26 Soundtracks That Were Way Better Than The Movies

It’s not that these movies were BAD — it’s just that the soundtracks for them were really, really awesome.

1. Empire Records [1995]

This is about as mid-90s as it gets, with songs by Gin Blossoms, The Cranberries, Better Than Ezra, Edwyn Collins, and Evan Dando.

ID: 1026097

Edwyn Collins, “A Girl Like You”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026973

2. Romeo + Juliet [1996]

This one overflows with prime alt-rock – pre-OK Computer Radiohead, Garbage, The Cardigans’ “Love Fool,” and an actually really great song by Everclear.

ID: 1026399

Radiohead, “Talk Show Host”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026955

3. Belly [1998]

Late ’90s hip-hop, in a nutshell: DMX, Ja Rule, Jay-Z, Drag-On, Noreaga, D’Angelo, and about half of the Wu-Tang Clan.

ID: 1026407

DMX, Method Man, Nas, and Ja Rule, “Grand Finale”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027225

4. Suburbia [1997]

A lost gem! This one features outstanding material from Sonic Youth, Beck, Superchunk, and a version of an old X song performed by Elastica and Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus.

ID: 1026099

Elastica featuring Stephen Malkmus, “The Unheard Music”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026119

5. The Twilight Saga: New Moon [2009]

All of the Twilight soundtracks are pretty good, but this is the peak of the series, with strong original songs by Bon Iver with St. Vincent, Death Cab for Cutie, Thom Yorke, Lykke Li, and Grizzly Bear.

ID: 1026471

Bon Iver and St. Vincent, “Rosyln”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026924

6. Poetic Justice [1993]

This soundtrack features the debuts of Usher, along with strong cuts from TLC, Mista Grimm featuring Warren G and Nate Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and Babyface.

ID: 1026406

Mista Grimm, “Indo Smoke”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027002

7. Batman Forever [1995]

This one is waaaaaaay better and more eclectic than it needs to be, with excellent hits by U2 and Seal (“Kiss From A Rose”!), plus outstanding tracks from Sunny Day Real Estate, Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey, Brandy, Method Man, Massive Attack, and The Flaming Lips.

ID: 1026100

U2, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026121

8. Garden State [2004]

This is the soundtrack that dragged sad guys with beards and acoustic guitars back into the mainstream. The Shins, Iron and Wine, Coldplay, Nick Drake, Colin Hay, and yet more Shins.

ID: 1026397

The Shins, “New Slang”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027010

9. The Crow [1994]

So much angst! Nine Inch Nails covering Joy Division, The Cure, Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, and Stone Temple Pilots at their very best.

ID: 1026101

Nine Inch Nails, “Dead Souls”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027027

10. Coneheads [1993]

This one is odd, but kinda works, with rare cuts by R.E.M. and Red Hot Chili Peppers mixed in with random hits by Soft Cell and Paul Simon. Just ignore the track with Barenaked Ladies covering Public Enemy.

ID: 1026102

R.E.M., “It’s A Free World, Baby”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026115

11. Saturday Night Fever [1977]

The movie was a big deal, but let’s be real, Saturday Night Fever was all about the music and this soundtrack is one of the biggest records of the ’70s and the defining album of the disco era. This is the Bee Gees at their pinnacle – “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” “You Should Be Dancing,” “Jive Talkin’” – but there’s strong stuff from Kool and the Gang and The Trampps too.

ID: 1026469

Bee Gees, “Night Fever”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026744

12. Above the Rim [1994]

This is pretty much nonstop classic West Coast hip-hop, with cuts from SWV, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Tha Dog Pound, plus Warren G and Nate Dogg’s immortal “Regulate.”

ID: 1026637

Warren G featuring Nate Dogg, “Regulate”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027133

13. Reality Bites [1994]

The Reality Bites soundtrack is like a strange, sentimental, and totally lovable mix tape featuring old hits from U2, The Knack, and Squeeze alongside songs by Dinosaur Jr., Juliana Hatfield Three, and uh, Ethan Hawke covering The Violent Femmes. All that, plus Lisa Loeb’s “Stay”!

