The compact disc is not the only thing iTunes wiped out of pop culture. The movie soundtrack is all but extinct. There was a point in time when your big tent pole movies were accompanied with a high-powered soundtrack full of the day’s top artists. Not anymore. Artists want too much money to make it worth building a whole album around a movie that’s not a musical. Usually we are left with a random single that goes along with a movie out in cinemas. This allows the artist to reap all the financial rewards without splitting the pot with other bands. It’s a shame because there were some great soundtracks over the years. I thought this list would be easy to create, but it turns out this was one of the hardest lists to knock down to four. I’m not looking for movie musical scores. That’s another list for another day. I’m looking for artist assembled soundtracks. I’m sure there will be people disappointed with some of the omissions, but more than likely we will see a volume 2 of this list down the road. So let’s get to it with ‘The 4: Movie Soundtracks’.
This was a tough one. I’m a child of the 1980s and there are a ton of great soundtracks from the glory days of that decade. Dirty Dancing, Purple Rain and The Breakfast Club have a valid argument on why they should be on the list. For me, no other movie is synonymous with its soundtrack in the 80s than Footloose. The Footloose Soundtrack was number one on the pop charts for over a month and included two number one hits. Kenny Loggins’ title track “Footloose” and Deniece Willaims’ “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” both topped the chart and “Almost Paradise” was a top ten hit. The soundtrack was 9× Platinum and the movie Footloose would not have been the same film or a hit at the box office if it was without its catchy soundtrack. Everybody out there has cut Footloose at some point in their life.
You men may make fun of me if you want, but you’re a liar if you say you never sang along to a Grease song at least once when you were drunk in a bar during college. I’ve gone on record stating I despise musicals, but even I like Grease and the music associated with the film. The Grease soundtrack has credentials. The soundtrack remained at the top of the album charts for 13 consecutive weeks in the summer of 1978. The Grease soundtrack had four top 5 hits, including two number 1 hits (“Grease” & “You’re the One That I Want”). Even I have been known to sing Frank Valli loud in my car. Luckily for me and everyone else my windows were rolled up and tinted. I know some people may argue the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack should be in this spot, but for me, Grease is the word!
Pulp Fiction (1994)
This is the only soundtrack on the list that is mostly made up of previous released songs. The one original track “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill is actually a cover of a Neil Diamond song. It doesn’t matter though. The Pulp Fiction soundtrack breathed new life into songs like “Jungle Boogie”, “Let’s Stay Together” and “Son of a Preacher Man”. We also got to fall in love with the more obscure songs on the soundtrack including “Flowers on the Wall” and “You Never Can Tell”. I usually hate film dialogue on a soundtrack, but with the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, it makes you feel as if you are watching the movie in your mind as you listen to the tunes. In my opinion, Pulp Fiction is the coolest soundtrack of the 1990s for highlighting familiar classics as well as some undiscovered gems from the past.
The Crow (1994)
A dark brooding soundtrack to go with a gritty and violent film that unfortunately marked the end of Brandon Lee’s life. The Crow soundtrack was full of original tracks from the top artists in alternative and metal music of the time. Everyone from The Cure, Violent Femmes to Pantera and the Rollins Band are on the album. The best Stone Temple Pilots song in my opinion, “The Big Empty” resides on The Crow soundtrack. I can still throw on this soundtrack and jam to the instrumental drums of Nine Inch Nails’ “Dead Souls” in my car like I was back at Courtland High School in Virginia. This was a heavy soundtrack that personified the edge and feel of The Crow.