Movies offer an incredibly rich landscape to getaway.
From the cinematography, story, and acting, everything comes together to transport the viewer to another realm (or a galaxy far, far away.)
Movie soundtracks bring on new layers of emotion. In some ways, music in films play a significant role in portraying the undercurrents of a film’s story and hint the audience on how to feel.
If you are a movie buff or audiophile, you may love to stroll along memory lane and remember the movie soundtracks that shaped culture and life as we know it.
Want to read about some epic movie music? Then look no further than right here.
Keep reading to find out the seven best movie soundtracks of all time.
1. (500) Days of Summer
This 2009 indie classic is known for its heartbreaking tale of boy-meets-girl, but along for the ride is an incredibly catchy soundtrack.
(500) Days of Summer’s soundtrack thrives because it is intertwined so deeply into the plot of the story. Without giving away any spoilers (who do you think we are?) main characters Summer and Tom form a connection over the 80s alternative-rock group The Smiths.
The Smiths’ seminal 1986 single “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” plays a secondary role in this film. As Summer gently sings the lyrics in an elevator ride with Tom, the audience gets a nod that this is a huge turning point in the plot.
In addition to the moody indie-rock, this soundtrack also features tracks by Simon & Garfunkel, Wolfmother, and even leading lady Zooey Deschanel’s folk-pop duo, She & Him.
Overall, (500) Days of Summer’s soundtrack is iconic in delivering the quirky, heart-aching emotion and angst that the movie documents.
2. Garden State
Garden State is a 2004 film that stars Zach Braff, who also served as screenwriter and director for the film.
The film opens with Coldplay’s smooth and dreamy track “Don’t Panic,” which serves as an excellent opener to the movie’s overall melancholy and earnest tone.
One thing that makes this movie’s soundtrack so memorable is the fact that Braff hand-selected the music for the film. Since this project was a deeply personal one, the music gives another nod to Braff’s knack for storytelling and creating a particular space through music.
Other notable features on this soundtrack include indie-rock group The Shins, whose track “New Slang” was a noteworthy plot point in the film, as Natalie Portman’s character introduces it to Zach Braff’s in a meet-cute.
Overall, Garden State’s soundtrack plays to the personal nature of the material and delivers an intimate soundscape to accompany the film.
3. Black Panther
Black Panther is a marvel universe favorite, and its soundtrack is as powerful and noteworthy as the film itself. Featuring artists like Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Vince Staples, and more, this soundtrack is thunderous and grandiose, mimicking the futuristic world of Wakanda.
Acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar served as the primary producer on this soundtrack, and his influence is incredibly apparent. From rattling high-hats and deeply layered beats, the music for Black Panther echoes the urgency and energy that is present in the film.
With a long list of features on this record, it creates a melting pot of styles and sounds, all within the rap vein. If you want to feel epic, Black Panther’s soundtrack will not disappoint.
4. Almost Famous
Oozing with vintage flair and nostalgia, the 2000 rock and roll film Almost Famous offers an incredible soundtrack that you and your parents can bond over.
The film is set in 1973 and features a story following music-enthusiast William, who gets a lucky chance of interviewing his favorite band for Rolling Stone. The film follows his journey with this band, all alongside classic 70s folk, singer-songwriter, and rock.
Led Zeppelin, The Who, Simon & Garfunkel are some notable artists on the soundtrack, just to name a few. The song choices perfectly echo the chaotic, groupie lifestyle of the ’70s and provide the audience with a view of the musician’s world through rose-colored glasses.
5. Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever is a perfect example of how to execute music in films.
Set in the disco-aged 1970s, Saturday Night Fever is an iconic drama that captures the boogie wonderland world of disco. The film’s whole soundtrack is set to the Bee Gees and is, without a doubt going to make you want to get groovy.
The opening scene is iconic alone, showing John Travolta walking in rhythm to the track “Stayin’ Alive.” Not only has this film been heralded as a classic, but it cemented the Bee Gees as musical icons and funk masters.
6. The Graduate
Mike Nichols’ The Graduate is widely considered a classic piece of cinema.
This 1967 film follows recent college-graduate Benjamin, as he moves back home to his parents’ house and tries to figure out his life. This coming-of-age story is set almost exclusively to folk-duo Simon & Garfunkel, with their tracks “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson” being notable in the movie’s plotline.
The Graduate’s soundtrack echos the loneliness and uncertainty that the main characters face and perfectly encapsulates the raw emotion in the film. In addition to Simon & Garfunkel, the soundtrack also features beautiful instrumentals composed by Dave Grusin.
7. Pulp Fiction
Eccentric filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has a knack for great movie soundtracks, but the music for the 1994 film Pulp Fiction sticks out from the rest.
Pulp Fiction is a colorful, violent film that captures dark humor like no other. The soundtrack, accompanied by ’60s surf rock influence and tracks by Neil Diamond and Kool & The Gang, is a perfect mishmash of styles to encapsulate the odd film perfectly.
John Hurley’s track “Son of a Preacher Man” resurged in popularity due to this film, and Pulp Fiction remains a classic piece of cinema with epic music that makes you want to dance alongside Uma Thurman and John Travolta.
The Seven Epic Movie Music Soundtracks
Music sets the tone for any film, and these seven soundtracks bring some epic movie music to your next binge-watching session.
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