Earlier today director Baz Luhrmann and executive producer Jay-Z released the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby and, on paper at least, it seems like a winner. Not only does it feature the likes of Florence and The Machine, The xx, Sia and Gotye, it’s got new material from Lana Del Rey and a host of covers: Beyonce andAndre 3000 doing Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back In Black’, Brian Ferry doing ‘Crazy in Love’ and Jack White’s take on U2’s ‘Love Is Blindness’ (which first appeared on a 2011 tribute album). But for The Great Gatsby to really cut through, it has to be more than just a compilation. Here are 10 soundtracks that not only sound good as a party playlist, but also conjure pivotal moments in their respective films. Listen to complete soundtracks here: http://bit.ly/Xurm0M
Regarded as one of the best British films of the past 20 years Trainspotting, director Danny Boyle, used an A-list cast of musical talent to give the film that extra bit of punch (like it actually needed more!). Featuring tracks from David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Underworld, the CD release of the soundtrack was so successful they put out another disk – and it was just as good.
Soundtrack highlight: A three-way tie: the energetic intro scene featuring ‘Lust For Life’, Ewan McGregor OD’ing to ‘Perfect Day’ and Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ closing out the film.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
We all know Quentin Tarantino is the king of pop culture references, edgy dialogue and gore, but his impossibly good taste in music often gets overlooked. Featuring songs from Al Green (‘Let’s Stay Together’), Kool and the Gang (‘Jungle Boogie’) and Dusty Springfield (‘Son Of A Preacher Man’), not to mention Urge Overkill’s inspired cover of Neil Diamond’s ‘Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon’, _Pulp Fiction_’s soundtrack is as effortlessly cool as the film itself.
Soundtrack highlight: John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing to Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’.
The Social Network (2010)
Who thought Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails would actually win an Oscar? But he deserves it for this brooding and ambient work – co-composed with Atticus Ross – that complemented the uneasy pace and tone of the film. The real genius of their score (and the script by Aaron Sorkin) is that it elevated a boring story about a bunch of geeks starting a website into a gripping film.
Soundtrack highlight: If you can pick a highlight out of a minimalist piano score, you’re doing one better than us.
The soundtrack to 2011’s Drive heavily featured Cliff Martinez – former guitarist for the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Captain Beefheart – who has now turned his attention to composing scores. His pulsating electro-pop aesthetic translated perfectly to the stretches of the film where heartthrob Ryan Gosling was on the road, escalating in intensity where the scene needed it to. The soundtrack also features a few great songs from the likes of Kavinsky, Chromatics and Desire, particularly ‘Under Your Spell’.
Soundtrack highlight: The infamous elevator scene featuring Brian Eno’s ambient ‘An Ending (Ascent)’.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Between Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music’, Butthole Surfers’ ‘Whatever (I Had a Dream)’ and Everclear’s ‘Local God’ nothing said “mid-’90s” quite like this soundtrack. Plus who would’ve thought that Garbage’s ‘#1 Crush’ could ever appear in a story written by Shakespeare? Or ‘Lovefool’ by The Cardigans, which became a hit single thanks to the film.
Soundtrack highlight: For the romantics: Des’ree’s ‘I’m Kissing You’ in the “fishtank scene”.
Judgement Night (1993)
The beginning of rap-rock for (better or worse), with every song on the soundtrack coupling a rock act with a hip-hop artist. There was the improbable Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul collaboration ‘Fallin’, Faith No Moreteaming up with Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. for ‘Another Body Murdered’, Helmet and House of Pain doing ‘Just Another Victim’ (yes, they had songs other than ‘Jump Around’). The film itself is pretty unmemorable – it starred Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr and Denis Leary as a bunch of mates who end up in the wrong part of town – but the soundtrack will stand the test of time.
Soundtrack highlight: The title track featuring Biohazard and Onyx nails the film’s gritty urban vibe.
Almost Famous (2000)
Like Tarantino, Cameron Crowe is another director that knows just when to drop the perfect song at the perfect time in one of his films (see: the “boombox scene” in Say Anything, or Tom Cruise belting out ‘Free Falling’ in Jerry Maguire). Almost Famous, which tells the (somewhat embellished) story of his early years as a Rolling Stone contributor, is like a nostalgia trip back into Crowe’s past – from The Beach Boys to Simon & Garfunkel, Yes to The Who. Even the songs by the film’s fictitious band Stillwater sound like they were writing four decades ago.
Soundtrack highlight: An entire tour bus belting out Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’.
Another Cameron Crowe special. A movie about six people looking for love in Seattle, Singles helped spread the city’s nascent grunge scene to a national audience before it exploded into the mainstream via Nirvana. The film features some of the scene’s biggest names (Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney and Soundgarden), a Chris Cornell solo track recorded on a four-track in his cupboard and some of Paul Westerberg’s better post-Replacements output (‘Waiting For Somebody’, ‘Dyslexic Heart’). Though uncredited, there’s a snippet of Jane’s Addiction’s ‘Three Days’ when Bridget Fonda opens a fridge.
Soundtrack highlight: The first airing of Soundgarden’s Spoonman two years before its release.
Starring Chris Tucker and Ice Cube, stoner comedy Friday was released just as the West Coast hip-hop movement was hitting its peak. As a result the film is soundtracked by California’s finest, with contributions from Cypress Hill, Dr Dre, Mack 10 and Cube himself, providing its title track. Amid all the rap was the inclusion of some smoother jams from the likes of Rick James and Bootsy Collins.
Soundtrack highlight: Hands down: Ice Cube and Chris Tucker rolling a fat one to the smooth stylings of Rick James’ ‘Mary Jane’.
Forrest Gump (1994)
An epic film with a suitably epic soundtrack. Thirty-two tracks with not one original song (bar the opening suite) among them, Forrest Gump’s score featured all the ‘60 to ‘70s big guns: Aretha Franklin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beach Boys, Elvis. Much like the film itself, the list just goes on, and on, and on.
Soundtrack highlight: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’ as Forrest lands in Vietnam.