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  • Writer's pictureLouise Higginbottom

Best Movie Soundtracks

This post is about what makes a great movie soundtrack arranged into my own top 10.

The only rule I have set myself for this is that the film cannot be a musical, it must be about the songs chosen to accompany the story – not the songs written to tell the story.

10. Donnie Darko (2001)

The score for this film is full of slightly unsettling melodies which pair well with the plot, but in between these are some 80s indie classics from Joy Division to Echo and the Bunnymen which eerily fit into the storyline and era of the film.

Perhaps most eery of all is Gary Jules’ cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” as the film concludes which oddly went on to be a very a depressing Christmas number 1 in the UK.

Best Song – “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen

9. Almost Famous (2000)

One of the best films ever made, I could watch this over and over again. The soundtrack offers up a much less cringy side of “classic” rock such as Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed and Cat Stevens which is the perfect accompaniment to the story about a 1970s American rock band. The stand out soundtrack related moment of the film though is the sing-along to Tiny Dancer on the tour bus.

Best Song – “That’s the Way” by Led Zeppelin

8. Spider Man (2002)

This is on here because recently the gift that is Spotify’s Time Capsule playlist has shuffled Chad Kroeger’s “Hero” into my headphones. I am no Nickelback fan, but I must encourage fellow non-Nickelback fans to listen to “Hero” and tell me they don’t think it is a great song.

I really like this film in which Tobey Maguire makes his debut as Peter Parker, though it seems to have got lost in the manufacturing line of superhero movies that have followed in recent years – along with it’s great soundtrack that also offers Stone Sour, Sum 41, The Strokes, The Hives and Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains).

Best Song – “Hero” Featuring Josey Scott by Chad Kroeger

7. American Pie (1999)

I watched American Pie long before I was old enough to, and therefore also before I had discovered a love of pop punk.

It could be said that this film has not aged particularly well over the last 20+ years, but the soundtrack, full of late 90s alternative bands like Third Eye Blind, Blink-182 and Hole still stands up well in 2022.

Best Song – “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind

6. Love Actually (2003)

Despite a plot filled with people doing slightly toxic things and then being forgiven just on time for Christmas, this might be my favourite Christmas film.

Released in 2003, this film is filled with hits that I fondly remember watching on the two FreeView music channels available to me aged 12. With Joni Mitchell and the Beach Boys also featuring, there is something for everyone but the stand outs for me come from Girls Aloud and Sugababes.

Best Song – “Too Lost In You” by Sugababes

5. 10 things I hate about you (1999)

10 things I hate about you is the best high school movie of the 90s – which is a moment in time for many great movies of this kind.

Perhaps driven by the Julia Stiles' character Kat’s love for “angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion” the film is supported well by a guitar friendly soundtrack featuring Letters to Cleo – who play out the ending with a better-than-the-original cover of “I Want You To Want Me’, Semisonic and the Cardigans.

Best Song – “F.N.T.” by Semisonic

4. Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Baz Luhrmann’s 90’s take on Shakespeare is great in many ways, but like the other films in the list once again made greater by the inclusion of suitable background music.

Des’ree’s “Kissing You” is arguably the most memorable musical moment from the movie as DiCaprio’s and Dane’s characters meet for the first time at the ball, but this soundtrack offers endless classics including Garbage and Radiohead.

Best Song – “Lovefool” by the Cardigans

3. Trainspotting (1996)

A British movie that would possibly lack iconic status without the sounds of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Underworld.

Every key moment of the film is made that bit more memorable with the music in the background.

Best Song – “Born Slippy” - Underworld

2. Cruel Intentions (1999)

This is well up there with 10 Things I Hate About You in terms of 1990s teen classics, with fewer feel good vibes.

Having watched this movie some years after it first came out I already knew a lot of the songs that feature in the film, but hearing them alongside the story has changed the way I listen to them. For an American film, British music features heavily from Placebo, Fatboy Slim, Blur and of course The Verve, who’s “Bittersweet Symphony” is one of the best matched songs to play out a film ever.

Best Song – “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve

1. Singles (1992)

Grunge was my first self-found real music love that had little influence from my parents or mainstream TV and radio, so of course my number 1 has to be Cameron Crowe’s “Singles”.

The film itself is set in front of a Seattle backdrop of coffee shops and alternative clubs. Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam play the members of fictional band Citizen Dick and the real Alice in Chains and Soundgarden also feature.

Best Song – “Seasons” – Chris Cornell

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