The Top 30 best film soundtracks of all time, Part 2

The Top 30 best film soundtracks of all time, Part 2

Okay, well here we are for round 2 of my picks for the TOP 30 best film soundtracks of all time (you can find part 1 here) Let’s begin.

18. “Lost In Translation”

I can’t attest to being a huge fan of Sofia Coppola or of this film. I didn’t dislike it mind you, I just wasn’t floored by it. But I can attest that her taste in music is pretty much note perfect. Not only did she get My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields out of semi-retirement to record some new tunes, she included classic tracks by Jesus and Mary Chain and the aforementioned MBV. Top it off with one of the best songs Air’s ever recorded “Lost In Kyoto” and some great textural work by Death In Vegas and Squarepusher and you have a very quirky and appealing song set.

*I also have to give a shout out to her choice of having Air record the soundtrack of her 1st film “The Virgin Suicides” which barely missed making this list.

17. “Pretty In Pink”

While Pretty in Pink for me, doesn’t attain the classic status of John Hughes’s classics “16 Candles”,”The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller” (when he produced instead of directed the difference in quality was apparent)  it certainly is the best overall soundtrack of his filmography. All the aforementioned films all have great songs, but with PIP you have the eponymous Psychedelic Fur’s title track, Echo and The Bunnymen’s pastoral classic “Bring on The Dancing Horses” and arguably the Smith’s best song next to “How Soon Is Now” (“Please, Please, Please, Let me Get What I Want”.) And who could forget the OMD weepie “If You Leave”? Add in some good tunes from INXS, New Order (and even Suzanne Vega) and it’s a prefect slice of 80’s New Wave glory, steeped in synths and saxophones.

*Honorable 80’s soundtrack mention :”The Lost Boys”, and the great, quirky punk rock collection on “Repo Man”.

16. “Kill Bill” Volume 1

Why is this in my Top 30, but “Pulp Fiction” isn’t included, you may ask? Simple. In “Pulp Fiction” the best song from the film is clearly “Rumble” by Link Wray (It’s played during the Jackrabbit Slim scene) and it’s not included in the soundtrack. It’s a glaring omission I just can’t overlook(Cool fact: “Rumble” an instrumental recorded in the 50’s, was considered so dangerous to the youth of America that it was banned on most radio stations. No lyrics, just cranked up distortion, which “sounded threatening”. Weird, huh?). Plus I’m no Neil Diamond fan, and not even Urge Overkill can salvage “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”. Sorry.

Anyways, Kill Bill has the awesome Nancy Sinatra sultry classic “Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down”,great songs by Neu, Quincy Jones, Isaac Hayes and  the already iconic pre-Crazy 88’s fight theme from the Wu-Tang’s RZA. All Tarantino soundtracks have great songs (“Death Proof” and “Reservoir Dogs” are also crazy good), but this one’s my favorite.

15.”The Doom Generation”
Doom Generation

This film for me was an arty bore, but man the soundtrack is aces. Audaciously grunge free given it’s mid 90’s release, it instead focused primarily on British rock in various forms, with great tracks by the Verve, Jesus and Mary Chain, Love and Rockets and The Cocteau twins and a steady dash of dream pop (Lush, Curve, Slowdive). It still sounds fresh.

*Also recommended: Check out the soundtrack for the film “Cool World”. Another forgettable film, but great songs from The Cult, Bowie, Moby and Ministry among others.

14. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

Trent Reznor has worked his way up the film scoring ladder for a while now. He compiled the awesomely diverse Natural Born Killers soundtrack, performed and produced several songs off Lynch’s “Lost Highway” and finally went composer proper , joining collaborator Atticus Ross with his Academy award-winning “The Social Network” score. With “Dragon Tattoo” the pair goes one better. Recording piano and other acoustic instruments and tweaking them into unrecognizable forms with mic placement and electronic manipulations, an eerie oppressive haze emerges. It has an arctic, dismal chill which matches the visuals perfectly. Between bell tones and gurgling synths it’s a unique body of work. And he topped it with 2 nice singles, Karen O’s slamming Led Zep Cover of “Immigrant Song” and his collaboration with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig on their cover of Bryan Ferry’s  “Is Your Love Strong Enough”, originally recorded for Ridley Scott’s “Legend”.

*For another interesting and disturbing collection of sounds that don’t quite  qualify as songs, explore Art Bell’s inventive score for “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”

13.”Miracle Mile”

Tangerine Dream are an electronic collective of musicians who’ve been doing great soundtracks since the 70’s, and were one of several who spearheaded the idea of purely synthesized scores. They’ve done so many great ones that I was hard pressed to choose. They also scored  “Legend”, the Cowboy Vampire classic “Near Dark” and Michael Mann’s “Thief”. But I went with “Miracle Mile” which is a great, but little seen apocalyptic film that captures the Reagan-era  fear of a nuclear war in stomach churning fashion. If you haven’t seen the film and you’re up for a paranoid thriller, you can stream it on Netflix. The score is tense, edgy and has a continuous, metronome pulse. foreshadowing the ticking nuclear assault (the film was one of the 1st of its kind to be based in real time, ala the Tv show “24”)
*Another pioneer in electronic score department was Giorgio Moroder, whose “Midnight Express” & “American Gigolo” barely missed inclusion.



What a perfect soundtrack. From great atmospheric instrumentals (“The Chromatics “Ticking of The Clock”, and Cliff Martinez’s “What about the Deluxe Version”, to synth pop that sounds straight out of 1987 (Desire’s “Under Your Spell” , College’s “A Real Hero”) and a song that sounds like an awesome Air/Moby mashup (“Nightcall” by Kravinksi & Lovefoxx), this is one solid collection that gets the nuances of 80’s cinema score down to frightening detail. It will stay in your Ipod rotation indefinitely, I assure you.

 *See also: Cliff Martinez’s excellent ambient score for Stephen Soderburgh’s “Traffic”.

11.  “Singles”

I remember little to nothing about this lackluster effort from Cameron Crowe except for the stellar soundtrack. It has all the elements of 90’s alternative rock in its heyday with great tracks from Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell solo and with Soundgarden. The standouts for me are Alice in Chain’s brooding “Would”, Smashing Pumpkin’s “Drown” (replete with the delayed feedback extended outro.  I hate when the radio would always chop that off), and Mother Love Bone’s “Chloe, Crown of Thorne’s”.


That concludes Part 2! You can see the Top 10 by clicking here.


About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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16 Responses to The Top 30 best film soundtracks of all time, Part 2

  1. Jack Sommersby March 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    We totally agree on “Lost in Translation” — both that the soundtrack is great but the film is overrated! Yeah, “Miracle Mile” is awesome to listen to — I remember you putting it on in your car while we were driving on the highway at night, and it had a really hypnotic effect. (By the way, on the special-edition DVD of “Legend”, the director’s cut has the original Jerry Goldsmith score. (The studio made Scott replace it because they thought it was too “frightening’.) We do disagree on “The Doom Generation” the movie — I placed it on my top-10 list that year — but the music is pretty damn unbeatable. Greg Arakki has always had a great ear for that kind of thing. Looking forward to the next installment!

    • Michael Taylor March 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

      Yeah I have the DVD of “Legend”, I may have to get it on Blu-ray as well. Flawed but still watchable. Top !0 coming shortly!

  2. Jack Sommersby March 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    (Oh, and of course Cameron Crowe has a great ear, too.)

  3. Alise April 20, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Lost Boys didn’t make the cut! No!!!!!!!!!!!! hahaha! I LOVE that soundtrack.


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