10 Greatest Rock Soundtracks We Don’t Mind Putting On Repeat
Music Curation At Its Finest
You know what we love more than good films? It’s when they have amazing soundtracks to boot. So check out this list. Who knows? You might just find your next favorite movie.
This musical comedy-adventure film stars The Fab Four – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. This is their second movie after “A Hard Day’s Night” and while “Help!” is basically just a light goof, the soundtrack needs to be taken seriously. Besides, while the latter is slightly inferior to the former with regards to the reviews received, “Help!” is still widely considered as highly influential. Also, the soundtrack which was released as an album earned 5/5 stars from AllMusic, Chicago Sun-Times, Encyclopedia of Popular Music and The Rolling Stone Album Guide. It was the start of their groundbreaking experimentation and more impressive songs on their catalog. From “Yesterday” to “Ticket to Ride,” we didn’t know it was still possible for The Beatles to blow us away. They certainly knew how to play with our emotions and give us mind-boggling incredible tracks. So yes, there’s really no wonder why this made it to the list.
2. “Dazed and Confused”
“Dazed and Confused” is a coming-of-age comedy film which follows a group of teenagers during their last day of school. The title, as you may have already guessed, is taken from the famous Led Zeppelin version of the blues-rock song. Writer and director Richard Linklater even asked for permission from the members if he could use the classic hit “Rock and Roll” in the movie. Both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones agreed but it was Robert Plant who refused.
From Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and ZZ Top’s “Tush” to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone,” KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” – Linklater seemed to be determined to breathe new life into these classics. Some tracks like Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” Ted Nugent’s “Hey Baby” and Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” were included in the film but weren’t on the soundtrack album which was released on September 28, 1993 by The Medicine Label.
3. “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)
Normally, we try to include just one piece from every rock band but because it’s The Beatles (Hello, do we really need to emphasize this?), we’re more than glad to make an exception. Besides, who wouldn’t want to take a peek into what constitutes as a ‘typical day’ in the life of The Fab Four? We know there are screaming fan girls following them everywhere they go but what we really love about this film is, you guessed it, the soundtrack. Where do we even begin? John Lennon and Paul McCartney raised the bar in songwriting after penning some of the album’s greatest hits. The songs are thunderous and explosive. If anything, this made us appreciate more how much talent The Beatles had. They know how to reach a different high every single time and well, this is proof that they were nothing but musical geniuses – a bunch of goofy dudes at that too.
4. “Easy Rider”
“Easy Rider” is a 1969 film about two bikers who sold cocaine and traveled through the American Southwest and South after selling a big batch of the drug. It was a winner in the box office (at $60 million) which was surprising for almost everyone and it even raked in some awards. But one thing to note about the movie is the groundbreaking music. The soundtrack featured hits from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Byrds, The Band and Steppenwolf.
Because of their extensive use of rock and even pop music, the licensing costs went beyond the intended budget and ballooned to $1 million – all that was still pretty unusual at the time. The songs were basically a huge part of the film’s success. Although Peter Fonda wanted Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young to write and perform an original piece, Dennis Hopper told the group: “Look, you guys are really good musicians, but honestly, anybody who rides in a limo can’t comprehend my movie, so I’m gonna have to say no to this, and if you guys try to get in the studio again, I may have to cause you some bodily harm.”
5. “The Departed”
“The Departed” is a Martin Scorcese crime drama masterpiece which starred some of the Hollywood A-listers – Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg. It was a huge success and earned $289.8 million at the box office and bagged multiple awards at the 79th Academy Awards. But aside from directing really well, another thing Scorcese is good at is this – using rock music in his movies. Just how good? Well he influenced other filmmakers to use rock ‘n roll to its full advantage.
There were two albums released: the soundtrack and the original score by Howard Shore. Consider this, the movie opened using The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and they featured it once more in another scene. There’s even a live version of “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd taken from their 1990 concert ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin.’ John Lennon’s “Well Well Well” is also in the movie but wasn’t included in the soundtrack album.
