Soul-Searching Soundtrack — Garden State
“You gotta hear this one song, it’ll change your life I promise you,” said Natalie Portman’s character in Zach Braff’s exceptional film, Garden State. Not only did Braff write, star in and direct the film, but he also executive produced the indie-perfect soundtrack. The musical choices are much like the film itself; mellow and sincere without hollow happy endings and predictable tug-at-your-heart-strings ballads. Artists like The Shins, Iron and Wine and Frou Frou contribute songs about finding home, love and yourself. You gotta hear this soundtrack. It’ll be a favorite, I promise you.
Not too Watered down — Pecker
John Waters is the King of Kitsch, Camp and all varieties of Cheese Wiz. With titles on Pecker’s soundtrack including “Don’t Drop the Soap (For Anyone Else but Me),” other John Waters labels, such as “avant-sleaze,” are well-deserved. All this Waters cops as style, and he teams up with former Police drummer Stewart Copeland to create one of the nuttiest soundtracks ever, featuring songs with squirrel and hen choirs.
The Quintessential ’80s Cheese — Flashdance
Flashdance is one of those films that really tugs at the heart strings with a humbling story of a girl who is a wielder by day and a dancer by night. The soundtrack has instantly recognizable tunes such as “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” and “Maniac.” The soundtrack is loaded with pure unapologetic synth-pop. While the film’s trademark sweater has gone out of fashion, its soundtrack will live on as a guilty pleasure.
Saving the world from destruction by meteors with rock athems — Armageddon
Someone should have put a stop to the nepotism going on in the film Armageddon. Liv Tyler did a mediocre job playing the beautiful love interest of Ben Affleck in the film; however, dear old dad may not have been the best choice for the soundtrack. Aerosmith contributes four songs, including the radio hit “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and a cover of the Beatles “Come Together.” Other artists include Journey, Our Lady Peace and Jon Bon Jovi. Sometimes father just doesn’t know best.
Best soundtrack to a romantic comedy featuring a member of the Wu-Tang Clan — Brown Sugar
For a When Harry Meet Sally copycat, Brown Sugar boasts an impressive hip-hop heavy soundtrack. Mos Def does double duty by acting in the film and contributing four tracks, including the title song with Black Star partner Talib Kweli. The soundtrack gives a nod to pioneers Eric B. and Rakim with the seven-minute coldcut remix of “Paid in Full.” The recurrent theme of the film is the question “When did you first fall in love with hip hop?” Erykah Badu, Common, The Roots and Mary J. Blige add to this soundtrack, which is good enough to make you fall in love with hip hop all over again.
A Clockwork Orange never looked so strange
As a controversial film filled with ethical questions, another striking feature in A Clockwork Orange is its eerie otherworldliness, actualized, in part, by its music. Once known as Walter Carlos, composer and synthesist Wendy Carlos also did the soundtracks for Tron and The Shining, which helped to popularize the Moog synthesizer. Some compositions are original, such as A Clockwork Orange’s title music, and another that’s an effective rendition of Beethoven’s ninth symphony.
A dish best served with pocket protectors — Revenge of the Nerds
This movie is considered the best young-adult ’80s comedy by loyal fans, and there are plenty of loyal fans. Most of the film’s memorable scenes are accompanied by authentically generic ’80s songs. They include Bone Symphony’s “One Foot In Front of the Other,” played when the nerds renovate their frat house, Gleaming Spires’ “Are You Ready for the Sex Girls” when the Omega Moos crash the party and, of course, The Rubinoos’ title song, “Revenge of the Nerds.”
Soundtrack that most makes you want to dance…dirty
Any child of the ’80s who hears the first line to the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” instantly pictures Jennifer Gray twirling around on stage in a flowing pink dress with a pre-mullet Patrick Swayze. Dirty Dancing is full of songs that are permanently linked to the film. Swayze gets in on the action, singing “She’s Like the Wind.” The soundtrack includes danceable ditties like “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and “Wipeout” by The Surfaris. If you feel like doing the mambo, this soundtrack will certainly give you “the lift” you need.
A one-man show — I Heart Huckabees
Jon Brion has scored some of the last decade’s best films such as Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But, I Heart Huckabees ranks as his best work to date. The soundtrack’s standout tracks include “Didn’t Think It Would Turn Out Bad,” “Knock Yourself Out” and “Revolving Door.” While I Heart Huckabees fizzled at the box office, it has the distinct honor of being set to the year’s best score.
The get-out-the-three-piece-suit-and-boogie soundtrack — Saturday Night Fever
Everyone’s done it. There’s not a single person who hasn’t sang along with “Stayin’ Alive” and resisted grooving along mimicking John Travolta’s trademark moves. The key element that makes the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack standout is the Bee Gees. The soundtrack has many of the Bee Gees classics from “How Deep is Your Love” to “Night Fever.” This is the perfect collection of songs for shaking your money-maker.
The good, the bad, the spaghetti westerns scored by Ennio Morricone
This guy is the Michael Jordan of movie composers. His work with Sergio Leone by itself is enough to merit an honorary Oscar, especially in the film Once Upon A Time in the West. His resume could double as a bible for spaghetti westerns; however, his work extends to mainstream Hollywood pictures as well, including his work on Brian De Palma’s Untouchables.