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04.28.2017by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of All Time

This weekend heralds the international release of James Gunn's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2. Like the first film, this Marvel Studios effort is anchored by a retro soundtrack of songs that tell a tale without needing any visual assistance. Like many great soundtracks, Gunn has assembled a perfect supporting mixtape for his film. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the ten best soundtracks of all time. Remember, we aren't talking scores here but true soundtracks compiled from original and existing music that help the viewer relate to the story on screen with auditory enhancement. If you disagree with our picks, let us know your favorite soundtracks in the talk backs below.

#10 - SINGLES

While Cameron Crowe has several other films with notable soundtracks (ALMOST FAMOUS, SAY ANYTHING, VANILLA SKY), it was his 1992 feature about grungy Generation Xers that defined the music of the decade. Featuring tracks by Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, the SINGLES soundtrack was a definitive disc for college students and high schoolers trying to find their niche in a changing musical landscape.

#9 - HIGH FIDELITY

A film about music snobs required a soundtrack comprised of tunes that John Cusack's character would have found acceptable. Cusack listened to over 2000 tracks to select the 70 songs heard in the film, but the tracks that made the official soundtrack stem from a wide array of bands including Elvis Costello, Stereolab, Stevie Wonder, and The Beta Band. The movie also includes a performance by co-star Jack Black that just helps sell the entire compilation.

#8 - SUPERFLY

Like the music featured in blaxsploitation films like THE HARDER THEY COME and SHAFT, SUPERFLY is partially defined by the soundtrack and vice versa. Curtis Mayfield's iconic album functions both as a standalone musical experience as much as it compliments the Gordon Parks movie. This is a soundtrack that almost defies categorization and yet ranks as a worthy entry on this list.

#7 - O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

In 2001, the Coen Brothers were already a household name thanks to FARGO and THE BIG LEBOWSKI, but their unique take on the legendary The Odyssey brought the production talents of T Bone Burnett to the mainstream while also introducing audiences and listeners to genres as varied as bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk. Few films have soundtracks as instantly recognizable as O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? and the few that do rarely remain as popular decades after their release as this album.

#6 - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

James Gunn's film is defined partially by the soundtrack that launched a resurgence in mixtapes. Anchoring the development of Chris Pratt's character based on the music selected by his dying mother, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY took anachronistic music that worked perfectly for the STAR WARS-inspired space opera. If this soundtrack succeeded in anything it was introducing millennials to some of the lesser known hits of the 1970s.

#5 - TRAINSPOTTING

Danny Boyle's movie holds a special place in my heart. While the movie helped usher in my love of independent cinema, the soundtrack helped introduce me to a lot of music I had been unfamiliar with in my teen years. TRAINSPOTTING relies on a lot of different types of music including tracks by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Blur, Elastica and Brian Eno. Comprised predominantly by bands big in the UK, the TRAINSPOTTING soundtrack opened a lot of musical barriers for North American fans.

#4 - BOOGIE NIGHTS

Paul Thomas Anderson has some damn fine soundtracks to his films. From the eerie scores of Jon Brion and Jonny Greenwood to the talents of songstress Aimee Mann, Anderson's movies tend to rely on original songs. But, BOOGIE NIGHTS is a movie that is rooted in the retro sounds of an era and to evoke that, Anderson compiled two soundtracks worth of hits and lesser known tracks that help chronicle the lives of the various ensemble cast. From The Beach Boys to Night Ranger, BOOGIE NIGHTS will definitely get you dancing.

#3 - PURPLE RAIN

When you think of singers who have starred in their own movies, that usually includes Eminem, Madonna, and several others. But, few singers have released films as instantly iconic as Prince's PURPLE RAIN. A film that is as enigmatic as the actor himself deserves a soundtrack as immortal. PURPLE RAIN works as both a concept album as well as an accompaniment to the film. To this day, when you think of Prince, your first thought is probably of this movie and this soundtrack which are virtually interchangeable.

#2 - THE BLUES BROTHERS

As a fan of comedy, Chicago, and the blues, this movie means a lot to me. A musical adventure, THE BLUES BROTHERS represents John Landis at his best along with some of the most iconic musicians of all time. Featuring music by James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker, THE BLUES BROTHERS is a definitive film in multiple genres including comedy and musicals.

#1 - PULP FICTION

Quentin Tarantino's fondness for compiling music from his personal collection has led to some truly awesome soundtracks. From RESERVOIR DOGS to JACKIE BROWN, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS to KILL BILL, DEATH PROOF to THE HATEFUL EIGHT, there have been almost no weak selections from the acclaimed filmmaker. But, the 1994 release of PULP FICTION not only ushered in Tarantino as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time but also gave us a soundtrack for the ages. From "Misirlou" to "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon", the PULP FICTION sountrack is a definitive collection of songs for those who recall those tracks in their heydey to young fans exploring their musical boundaries.

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