The right soundtrack can transform a good movie into a great one. Certain soundtracks can make a movie feel infinitely more personal, while also giving the viewer a way to continue feeling the movie’s effects by listening to the soundtrack long after finishing it.
Some soundtracks have become synonymous with the movie, like Simon and Garfunkel’s music with “The Graduate,” while other soundtracks fit with a movie so seamlessly that they are overlooked by most viewers. Cinema soundtracks can completely transform the emotions felt during the most important scenes in the the most popular movies of all time. Here’s major films with soundtracks that deserve a second listen.
“20th Century Women”
Mike Mills’ coming-of-age film features a soundtrack that encapsulates the nostalgia of the trouble and excitement that is adolescence. With songs like The Talking Heads’ “The Big Country” and “Why Can’t I Touch It?” by Buzzcocks, the viewer is transported into the hazy new wave and punk rock sensibilities of the late 1970s.
These songs fit perfectly with the laid-back days of ‘70s suburbia, while also complementing the punk rock scene the characters discover. This soundtrack is woven so intricately with key moments in the film that, rather than making the songs stand out, it turns these scenes into an authentic and relatable experience.
“Dirty Dancing” wouldn’t be the same without its iconic accompanying soundtrack — the bouncy snare of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and the melodrama of Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” perfectly capture the heady summer heat and the swooning romance of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. And, of course, it’s impossible to talk about this movie without the sweeping finale sequence, complete with acrobatics and the soaring “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
“Call Me By Your Name”
The soundtrack to this 2018 film perfectly complements the feelings of summer romance and heartbreak. Sufjan Stevens created two new songs for the film, “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon,” and offered another song from a previous album. Stevens’ melancholic yet endearing music supports the highs and lows of the relationship. Along with Stevens’ music, “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs is emblematic of the time period, representing the synth-pop filled mid-’80s.
This fast-paced film from 2017 combines rock, funk, soul and more to serve as the guiding force for the chaotic driving scenes in this movie. The action never stops when propulsed by heart-racing throwbacks like “Brighton Rock” by Queen.
The main character’s ever-present earbuds allow for the soundtrack to flow perfectly throughout the quick, sharp editing of the film. “Baby Driver’s” use of the Simon and Garfunkel song of the same name adds a timeless essence that brings the film full circle.
“Easy A’s” soundtrack includes some of the most popular pop songs of the past decade, creating a soundtrack that can completely stand by itself. The film’s focus on the high school drama of relationships and partying works perfectly with songs cherished by mid-2000s teens.
Songs like “Sexy Silk” by Jessie J creates the perfect mood for the main character’s badass “owning it” moment walking through her high school campus. The sheer popularity of the songs used in this film make the experience of watching this film that much more exciting and entertaining.