A good soundtrack sets the mood for a movie, a great soundtrack becomes just as memorable as the movie itself—here is a list of the ten best soundtracks of all time.
- "Requiem for a Dream" Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream" is an uncompromisingly bleak movie. It is hard to imagine it being as affecting as it is without Clint Mansell's iconic score. Mansell teamed up with the Kronos Quartet and added his electronic beats to their signature strings. The result is both chilling and beautiful.
- "Saturday Night Fever" Many people who didn't own a single other disco album had this one on their turntable at some point in the '70s. It helped launch John Travolta's career and made it acceptable for mainstream music listeners to enjoy such acts as the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, and even hip-hop prototypes Kool & the Gang.
- "Trainspotting" Much like the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack brought disco to the masses, the soundtrack for "Trainspotting" helped momentarily bring techno to the forefront of popular music during the late 1990s. The soundtrack isn't all techno, but it's most remembered for Underworld's "Born Slippy." Following the success of "Born Slippy" was a brief but brilliant burst of dance music often compared to the disco era.
- "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" Although the quality of various Wu-Tang Clan albums has been hit or miss, RZA's score to “Ghost Dog” is one of the best. RZA dialed back the bombast and braggadocio of other Wu-Tang albums and created a sparse, oddly beautiful hip-hop score that perfectly matched the trademark minimalism of Jim Jarmusch's film. A word of warning, though: Don't confuse RZA's impeccable score with the mostly underwhelming alternate soundtrack of so-so hip-hop acts that was released along with it in the United States.
- "This Is Spinal Tap" It would be hard to make an effective parody of a hard rock band without a spot-on soundtrack. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer are not just some of the best improvisational comedians around, they are also impressive musicians. They put their dual talents to good use with such libidinous classics as "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" and "Sex Farm." Just make sure you turn the volume up to eleven when you listen.
- "Pulp Fiction" Quentin Tarantino established his M.O. early on with "Reservoir Dogs," combining some of the most stylish films of the last two decades with equally stylish, retro soundtracks. It was with "Pulp Fiction" that he broke through to mainstream success, though, and it changed the cinematic landscape for years afterward, spawning many imitators.
- "Singles" This may have not have been one of the best films of the 1990s, but with bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden on its soundtrack it encapsulated the grunge rock era during which it was made. If you run a clothing store and are looking to sell off your surplus of flannel shirts, try piping this album over your speakers.
- "The Breakfast Club" You would be hard-pressed to find a soundtrack that sounds as quintessentially 1980s as this one. John Hughes was a master at finding songs to match the tone of his admittedly light films, and that is evident in his inclusion of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)." The movie and its use of that song may have been parodied many times since, but isn't parody the sincerest form of flattery?
- "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" There is something about "Willy Wonka" that transcends its intended younger audience. Perhaps it’s the stoner-friendly visuals of the film, or perhaps it's the childlike wisdom of its titular man-child. "We are the music makers," says Wonka, "and we are the dreamers of dreams." The sight of Oompa-Loompas hopping about and singing their vaguely menacing tunes makes for some strange dreams indeed.
- "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" It seems poetic that the Coen Brothers chose to release this deeply anachronistic film in the year 2000. Set during the great depression, it featured a soundtrack appropriate for the time period. Despite its vintage sound, though, this album of folk ballads sold incredibly well and was arguably the main draw of the movie.
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