Tim McGovern gives us a rundown of ten top films which merit a thorough listening to, as well as being worth a watch!
Before I begin with my list, I am aware that there are some classic movies that are missing from this list. Just to clarify, I would like to say that this list is instead 10 movie soundtracks that are worth listening to in their own right, separate from the film they feature in. Imagine driving along and playing these scores without a care in the world! I’d certainly enjoy the following. With this clarified, and over 100 years of film soundtracks against me, please forgive me if I miss your favourite score!
The Blues Brothers (1980)
This is a cult film, with a cult score to match. It features huge names who also starred in the film with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The story follows Jake and Ellwood Blues who are “on a mission from God” to save the orphanage they grew up in, whilst running from the police, Jake’s ex and the Chicago Nazis. It covers a range of Blues songs including ‘Minnie the Moocher’, ‘She caught the Katy’ and ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’. This soundtrack is capped off by the star-studded cameos that appear in body and voice, with James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway all joining Belushi and Aykroyd in this legendary comedy.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Various artists
For people of younger (and possibly older generations), the songs from this great film are enough to make anyone happy. The songs complement the action of the film to a tee and due to the fact that they cover so many genres, you are never left bored and almost await the next musical interlude in the film! The fact that the music is also part of the film with the infamous ‘Awesome mix tape’ makes it something worthwhile. Whether that be the Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ or Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. One other factor why this almost has to be on this list is the time it spent in the charts. It was number 1 in the US Billboard 200, Top soundtracks, Top Rock Albums, Top Digital Soundtracks and even reached number 2 in the UK Compilation albums chart.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – Ennio Morricone
This is one of the finest films I have ever seen and I hold a special place for it in my heart. But who doesn’t know the distinctive theme to this wonderful film of the brilliant “Dollars Trilogy”. Composed by one of the finest composers in film history, Ennio Morricone, the soundtrack was made to measure for this movie. Whether it is the distinctive ‘Main Title’ or ‘L’estasi dell’oro (The Ecstasy of Gold)’. Morricone is a film legend and also contributed to many other films that could make it onto my list such as ‘The Hateful Eight (2015)’, ‘Cinema Paradiso (1989)’, ‘The Untouchables (1987), and ‘The Mission (1986)’ which are all worthy films in their own right.
Trainspotting (1996) – Various Artists
This (along with many others on this list) is a very fine compilation album. Trainspotting as a film features one of the most iconic film openings of all time with ‘Renton’ and ‘Spud’ running from some security guards accompanied to Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’. It instantly hits the sweet spot the film is trying to get you to feel. It also celebrates Britpop and classic rock by such acts as David Bowie, Brian Eno and Underworld to cap off a perfect range of songs which go hand in hand with a pretty awesome film.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) – John Williams
Whether you love, hate or have never seen Star Wars, this soundtrack has a place on any list. John Williams was simply genius in creating an orchestral symphony so iconic that generations of people can identify within seconds. So many have used his work from this film in parody, TV and it has also been used in any other merchandisable film or Star Wars related TV show. It has created a legacy in the movie industry so whether you like it or not, you must respect its status as a movie soundtrack tour de force.
Forrest Gump (1994) – Various Artists
To anyone who hasn’t seen this Tom Hanks classic, it is well worth your time. The soundtrack from this movie is takes us on a tour of the second half of the 20th Century. This compilation CD gives us just a small bite of whatever we want. ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis, ‘Mrs Robinson’ by Simon and Garfunkel, ‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac, ‘Blowing in the Wind’ by Joan Baez and ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin are just a few of the hit tracks that accompany this hit film.
The Lion King (1994) – Various artists
This is a Disney classic. If you say to someone “Name a Disney movie” this will be in the first three that everyone says. The songs have been transferred to the West End, Broadway and all over the world on stage. It is the retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ but caters for every kind of audience. Everyone around the world loves it. The only thing worth noting though, is that to this day, no-one actually knows the real words to ‘The Circle of Life’ from the very start. ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’ are other classics to appear.
Saturday Night Fever (1977) – The Bee Gees
This is the best-selling soundtrack of all time. Enough said. “Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk…” A landmark film. This soundtrack takes us back to the seventies like no other film can. It has amassed such a huge following over the years that you can still go into bars and clubs, hear a song by the Bee Gees and think about this film. ‘More Than a Woman’, ‘How Deep is your Love?’ and ‘Stayin’ Alive’ are just a few wonderful songs from ‘Saturday Night Fever’ that have stood the test of time. Anytime you hear these bangers, whether that be in your room, in the car, or out and about, I bet you think you could dance as well as John Travolta in that movie…
The Great Gatsby (2013) – Various artists
Any soundtrack with work by The XX, Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, Emeli Sande, Gotye, Nero, Sia, will.i.am, Beyonce and Jay Z is bound to be good. I’m not going to lie though, I was not really a fan of this film overall as I feel it was overhyped by people who studied English Literature… This probably comes from enduring two years of overanalysing the book of the same name for GCSE English. So I am very biased on the story and what little meaning I think there is in the book and film. But nevertheless, the soundtrack combines two very different time periods very well. It incorporates Jazz and hip hop to create a sound that could come from the 1920s that people of today could still enjoy. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I can imagine, but it still has created something that very few films have done. Juxtaposing two time periods together to create a collaboration that has created a new sound. I think that’s quite cool, but my stance on how the green light at the end of the pier could represent the American Dream in ‘The Great Gatsby’ remains unmoved.
Walk the Line (2005) – Johnny Cash and Various artists
I won’t lie, I am cheating slightly on this one. This is the biopic of Country legend Johnny Cash and features many of his hits. As a fan of country music, I understand that not all will share my beliefs, but nevertheless, Joaquin Phoenix who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Cash, and Reese Witherspoon, who won an Oscar for her depiction of June Carter, both deliver solid performances in the music that make it a worthy soundtrack in my book. ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Get Rhythm’ and ‘Walk the Line’ are three of my favourite songs. Cash’s version of the songs on their own are brilliant, but this soundtrack offers a new take on some Country classics.