Movies or music; I don't know which I like more. If I had to pick, I would probably go with music. If nothing else because I don't travel thousands of miles to go see a movie. Also, I don't have to worry about needing 3D glasses to watch bands I really want to see.
The best thing about movies, though, is that they can incorporate amazing music and then it's like the best of both worlds coming together. Which is why I felt it appropriate to do an article discussing my favourite soundtracks of all time. (We also briefly covered this topic in our last podcast so since I was struggling to find something to write about, I figured I'd do this...)
Two things to point out before getting going:
1) These are all soundtracks I have owned somewhere along the way. I acknowledge that the soundtracks to The Graduate or to Trainspotting are arguably better soundtracks than some of the ones I've listed. But I never listened to them so I don't count them.
2) These are also soundtracks with pop and/or rock music. There are soundtracks such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator and probably Amadeus that have a lot of beautiful, lyricless music that I couldn't really include. So I'm going with soundtracks with lyrics and, you know, guitars.
So here we go!
(Oh, as per usual, if you disagree, you're wrong, but I welcome your thoughts anyway. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on your favourite soundtracks. Tell me what I missed.)
Holy crap did I love this soundtrack. I remember listening to it religiously on my walkman, as I only had it on cassette tape.
I wonder if it's available on iTunes.
I wonder if it's available on CD on Amazon.
I legitimately loved this album when I was growing up. With the advent of CDs and discmans (discmen?) I kind of stopped listening to this album. Before that happened, though, I bet you I listened to "TURTLE Power" a thousand times. I had the entire song memorized. It was such an influential song that I guarantee I could rap you the first verse. (I'm also 100% sure that this song was my introduction into rap/hip-hop music.)
And now you can listen to it too:
The rest of the soundtrack was decent enough. "9.95" was okay (although, I'm still not sure I know what the number represents) and "Spin That Wheel" was alright, but Partners In Kryme's iconic "TURTLE Power" was the reason this album is kicking off this list.
In all reality, this one should probably be higher than it is, but there are a few songs on it that are only okay.
This album has a lot of amazing classic rock songs on it, as well as some cool covers of classic rock songs. Marylin Manson does an okay version of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell," and Pantera's cover of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" is pretty decent, But the best cover is Everclear's cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town."
I'm not the biggest KISS fan, but I don't dislike them. And, obviously, a movie about four high schoolers who are trying to get to Detroit to go see KISS is going to have a few of their songs. The title track of the movie makes its appearance, as does "Shout It Out Loud." As far as KISS songs go, I like those ones quite a bit.
This is easily an album you (and by you, I mean, I) could listen to beginning to end. It's just solid music all the way through. Plus this song is on it, and who doesn't love this song?
8) Pulp Fiction
Full disclosure: this will not be the last time Tarantino falls on this list. He just does soundtracks so well!
One of my favourite parts about his soundtracks is that they're laced with little moments from the movie. You get the Ezekiel speech from Samuel L Jackson, there's the Zed's Dead bit by Bruce Willis. All kinds of fun little clips.
The songs on this album are good, but it doesn't really have a flow. I mean that in the sense that you go from "Misirlou" (which the Black Eyed Peas have almost effectively ruined) through "Lonesome Town" to "Flowers On The Wall." Crazy rock songs to weird kind of country songs. I suppose it makes sense because the movie itself is sort of disjointed, but I just find the songs have such a range, it doesn't make sense the way they're ordered.
It doesn't take away from the stellarness of the soundtrack. (It's so good that I'll make up words.) Plus it has the song "Son of a Preacher Man" which is great. Although, I can never hear it without thinking of this scene from The Office:
Thanks Melora Hardin.
Shaun might argue with me on this, but I believe the soundtrack for this movie is better than the movie itself. And that's not to say that the movie is bad. It's to say that the soundtrack is just that good.
Old-timey music, man. It's so simple, but so, so good. Obviously that's sort of the plot, as we follow the Soggy Bottom Boys and their musical escapades, in a time when music was simpler. I mean, all you had to do was sing into a can and they would turn it into musical magic.
The songs are so charming. They're not necessarily the best songs, in the sense that I love modern music, but damn are they so good. Allison Kraus sings "Down To The River" and it's just gorgeous, and who doesn't love "You Are My Sunshine?" It's just so delightful.
And really, the reason we all know this soundtrack is on my list:
I told you it was coming. While in our podcast about top movies from the 90s, neither Shaun or I picked this movie and both picked Pulp Fiction, I think that this soundtrack is superior. There are actually fewer songs on this one than there are on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, but I would argue that on a whole, they're better.
We can all remember Michael Madsen dancing around to Stealers Wheel's "Stuck In The Middle With You" and now it's all I can think of when I hear that song. But that's okay, because it might be the best song from either of the two soundtracks put together.
When I talked about Pulp Fiction, I mentioned that there are little clips from the movie in the soundtrack. This one is the same. But they're better. Partially because you get to hear Harvey Keitel talking about how the jewelry heist is going to go, but also because you get to hear Steven Wright as the DJ for KBILLY's Super Sounds of the 70s and his deep, monotonous voice is amazing.
While I think "Stuck in the Middle With You" might be my favourite song from the soundtrack(s) this is a close second. It's just so... cool. And it always reminds me of my cousin Sean. And I like that.
Okay. Now we're getting into the really good ones. Numbers 6-10 are great soundtracks but they could be shuffled around and, on any day, they might not necessarily make the cut. I could put something like Singles in there instead, as that soundtrack is amazing, but I never really listened to it growing up (though, looking at the track listing, I can't believe it's not number one. It's really fucking good. So good, I use profanity.)
Anyway. As I was saying. These last five (or first five depending on how you look at it) are unequivocally in my top-five.
