The Royal Tenenbaums (2002) - Sometimes life falls perfectly in time with art. Wes Anderson’s insta-classic The Royal Tenenbaums was released during my formative first year of high school, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The movie’s artful melancholy was just what I needed to soothe my angsty soul. Beyond the film’s timely release, the soundtrack dropped just as my musical tastes had evolved past FM Radio. It was the perfect starter kit to Rock and Roll: The Clash, Nico, Paul Simon, Rolling Stones, Elliott Smith… So many big names, all of which were effortlessly woven into the Tenenbaums‘ score. The soundtrack even introduced me to orchestral music that was unique and provocative, unlike what I’d previously heard at mandatory school concerts. Hearing the first few wistful chords of Nico’s “These Days” (or watching its corresponding feature in the movie) will always tug my heartstrings just as it did back in ’02.
Into the Wild (2007)- I have to say, this was a first for me, the first time that I sought out a movie because of its soundtrack. The allure of a folky Eddie Vedder singing about society and escape was just too strong. Well, the soundtrack did not disappoint and the movie was phenomenal. Kind of a win-win (win) situation. EV’s lush voice, acoustic guitars and mandolins, set a perfect tone for Alexander Supertramp’s release from conventional society into the wild. Key tracks include but are not limited to: “Setting Forth”, “Guaranteed”, “Society” and a tune that is on 92% of my running playlists, “Rise.” Oh yeah, “Hard Sun” was on the radio a couple of times…
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)- The quintessential ’90s high school movie was full of quintessential ’90s songs that set the backdrop for Seth Green’s goofy antics and Ethan Embry and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s love story. From Third Eye Blind’s “Graduate” to Blink-182′s “Dammit,” the Can’t Hardly Wait soundtrack is the perfect playlist to pop into your walkman on the way to your next high school reunion.
The Big Chill (1983)- The movie was defined as much by its soundtrack as it was by the performance of the ensemble cast of Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Meg Tilly, Mary Kay Place, and JoBeth Williams. The movie opens at the funeral that reunites all of the main characters during which Williams’ character plays the Rolling Stones classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the church organ, and from there it’s just hit after hit. Other highlights on the classic soundtrack include Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” from the Temptations, “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, and many more.
Godzilla (1998)- Here’s an example of a movie that was totally outshined by its soundtrack. The 1998 film starring Matthew Broderick was supposed to be a major summer blockbuster, but instead turned into a critical flop. The soundtrack though boasted some of the most promising names in rock ‘n roll in the late ’90s, with songs from Rage Against the Machine, Green Day, Silverchair, The Wallflowers, Jamiroquai, and Ben Folds Five.
Singles (1992)- The soundtrack to this Cameron Crowe flick was a who’s who of the early ’90s grunge scene. You’ve got all the heavy hitters like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, and the Screaming Trees and not to mention some legends like Jimi Hendrix, Paul Westerberg, and the Wilson sisters (Ann and Nancy that is) mixed in as well. With the movie set against the backdrop of grunge era Seattle the soundtrack just had to be great and it certainly did not disappoint. Hell, half those bands made cameos in the movie too so what’s not to like here?
Easy Rider (1969) - Songs written by Steppenwolf, The Band, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Carole King, and more, provided the perfect soundtrack to one of the era’s defining films. Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson all turn in tremendous performances as two hippies and a drunk trekking across the Southern United States on motorcycles, while the soundtrack meshes perfectly to both the plot and the beautiful imagery throughout the film. If you haven’t seen this cult classic do yourself a favor and get to the closest Blockbuster right now…But seriously, twist up a fatty, get on your Netflix game, and hold onto your butts.