6. “The Graduate”
A comedy drama film based on a 1963 novel written by Charles Webb, it follows a 21-year old man who recently graduated college and is seduced by an older woman. As it happens, he fell for her daughter. It was a massive success and is even of the highest grossing movies both in the US and Canada.
Director Mike Nichols used several Simon and Garfunkel classic hits (such as the acoustic version of the epic masterpiece “The Sounds of Silence” which was used three times), which in turn, boosted the folk rock duo’s profile. In addition, the soundtrack album also featured instrumental pieces by pianist Dave Grusin and it was released on January 21, 1968 and proceeded to top the charts. Nichols told Simon, “It’s not for the movie… it’s a song about times past — about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff. It’s now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt.”
A comedy drama film which depicts the story of an eccentric teenager, “Rushmore” helped launch the careers of director Wes Anderson (this is considered as one of his finest works) and actor Jason Schwartzman. Anderson has used numerous Rolling Stones tracks in his previous movies and he originally wanted to only use songs from The Kinks for “Rushmore” because it perfectly suited the loud nature of the lead character. However, he ended up using a wide array of tunes from rock acts who were part of the 1960s British Invasion.
According to him, “Max (Jason Schwartzman) always wears a blazer and the British Invasion sounds like music made by guys in blazers, but still rock ‘n’ roll.” This is why only one song from The Kinks was used – “Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl.” Rob Brunner wrote in Entertainment Weekly, “this collection won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the movie. But for anyone who left the theater singing along to the Faces’ “Ooh La La”, it’s an essential soundtrack.”
Ah, yes. This is another brilliant work from Martin Scorcese – a biographical crime film which follows the rise and fall of Henry Hill. It’s highly considered as one of the greatest movies in this genre, has won multiple awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and with numerous nominations during the Oscars, and it received positive reviews from critics. Scorcese has proven time and again how music became essential in telling a story.
And this is undoubtedly one of his finest works. From Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” to Derek and the Domino’s “Layla” – once you see this movie, you’ll never listen to them the same way again. You will always be reminded of the film and its memorable scenes – yes, including the part when the dead bodies are revealed one by one. Besides, Scorcese was careful to include only those which perfectly complement the scenes or the characters.
9. “The Big Lebowski”
“The Big Lebowski” is a crime comedy film inspired by the work of novelist Raymond Chandler. Although it flopped at the box office, mixed reviews slowly turned into positive until the movie eventually became a cult favorite. The original score was composed by a veteran and longtime collaborator of the directors Joel and Ethan Coen (he scored 15 of the films they made) – Carter Burwell. The Coen Brothers commissioned the help of T-Bone Burnett to pick which songs to include in the soundtrack. He asked to be credited as the film’s ‘Music Archivist’ instead of ‘Supervisor.’ Thus, you can hear various classics like Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” The Gipsy Kings’ version of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival. According to Joel Coen, “the original music, as with other elements of the movie, had to echo the retro sounds of the Sixties and early Seventies.”
10. “Grosse Pointe Blank”
“Grosse Point Blank” is a crime comedy film and take note, the score was composed by no less than The Clash’s Joe Strummer. The soundtrack includes two of the band’s songs: “Rudie Can’t Fail” and “Armagideon Time.” It’s basically a mix of hit songs from the ska, punk rock and new wave genres. Other tracks include David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure,” Guns ‘n Roses “Live and Let Die,” Pixies’ “Monkey Gone To Heaven,” A-ha’s “Take on Me,” and the E. Cola Mix of Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door.”
There are several songs, however, which you can hear on the film but weren’t included in the soundtrack album released on March 13, 1997 (for the Volume 1) and October 7, 1997 (for the Volume 2). There are plenty of great scenes and one of the most significant, aside from the 10-year high school reunion, was when the character Martin Blank goes back to his childhood home.