ID: 1026400

Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories, “Stay (I Missed You)”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026755

14. Glitter [2001]

This movie may represent the lowest low of Mariah Carey’s career, but the soundtrack is still pretty solid.

ID: 1026403

Mariah Carey, “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026762

15. Top Gun [1986]

The music of Top Gun is even more bombastic than the movie itself – Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” Loverboy’s “Heaven In Your Eyes,” and Berlin’s astonishing “Take My Breath Away.”

ID: 1026470

Berlin, “Take My Breath Away”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026771

16. Juno [2008]

Juno made twee mainstream by introducing millions of people to Belle & Sebastian and The Moldy Peaches, but the soundtrack also includes classic songs by Cat Power, Sonic Youth, and The Velvet Underground.

ID: 1026401

Cat Power, “Sea of Love”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027042

17. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist [2008]

For some reason studios feel compelled to put a lot of cool music on the soundtracks of movies starring Michael Cera. This one includes material by Vampire Weekend, We Are Scientists, Band of Horses, Shout Out Louds, and Devendra Banhart.

ID: 1026402

Shout Out Louds, “Very Loud”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027077

18. Purple Rain [1984]

This is Prince’s best album and one of the greatest records of all time, but the movie is only just okay.

ID: 1026405

Prince, “When Doves Cry”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026818

19. The Bodyguard [1992]

The Bodyguard is a mediocre movie blessed with a soundtrack featuring some of the greatest material of Whitney Houston’s career.

ID: 1026468

Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026823

20. Bulworth [1998]

You probably don’t remember this comedy starring Warren Beatty, but the soundtrack sold a million copies on the strength of the smash hit “Ghetto Supastar,” plus material from Eve, RZA, Method Man, and Dr. Dre.

ID: 1026472

Pras, Mya, and Ol Dirty Bastard, “Ghetto Supastar”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026864

21. American Graffiti [1973]

This soundtrack, featuring 41 cuts, is basically a primer on late ’50s/early ’60s pop, with classics from Buddy Holly, The Platters, The Beachboys, Chuck Berry, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, The Flamingos, and The Big Bopper.

ID: 1026631

The Platters, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027164

22. Singles [1992]

Cameron Crowe movies always have outstanding soundtracks, but this one really captured the early ’90s grunge moment with classic songs from Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains, as well as the first hit from The Smashing Pumpkins, who had nothing to do with Seattle rock at all.

ID: 1026633

The Smashing Pumpkins, “Drown”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026726

23. Shaft [1971]

This is pretty much the same deal as with Prince – the movie is fine, but the soundtrack is a landmark in the history of funk.

ID: 1026634

Isaac Hayes, “Theme from Shaft”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026916

24. Pump Up the Volume [1990]

Weirdly, the soundtrack to Pump Up the Volume does not include the M.A.R.R.S. song “Pump Up the Volume.” It does, however, feature memorable material from Sonic Youth, Pixies, Bad Brains featuring Henry Rollins, Soundgarden, and Concrete Blonde.

ID: 1026635

Pixies, “Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026714

25. Great Expecations [1998]

This one has an odd mix of material, with glossy cuts by Pulp, Tori Amos, Chris Cornell and Duncan Sheik side by side with songs by Iggy Pop and The Grateful Dead.

ID: 1026979

Pulp, “Like A Friend”

View this embed ›

ID: 1026988

26. Marie Antoinette [2006]

Sophia Coppola movies always have great soundtracks, but in this case, it’s like she made a cool mix tape featuring New Order, Gang of Four, The Strokes, and The Cure, and then decided to make a movie.

ID: 1026636

New Order, “Ceremony”

View this embed ›

ID: 1027248

Check out more articles on!

  Your Reaction?


    Now Buzzing