original soundtrack, let alone an original soundtrack written for and performed by the protagonists of the film. Spinal Tap might have been a parody rock band, but they wrote some real rock songs! This Is Spinal Tap led the way for musicians and actors to really delve into the music biz and create something that sits in harmony with film itself.
Some eternal classics include: “Big Bottom”, “Hell Hole”, “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”, and the cream of the crop, “Stonehenge”. This soundtrack really does go all the way up to 11!
This soundtrack really reflects the movie as a whole – and Ryan Gosling’s sombre and detached performance, which is so crucial to Drive tech-noir stylings. There’s not a moment when the music jars with what’s on screen: the ’80s synth tracks are utilised to great effect and almost began a re-emergence of the use of synthesisers in popular music.
The brain-child of former Chilli Peppers drummer Clive Martinez, this OST stays with you a long time after viewing; the stand out being “Real Hero” by College and Electric Youth, the film’s haunting main track.
The Social Network
Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor helms this fantastic Oscar-winning soundtrack, perfectly accompanying David Fincher’s biographically-tailored tale of ANTI-social actions, greed, and isolation. The Social Network is certainly a great film in its own right, but the soundtrack lends a bleak ambiance throughout that you may not even notice at times – to its credit – but which subtly changes and evolves along with the action.
Reznor is phenomenal at creating soundscapes, a talent he utilises in his own work, but here he takes it to a whole new level. The opening piece of music, “Hand Covers Bruise”, is a supreme indicator of his ability to set (and maintain) the mood of a film.
It’s a widely known fact that Tarantino only uses music he has in his vinyl collection, and, based on Pulp Fiction, that’s a collection we’d like to get our hands on. From Chuck Berry to Al Green with a brief stop-over with Neil Diamond, this is a classic collection of hits, but, again, what makes it special is the marrying of the music with iconic scenes: Chuck Berry’s “You Never can Tell” is a rock n’ roll touchstone, but matched with a shoeless Uma Thurman and John Travolta doing the twist, it stays with you forever.
Just like with Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino uses sound and image to create truly memorable, cinematic moments. A personal favourite of ours is Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”, playing (ironically) over Thurman’s memorably learning that not every powder that comes in a baggie is cocaine. Iconic Tarantino.
The Blues Brothers
Ok, we know this makes 6 but this is possibly the greatest soundtrack on offer as it merges the film with the music seamlessly! This is because, in The Blues Brothers, the music IS the movie. Not dissimilar to This Is Spinal Tap, The Blues Brothers intertwines music with plot, using the band that the eponymous brothers, Jake and Elwood, are trying to get back together as the catalyst for the film and the soundtrack.
This OST includes all of the greats, from Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles to James Brown and Steve Winwood (most of whom actually perform in the film) whilst also working in some amazing set pieces and some of the funniest scenes in cinema history. What The Blues Brothers does is make a spectacle of music in the best possible way; though there was never any doubt this would succeed: after all, they are on a mission from God.
But what do you think? Think Trainspotting is too obvious a pick? Think The Third Man‘s zither score should have made the cut? Sound off in the comments!