Starting with this one. The movie itself is tremendous but then you add on the unbelievable music beginning to end? Top notch soundtrack. I legitimately think that if they took out the song "Jim Dandy," this might have cracked my top-3. But I don't love that song so it falters just a little bit. Beyond that, though, it's a stellar soundtrack. I mean; the movie takes place in 1976, if it wasn't full of kick ass rock music, it would be a travesty. Plus, I mean, it's Richard Linklater. The guy knows what he's doing.
Now. In keeping up with the trend of putting songs from the soundtracks on here. Here's Lynyrd Skynrd.
There is no pretence that I like movie clips in my soundtracks. I mentioned it in both Tarantino movies on the list. Well nobody is as good for movie clips as the man, Robin Williams. Adrian Cronauer was/is one of my all-time favourite movie characters. He's so manic in the first half, and then the second half he's just so heartbreaking. But when we get those great Robin Williams moments on the album, I can almost picture Robin Williams in his Cretan camouflage and it always puts a smile on my face.
But then, beyond Williams' razor sharp wit and remarkable improv skills, you have a plethora of some of the greatest songs from an incredible era of music. I often maintain that I was born in the wrong era. I always figured, based on the music I like, that I should have been born in about 1940, as then I would have been 20+ in the 60s. I would have loved that. But I wasn't. I was born in the 80s so I have to resort to things like the Good Morning, Vietnam soundtrack to listen to bitchin music from the 60s. Such as...
Incidentally, the second show I ever designed at Stage West was called Love Train. This was one of the songs in it. Now whenever I hear it, I half think of Good Morning, Vietnam and half think of Love Train. It's a good problem to have.
This is not the first time Pearl Jam has been involved in soundtracks. I've already mentioned Swingers, and they also were the group whose song plays on the closing credits of Tim Burton's Big Fish. (Disclaimer, that's just a fan video. But the song is correct.)
This one is a little different, though. Partially because I've listened to the soundtrack in its entirety, but also because it's not actually Pearl Jam on the soundtrack. It's just Eddie Vedder. And holy crap is it ever a phenomenal soundtrack.
I'm not a huge Sean Penn fan. I actually think he's kind of a schmo. But I sure do appreciate both this movie and the soundtrack. Emile Hirsch is a terrific actor, in my opinion and I really enjoyed this film. But to be honest, a lot of the reason I watched it was because I knew Ed did the soundtrack.
It's not a long soundtrack: 33:04. But it's solid beginning to end.
The first time I heard it, my roommate from several years ago was listening to it while he was drafting. I came into the living room to hang out and it was on in the background. I was an instant convert. Granted, I'll listen to basically anything Ed does, but the fact that it's good helps.
Obviously most everybody knows Hard Sun. It was the radio single, which makes sense as it was one of the few songs long enough to be on the radio. But there are so many better ones. Rise is an amazing song, both musically and lyrically so you should check that one out too. But "Society" is probably my favourite. I'd post the studio version of it but why do that when you can see two of the coolest people on earth play it together?
2) Top Gun
This album is SO 80s and I love it. This is the only album on the list I had on both cassette and CD. That means that I got it early enough in my childhood that I was still listening to my walkman but it also sustained and I liked it enough that I got it when CDs became the new norm.
There are only 10 songs on it! (Although, according to the Wiki page, the re-releases had WAY more songs and some unreal ones left off the original...) But each one is so good.
Kenny Loggins seems to have made his mint playing songs that ended up on Soundtracks. Between two of the first three songs on this album, as well as "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack, the dude had a few great hits on 80s movie soundtracks. None as good as Danger Zone, though. What a way to start the album. It just kicks everything off so well. And it's got that typical 80s pop-rock sound to it with the heavy guitar and intense bass/synth. As cheesy as it is, I love the song so much.
Looking at the tracks, the songs are still so good. I can hear them in my head without even hearing the music. That's how long I've been listening to the album.
I know I said that all the songs on the soundtracks had lyrics. Well obviously they don't ALL have lyrics. There were a couple instrumentaly type songs on a few of these albums. There might not be any as good as the Top Gun theme. I remember my cousin Ben learned this song and could play it on the organ at their house. He was also the one who introduced me to this soundtrack, so it seemed fitting that he could play the song. Also, it's just awesome.
Look at that hair!!! Man the 80s were awesome.
1) Forrest Gump
How could this not be number one? This was the movie Shaun and I were talking about when I got the idea to do my favourite soundtracks. I just re-watched the movie and the music is half the fun. Plus it was a double album! That was such a unique thing, and then we got this album that had 34 tracks on 2 CDs. What a treat!
And thing thing of it is: they're all good. Every song. I mean, the Randy Newman song, Mr. President isn't great but it's still pretty good. When I was growing up, I had a hard time deciding which disc was better. Some days it was disc 1, some days disc 2. I've never actually made a decision on that. I legitimately can't. They're both equally excellent.
If I had to pick one, I would say disc 2, only because it's bookended by unbelievable songs. At the beginning, you have Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane and at the end, you have the Forrest Gump Suite which is just a gorgeous piece of music. Speaking of lyricless songs... That is going to be the song we close out the article with but I want to say one more thing.
This movie, this soundtrack, is so good that there are several songs from the movie that didn't even make the cut. And not just one or two. There were SIXTEEN songs that didn't make the cut. Arguably some better songs than those that did make the cut. But I wasn't the one to make the soundtrack so I can't really complain. I actually might make a playlist of songs that were in the movie that aren't the soundtrack. I think it would be an excellent driving playlist. I also think it might be better than discs 1 or 2.
Anyway. Here's the song I love so much.
Gorgeous, isn't it?