A good soundtrack can make a bad film seem great. A good soundtrack is there to clog holes in a leaky ship. I know we do not like to think of it that way but it is sort of true. When I saw the movie Drive, I was blown away. I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen. Then I showed it to a girl I was dating and she looked at me like I was trying to convince her to vote for Trump. I had to take a step back and re-watch it when she left. She was right and it didn’t take me long to realize it. I had really only liked The Chromatics. Actually, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Plenty of amazing movies also have ridiculous soundtracks. As a matter of fact, here is a list of great movies with equally great soundtracks that you should hear, today.
1. It Follows (2016)
Stream this soundtrack while literally doing anything and it automatically becomes menacing. Is your grandmother sick in the hospital? Head over and spoon-feed her some Jell-O while listening to this album. Then stop, unplug your headphones, and do the same thing while it plays on your speaker and see what the nurse says when she walks in, you sick weirdo. Are you standing in a train car with forty empty seats? Put it on speaker, again, and see what kind of looks you get from the other three people on the train. Buying groceries? You already know, fam! Speakers engaged. Ayoo, what up, Dexter!
2. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)
Yeah, so, this one is kind of an easy pick. The stars of the film are The Ramones. The soundtrack is mostly their music, plus: Alice Cooper, Brian Eno, Chuck Berry, and Devo. The soundtrack is rad. The film is a cult classic. Watch this film, get tired of it, go to Rockaway Beach, burn your data streaming the soundtrack on your phone, get drunk, get on the train, go to bed.
3. Marie Antoinette (2006)
Oh damn, Sofia Coppola’s decadent attempt to tell the story of the infamously sybaritic Marie Antoinette is fire. Beyond the films incredible cinematography and mythological tale, the soundtrack cements this film as a classic, cult or otherwise. With an incredible collection of bands: Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order, and the Cure, this soundtrack will long remain a favorite amongst people with rich musical palates.
4. Rushmore (1999)
Yeah, Wes Anderson films always have excellent soundtracks. While it doesn’t hurt to have Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo as your composer, no one can pretend Anderson is not without musical taste. Every song he picks seems to have been made just for the scene he uses it in. The montage of Max Fischer’s extracurricular activities while “Making Time,” from The Creation plays is one of my favorite moments and cemented this film’s soundtrack in my brains, for good. Rushmore played no small part in bringing bands like The Faces and The Kinks, back to the surface.
5. Hackers (1995)
I don’t know why I love this movie, so much. Nostalgia? I suppose. Maybe I just miss people being on roller blades still having the ability to appear cool. I saw a guy roller blade into a store the other day, take the first one of his foot while standing and flip it up in the air, while casually sneaking a lil’ baby peak around to see if anyone was impressed before catching it and repeating the process, with the other. I felt a shudder go through the souls of everyone in the store as we all cringed for him, together. Wait, anyway, the soundtrack is amazing. Like having a conversation with your parents where money is never mentioned, kind of amazing. With names like Prodigy, Orbital, and Stereo MCs, the 90’s rolls through your bones like taco bell through something else.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of those movies you never think to watch until you get dumped. Once cast out back into society, you find yourself watching it over and over. Asking yourself questions like, “I wonder if we have the memory erasing technology in real life?” I don’t think we do but at least you have this soundtrack.
7. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Another one from Wes Anderson, Royal Tenenbaums, comes complete with one of the best soundtracks ever compiled, once again, with the help of Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo. Richie’s attempted suicide while Elliot Smith’s “Needle in the Hay,” plays in the background is one of the darker scenes in the Wes Anderson catalog.
8. Trainspotting (1996)
I mean if you have not seen this movie, we need to work on our friendship. Trainspotting is probably the greatest movie about junkies ever made. It also convinced me to never try heroin. Ewan McGregor swimming in the worst toilet in Scotland to retrieve his dope is the funniest portrayal of hell ever put to film. Trainspotting’s soundtrack helped put Iggy Pop back on the map and for that, we are thankful.
9. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
The film that killed one of the best shows ever made, “My So-Called Life,” when Claire Danes decided to do this movie instead of continuing the show. It turned out to be the right choice. Baz Luhrmann’s, Romeo + Juliet turned out to be an enduring cult classic with an iconic soundtrack, to boot.
Has anyone seen this movie? Fuck, it is good. Think Footloose with drugs, junior high school, shitty parents, Rock n’ Roll, jerk off cops, and the inertia of Middle America. A film I caught by chance a million and two years ago when I still had a television and a desire not to disappoint. Settle into 1970’s suburban American with acts like Cheap Trick, Jimi Hendrix, The Ramones, and Valerie Carter.
Article by Timothy White. You can follow him on Twitter @TipToTheHip.