What makes a great film? In addition to a solid story and compelling characters, its soundtrack has the unique ability to either enhance or detract from the story. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at the very best, most iconic movie soundtracks… starting with this standout. The carefully curated soundtrack the Charlie Kaufman sci-fi romance "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is just one of many reasons this film is worth revisiting. The original score by acclaimed composer Jon Brion, coupled with a stellar soundtrack that includes songs like Don Nelson's "Some Kinda Shuffle," The Willlowz's "Something" and of course, Beck's cover of "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime," make an already exceptional film even more emotionally resonant. Keep reading for more…
While many of us remember "Garden State" for its great storytelling and stellar performances, it's the movie's soundtrack that has, perhaps, left the most lasting legacy. Featuring songs by The Shins, Coldplay, Simon & Garfunkel and more, it was curated entirely by actor-director Zach Braff, who won a Grammy for best compilation soundtrack for his work.
While the iconic characters, great fashion and quotable phrases are often what come to mind when we think of this 1995 romantic comedy, its soundtrack deserves more praise than it gets. The music of "Clueless" serves as an eclectic time capsule of the first half of the decade thanks to tracks like "Kids In America" by The Muffs, "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead, "Change" by The Lightning Seeds and "Rollin' With My Homies" by Coolio really setting the tone. A perfect representation of a post-Nirvana era, the "Clueless" soundtrack is a delight to come back to.
RELATED: "Clueless" cast: Where are they now?
Fans of '70s music, look no further — the "Guardians of the Galaxy" soundtrack has got you covered. The 10th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which debuted in 2014, boasts an impressive array of memorable tracks like "Go All the Way" by the Raspberries, "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie, "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways and, of course, "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 — but those are just a few of the oldies that are blasted throughout the film. "Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol.1" stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard chart for 11 straight weeks and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It's also the second bestselling album of 2014.
Who doesn't love a little bluegrass? The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack used bluegrass, country, gospel, blues and folk music to create the perfect album. The 2000 soundtrack, which features the bestselling song "Man of Constant Sorrow," was certified eight-times platinum.
The "Trainspotting" soundtrack is flawless. It had such a massive fanbase when it came out in 1996 that label execs released a second soundtrack the following year due to high demand. The original features hits like "Lust for Life" by Iggy Pop and "Temptation" by New Order, leading to its three-times platinum certification.
John Carney's indie drama "Once" features an unforgettable soundtrack. Written almost entirely by the film's star, Glen Hansard, it serves the beautiful, poignant function of enhancing the love story between an amateur street musician and the soft-spoken woman he meets by happenstance. The film's most notable track, "Falling Slowly," which was recorded by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, earned the 2008 Academy Award for best original song.
What would "Shaft" be without that legendary soundtrack? The 1971 album, which was recorded by "South Park" star Isaac Hayes, featured the No. 1 single "Theme from Shaft." Isaac went on to earn two Grammys and an Academy Award for the album.
"Stayin' alive! Stayin' alive!" We honestly can't get enough of the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack. Released in 1977, the album was recorded by the pop music group the Bee Gees and featured hit singles like "How Deep is Your Love" and "Stayin' Alive." It's the second best selling soundtrack of all time, with more than 40 million copies sold, and is certified 16-times platinum.
Bill Murray's cringe-worthy but moving rendition of "More Than This" by Roxy Music is just one example of how music is used to enhance the melancholic undertones of Sofia Coppola's 2003 drama "Lost in Translation." The soundtrack highlights the bittersweet feel of the film — subtle but felt, the use of songs like "Sometime" by My Bloody Valentine and "Just Like Honey" by The Jesus and Mary Chain add depth to an already poignant story.
"The Bodyguard" soundtrack literally defined the '90s. The 1992 album featured the hit Whitney Houston single "I Will Always Love You," which charted at No. 1 in a whopping 23 countries, and her top-five single "I'm Every Woman." The 18-times platinum album is the best selling soundtrack album of all time, with 45 million copies sold worldwide, and the fifth best selling album of all time.
Prince's "Purple Rain" soundtrack is arguably more famous than the film in which it was featured. The 13-times platinum 1984 album, which featured hit singles "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy" and Prince's signature No. 1 song "Purple Rain," has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, making it the third-bestselling soundtrack album of all time. Prince also won a Grammy and an Oscar for the standout soundtrack.
Admittedly or not, we've all jammed out to a "High School Musical" song at one point or another! The film that launched the careers of stars like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens also set a record as the most commercially successful Disney Channel Original Movie. With original songs like "Start of Something New," "What I've Been Looking For" and the iconic Troyella duet "Breaking Free," the first installment of the "HSM" franchise is filled with memorable tracks. The film's soundtrack was a major success — it was the bestselling album of 2006 and sold 7 million copies worldwide.
A huge part of the success of "Dirty Dancing" success was the movie's unbelievably great soundtrack. The 1987 album, which featured the Grammy- and Oscar-winning single "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and the hit Patrick Swayze track "She's Like The Wind," spent 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack went on to sell 32 million copies worldwide and become one of the best selling albums of all time.
The "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack is amazing thanks to its untraditional curation. In addition to nine songs from the Quentin Tarantino film, it also features four tracks of dialogue snippets followed by a song, plus three tracks of dialogue alone. "Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction" features songs from Kool & Gang, Al Green and Urge Overkill, among others, and reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200.
