Best Movie Soundtracks Ever

Friday, September 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

So what are the best movie soundtracks ever? Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friends. In the following article, I proudly present my selections for the best overall movie soundtracks ever committed to vinyl or CD. From gritty urban funk to swirling classical pomposity, this list will present hours of aural entertainment in a wide range of musical and cinematic genres. Listen to the songs, then head over to Netflix and rent the movies.

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For your convenience, each movie title on this list contains a hyperlink to its corresponding page on Amazon. They carry every soundtrack mentioned, and it’s the most convenient way to purchase them.

Star Wars (1977) – Presented by master composer John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra, this legendary sci-fi soundtrack comes with two discs packed full of music. Sadly, the theme for Darth Vader and the Imperial forces wouldn’t be fleshed out until later films, but there’s plenty here to like. Williams adds great depth to the characters via his compositions, and tracks such as “Princess Leia’s Theme” and “The Moisture Farm” have become synonymous with their respective subjects. A personal favorite remains the medley entitled “Ben Kenobi’s Death/Tie Fighter Attacks,” and there’s no way that “Cantina Band” won’t bring memories of the franchise flooding back. 24 stellar orchestral pieces in all.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Stanley Kubrick’s trippy meditation on creation and destruction gets a major lift from its unconventional soundtrack. Sci-fi fans were used to hearing futuristic sounds during their movies, so imagine the surprise when they were hit with a full dose of “Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zoroaster)” by composer Richard Strauss. There are plenty more classical hits to accompany Kubrick’s spiritual journey through time and space, including works by Ligeti and Khachaturian. It’s interesting to note that Kubrick had an original score commissioned for the film, but he later opted to go with works from classical masters. Good move.

Superfly (1972) – If you’re looking for a funky jam, it’s hard to beat this classic blaxploitation soundtrack from singer/songwriter/producer Curtis Mayfield. Social commentary and moral lessons are ever-present amidst the smooth soul sounds, making the soundtrack almost like another character in this film about a drug dealer seeking one last score. Sadly, songs like “Freddie’s Dead” and “Pusherman” are just as relevant today.

The Sound of Music (1965) – Rodgers & Hammerstein work their magic in this uplifting tale featuring the crystal clear voice of Julie Andrews. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’re bound to have heard some of the songs included here, such as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Even the film’s Nazi menace couldn’t dim the infectious optimism and magic of the soundtrack. Great for children and adults alike.

Saturday Night Fever (1977) – While John Travolta donned a white suit and strutted his stuff on the dance floor, this soundtrack was busy burning up the charts. If you hate the Bee Gees, then it’s best to stay away. But if you’re a fan or have yet to discover their falsetto magic, this soundtrack is well worth adding to your collection. The brothers Gibb weigh in with such hits as “Jive Talkin’,” “You Should Be Dancing,” “More Than a Woman,” and “Stayin’ Alive.” Other ‘70s performers also get in on the act, including K.C. and the Sunshine Band, The Trammps, and Kool and the Gang. The ultimate soundtrack from the disco era.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – As Hollywood moved from silent films to the talkies, many actors and actresses found the transition to be difficult. That’s one of the major themes of this classic musical from the 1950s, and the sound era is well represented by the soundtrack from composer Nacio Herb Brown. It doesn’t hurt that his compositions are brought to life by the perpetually cheery trio of Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor. From “Good Morning” and “Make ‘Em Laugh” to “Singin’ in the Rain,” you’ll find one upbeat song after another to get your feet tapping and your face smiling.

American Graffiti (1973) – A nostalgic look back at the ‘50s and ‘60s courtesy of director George Lucas, the American Graffiti soundtrack is jam-packed with oldies. That’s because almost every vehicle in the film has its radio turned on, radiating a non-stop wall of sound introduced by deejay Wolfman Jack. The CD available from Amazon has 41 original hits, which is way more than most movie soundtracks can boast. Whether you’re interested in the Beach Boys or Buddy Holly, this is place to get your oldies fix. And Lucas knows exactly how to incorporate the tunes into his film, deftly creating a sense of teen wonder mixed with the creeping feeling that the end of innocence is fast approaching.

Purple Rain (1984) – Prince was always a better singer/songwriter than an actor, and this soundtrack shows why. Youthful rebellion mingles with tales of sensuality and regret to form a masterpiece of ‘80s pop rock. High energy from start to finish, you’ll recapture your youth with “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” and “I Would Die 4 U.”

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – It’s The Beatles…in a movie. Need I say more? Seriously, though, it’s the freakin’ Beatles. How could this not make my list of the best soundtracks ever? Includes “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “If I Fell,” and many more.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) – This one is a nostalgic choice for me, as I used to watch The Wizard of Oz once a year on television during my youth. The songs still hold up, with such classic works as “Over the Rainbow,” If I Only Had a Brain,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” and “Lollipop Guild.” There’s a feeling of childlike wonder at work throughout the soundtrack, and it never fails to invoke sentimentality in the listener.

Now that you’re better informed about the best soundtracks ever, be sure to head over to Amazon and place your order. And once you’ve fallen in love with the music, make a visit to Netflix and experience the movie. Sure, we get a small commission when you make a purchase or become a subscriber, but it adds nothing to your cost and helps pay for the day-to-day maintenance of the site.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 17th, 2010 at 10:33 am and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Best Movie Soundtracks Ever”

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September 17, 2010

thebeardedtrio

Great post. Here’s my twist on the subject. Bad movies that have great soundtracks.

http://www.thebeardedtrio.com/2010/09/top-ten-bad-movies-that-have-great.html

(Glad Star Wars was in the list btw)

September 17, 2010

Shane

Nice idea for a post! Thanks for sharing.

September 18, 2010

Stef

Great post.Thanks.

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