Let me clearly state what it is exactly that I’m ranking. Not the best score…or the best record to listen to that is considered a soundtrack. What I’m looking for is the use of music within a film that changed/added to the overall quality of the picture. The score will be included in the ranking if it appears on the album…however, lone score soundtracks will not count (see Star Wars). With this said, allow me to count down.
10.) O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
The music adds so much to this grey and honey yellow landscape, allowing the viewers to tap their toes to the slide guitars and folk upbeat swing that populates this soundtrack. Man of Constant sorrow is right up there with the best single tracks in a film and with the likes of Alison Krauss, how could the Cohen brothers go wrong?
9.) High Noon(1952)
Ok, shoot me (no pun there), there is only one real song on the soundtrack, but it’s so damn good I had to include it on the list. Tex Ritter’s “Do Not Forsake Me O My Darling” plays throughout and never gets old, rather builds into something more then a tonal backdrop, it becomes part of Gary Cooper, who he is and what he has to do to survive.
8.) Aladdin (1992)
Fun soundtrack…my favorite Disney film…the song “One Jump Ahead” has been stuck in my head for fifteen years, so they get points for that. If you didn’t have fun listening to the songs from this film, ask yourself…do I have a soul?
7. American Graffiti (1973)
Billy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Flamingos, Buster Brown, and The Crests featured in a film about driving in cool cars and listening to equally cool music…enough for me.
6.) The Graduate (1967)
Surprise, surprise. Another soundtrack list with The Graduate featured. Well, I’m sorry, it’s great. “Sounds of Silence” gets me every time and half of the film was cut montages dictated by S & G’s originals. When the music seems to act as script pages, moving the story forward, that’s always impressive.
5.) Apocalypse Now (1979)
Watch the opening sequence then argue with me. If you’ve seen that jungle, ceiling fan, and Sheen’s face over top “The End”, you know what I’m talking about. Plus, Coppola had access to all The Doors masters and has a lot of the F Bombs never before heard on any of their albums due to the record companies decisions.
4.) Magnolia (1999)
This will be the most controversial of all my picks. It’s hard to pick this over Boogie Nights (another P.T. Anderson soundtrack classic) and that scene with everyone singing the same song seems to irk some people. Not me. I love Aimee Mann on this soundtrack. “Wise Up” (now everywhere on TV) was an excellent set piece for the film and “Momentum” is underrated. This is just one of those personal favorites that appears in list, but I’m man enough to point that out. Jon Brion makes an appearance as well, and he is the indie Phillip Glass…so there you have it.
3.) Blue Velvet (1986)
Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” contributes to what I consider the greatest musical scene in the history of cinema. If that’s not enough for you, the actual song Blue Velvet is beautiful on top of beautiful, and Angelo Badalamenti created sounds to attach to the lurking evil underbelly that hides behind all of Lynch’s films.
2.) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
This is not just my Wes Anderson fandom getting in the way here…this is a masterpiece. Suicide to Elliot Smith, Nico in slow motion, The Clash, ice cream store playing Peanuts music, Bob Dylan, go carts and Paul Simon, The Velvet Underground, NICK DRAKE (My favorite), and the best work by Mark Mothersbaugh to date. That is my case, take it or leave it.
1.) The Harder They Come (1972)
Jimmy Cliff plays a musician recording an album. This album is the soundtrack we hear. This is one side story to the film but the music that follows is perfection. The scene where Cliff records the title track, displays his love for music and more importantly the power of music. I agree with Cusak in High Fidelity, at my funeral I want Many Rivers to Cross to be played and if you’ve heard the song, you know why. I recommend everyone see the film, buy the soundtrack, and embrace the greatest marriage of song and moving frame of all time.