What sets "Mulan" apart from other Disney films is the fact that the title character is more than a princess — she's a hero. The 1998 film's soundtrack was an embodiment of the time — while popular boy band 98 Degrees and the legendary Stevie Wonder contributed the track "True to Your Heart," it was Christina Aguilera's rendition of "Reflection" that stole the show. The "Mulan" soundtrack peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart and was nominated for best original musical or comedy score at the Academy Awards.
The "Super Fly" soundtrack is one of the most impactful albums to come out of the 1970s. The best selling singles "Freddie's Dead" and the title track helped to propel the 1972 funk album, which was recorded by Curtis Mayfield, to the top of charts. "Super Fly" is also celebrated for its socially conscious lyrics about poverty and drug abuse.
The "Rushmore" soundtrack has a compilation of songs that perfectly describe the teen angst in the Wes Anderson-directed film. The Who, Cat Stevens, The Kinks and John Lennon are all featured on the 1998 soundtrack, which has been lauded for its originality and indie sentiments.
Quentin Tarantino pulled off not one but two phenomenal soundtracks with "Kill Bill" Volume 1″ and "Kill Bill: Volume 2." The first film's soundtrack, which was produced and orchestrated by RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, featured songs from Charlie Feathers, Isaac Hayes and Nancy Sinatra. The second film's soundtrack continued the bold filmmaker's penchant for combining genres and included songs from country stars like Johnny Cash and Italian composers like Ennio Morricone. All together, the soundtracks become one piece of amazing art.
Who didn't purchase at least one pack of Pokémon cards growing up? "Pokémon: The First Movie" hit theaters in 1999 and was a commercial success — it's considered the highest grossing anime film in the States and the fourth highest grossing animated film based on a TV show worldwide. The film's soundtrack, which went two-times platinum in America, was comprised of hits by famous pop stars and boy bands of the time like Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, B*Witched, Vitamin C, Aaron Carter and 98 Degrees. The album released just one single: "Don't Say You Love Me" by the Norwegian pop duo M2M.
The "Pretty In Pink" soundtrack provided the perfect blend of new wave hits, post-punk sounds and '80s pop songs. The 1986 album featured the chart-topping single "If You Leave" by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, plus, notably, Suzanne Vega and Joe Jackson's "Left of Center," New Order's "Shellshock" and, of course, the title track by The Psychedelic Furs.
One of the more recent soundtracks on our list, the music from 2018's "Black Panther," is a powerful work of art from start to finish. The entire album was produced and recorded by Kendrick Lamar with added vocals from SZA, Travis Scott, Jay Rock, The Weeknd and other major hip-hop and R&B artists. The Grammy- and Oscar-winning project, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, also featured an African-inspired score from Ludwig Göransson.
"Dazed and Confused" might have been released in 1993, but the film's soundtrack features songs almost exclusively from the 1970s that reflect the movie's 1976 setting. Top '70s rock bands like The Runaways, Sweet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath and KISS are all present on the album, giving the listener a well-curated musical trip down memory lane.
The year was 1996 and a pre-"Titanic" Leonardo DiCaprio and a post "My So-Called Life" Claire Danes joined forces to star in Baz Luhrmann's version of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy "Romeo + Juliet." While its modern retelling of the classic tale is reason enough to render this film a contemporary classic, its soundtrack also deserves recognition. While songs like Des'ree's "Kissing You" and the Cardigans' "Lovefool" might feel like a mismatch musically, they expertly enhanced the melodramatic romance between the film's titular teens. The "Romeo + Juliet" soundtrack hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and went three-times platinum in the United States.
Honestly, you could include the "A Star is Born" soundtracks from all four versions of the film, but we're going to highlight the 2018 remake's soundtrack album, thanks in large part to Lady Gaga. The soundtrack, which was recorded and written primarily by Gaga, features the hit single "Shallow," which earned the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and the Critics' Choice Award for best song. The "A Star is Born" soundtrack topped the charts in more than 15 countries, attaining gold and platinum certifications in many of them, while selling more than six million copies worldwide.
"The Graduate" soundtrack is a love letter to some of the most memorable and amazing Simon & Garfunkel songs ever recorded. The 1968 album featured the acclaimed single "Mrs. Robinson," which peaked at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart and in the top 10 in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain, plus hit songs like "The Sound of Silence" and "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine." Love!
The "Boogie Nights" soundtrack provides a snapshot into the talented musical world of the late '70s. The 1997 album spans multiple genres with R&B-funk hits like "Best of My Love" by The Emotions and "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate as well as folk songs like "Brand New Key" by Melanie. It's a groovy musical masterpiece.
Now for an album that truly needs no introduction. "A Hard Day's Night" features some of the very best Beatles song that have ever been released including "Can't Buy Me Love," "And I Love Her," "If I Fell" and the title track. Released in 1964 during the height of Beatlemania, "A Hard Day's Night" was written entirely by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
John Cusack and his screenwriting partners listened to more than 2,000 songs as they were deciding what to include on the "High Fidelity" soundtrack. All that hard work paid off, because the 2000 album is one of the best yet. Featuring songs from Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Goldie, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and more, "High Fidelity" is a musical masterpiece with something for everyone.
The "Love and Basketball" soundtrack features some of the most soulful and beautiful R&B songs as well as some fun rap tracks that any hip-hop head will appreciate. The 2000 album, which contains tracks by Chaka Khan, Zapp & Roger, Maxwell, MC Lyte and Al Green, peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 chart, No. 15 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 9 on the Top Soundtracks charts. It's the perfect soundtrack for your love story.