Soundtracks to movies can take a movie from good to great. Some soundtracks can catapult the movie to instant stardom, and also be incredibly successful in their own right. Music and movies have always been a brilliant pairing within entertainment. So, let’s take a look at the best soundtracks to movies of all time!
Our Picks For The Best 10 Soundtracks To Movies
Christopher Nolan’s Inception was a smash hit at the box office in 2010. Hans Zimmer created the soundtrack, and described it as “a very electronic, dense score filled with nostalgia and sadness”. Zimmer also revealed that the soundtrack works around Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien“. The soundtrack is a perfect balance of devastating and delicate, with brooding motifs matching the tone of the scene perfectly.
The soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Also, the guitar sound featured frequently in the soundtrack was played by Johnny Marr of The Smiths!
9. The Exorcist
A true cultural phenomenon, The Exorcist changed the face of horror. The music used in the movie is minimal but chilling. The most recognizable sound from the soundtrack is Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”. Also featured are Classical compositions such as Cello Concerto No.1 of Polymorphia, work from Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and Austrian composer Anton Webern.
Before director Friedkin settled on “Tubular Bells”, he had originally commissioned a score from composer Lalo Schifrin. This was used in the “banned trailer”. This trailer made audiences physically sick, as the combination of the frightening scenes and music were too heavy at the time.
8. A Star Is Born
A remake of the 1937 and 1954 movies, A Star Is Born hit the big screen in 2018. The addition of pop sensation Lady Gaga as the main character proved to be a stellar choice regarding the soundtrack. Director and fellow co-star Bradley Cooper wrote alongside Gaga to provide the soundtrack, saying that “the music really became a character in the movie”. There is a wide range of music in the movie, featuring elements of blues, rock, country, folk and pop.
The song “Shallow” won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, as well as being nominated for the same category at the Golden Globes. The film’s soundtrack received a whopping seven Grammy nominations, winning four. Finally, it was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year not once… but twice!
7. The Graduate
The Graduate is a 1967 movie consisting of romance, drama and comedy. The story centers around 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson, and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine. The soundtrack features many songs from duo Simon & Garfunkel, as well as instrumental tracks from Dave Grusin. The most recognizable songs are “Mrs Robinson” and “The Sound Of Silence”.
The now infamous track “Mrs Robinson” wasn’t quite completed in time. In a last minute dash, Simon & Garfunkel pitched a partially written song, which sang “Mrs Roosevelt”. This was changed to “Mrs Robinson” for the movie. Garfunkel said “there was no verse yet, so in the movie you hear: ‘doo doo doo doo. Only the chorus was there”.
1996 black comedy Trainspotting follows a group of heroin addicts living in poverty in Edinburgh. The soundtrack features the likes of Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Blur, Pulp and Primal Scream. As a collection of Brit pop tracks alongside older classics and modern dance hits, the soundtrack takes us on a journey. Director Danny Boyle said “We decided early on that we weren’t going to score the film in a traditional way… One of the ways we can actually identify the period is to move from Iggy Pop through to dance music – [when] Renton moves to London and goes to a rave – right up to Pulp, Blur, Sleeper and Elastica”
Two Trainspotting soundtracks were released – one in 1996 and one in 1997. The second album included songs that didn’t make it into the first album, as well as songs that didn’t appear in the final film. Also, in 2007, editors of Vanity Fair magazine ranked the first soundtrack as the 7th best motion picture soundtrack ever!
Jaws is the iconic 1975 thriller movie that made us all not want to go back into the water! All about a man-eating Great White shark, the soundtrack needed to mirror this intensity. Legendary composer John Williams created the score, crafting a memorable theme or motif that all of us know well. The main “shark” theme is a simple alternating pattern of two notes, which are E and F, or F and F#.
The score for Jaws is rated as the sixth greatest score of all time by the American Film Institute. It also won an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
4. The Bodyguard
Released in 1992, The Bodyguard is a love story between a music superstar and her bodyguard as he protects her from a stalker. The soundtrack is full of pop ballads, as well as soul and R&B elements. The infamous “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, who played superstar Rachel in the movie, became a hit in its own right
The Bodyguard soundtrack is the best-selling soundtrack of all time. It is certified 18x Platinum due to its sales of over 45 million copies! It also went on to win a Grammy for Album Of The Year and remains the 15th best-selling album in the US.
3. Top Gun
1986 action-drama smash Top Gun‘s soundtrack is widely known as one of the greatest! Directed by Tony Scott, the movie tells the story of Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. He is a young naval aviator aboard aircraft carried USS Enterprise. The soundtrack itself features Kenny Loggins, Miami Sound Machine, Larry Greene and more.
The Top Gun soundtrack reached 9x Platinum certification. In 1986, it also remained at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 Albums chart for 5 non-consecutive weeks. The famous song “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin also won an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
2. Purple Rain
1984 Rock/musical drama Purple Rain features superstar Prince as ‘The Kid’. The movie contains various concert sequences, and is regarded as one of the best musical films of all time. The soundtrack features synthesizers, electric guitars and drum machines, and works within a psychedelic pop genre.
The soundtrack won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score. In 2019, the film was also added by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. This was for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. It also won multiple Grammies, and its total sales stand at 25 million copies worldwide.
1. Pulp Fiction
Taking our top spot is 1994 neo-noir black comedy crime smash Pulp Fiction. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, it tells the story of various criminals in Los Angeles. The soundtrack features an eclectic mix, such as Dusty Springfield, Kool & The Gang and Neil Diamond.
The soundtrack features four tracks of dialogue snippets followed by a song, and three tracks of dialogue alone. Seven songs featured in the movie were also not included in the original 41-minute soundtrack.
The Best Soundtracks To Movies: Summary
There you have it! We hope you enjoyed our picks for the best soundtracks to movies of all time. If you’re looking for music to use in your own film to create a soundtrack as iconic as these, check out our catalog. With over 80,000 tracks, you’re sure to find the perfect mix for your movie!