20 Movie Soundtracks With The Best Collection of Songs

14. The Departed (2006)

As is the case with a number of Martin Scorsese films, dating back to “Raging Bull” in 1980, the famous country and western singer Robbie Robertson has acted as a music producer for the director, as well as an educated advisor during the task of picking the records for the films soundtrack. The film released two music albums upon its premier, one of which was based around Howard Shore’s original score, whilst the second features the tracks used within the film.

“The Departed” opens with The Rolling Stones spectacular “Gimme Shelter”, which was previously used to varying effects in both “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. The Rolling Stones are a band that has never been used as effectively as they have under Scorsese, later using another of their pieces, the timeless “Let It Loose”.

Its other band that gets an endearing amount of celebration recurring throughout the film is the Boston based Irish punk band The Dropkick Murphys, whos track “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”, plays during several scenes, a sure fire contribution to this becoming their bestselling single.

A remake of Hong Kong crime thriller “Infernal Affairs”, the remainder of the soundtrack includes, Patsy Clines captivating ballad “Sweet Dreams Of You” and classic guitar records “Baby Blue” by Badfinger, “Sail On, Sailor” by The Beach Boys, as well as American rapper Nas’ “Thief’s Theme” and a live recording of “Comfortably Numb” by Roger Waters, The Band and Van Morrison.

Best Song – Dropkick Murphy’s – “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” (2005)


13. Filth (2013)

Novice director Jon S. Baird’s adapted screenplay and retelling of Irvine Welsh’s deeply disturbing psychological novel of the same name deals with police corruption, substance abuse, and mental issues including repressive memories and depression. The film’s varying tones which go from darkly humorous all the way to its harrowing dramatics and outright terrifying moments which are equally matched in diversity by its obscure collective soundtrack.

Its disjointed peculiar soundtrack is never more apparent than at the end of the piece in which Clint Mansell’s adaption of Radiohead’s blissful track “Creep” with Eliot ‘Coco’ Sumner performing vocals serves as a haunting melodic commentary for the films heart wrenching conclusion, this is prior to a complete shift in tone during the end credits as Billy Ocean’s unbelievably happy break up song “Love Really Hurts Without You” sees the film out over the hilarious animated credits.

It’s most notable other additions are from The Shirelles’ flawless ballad “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and David Soul’s catchy “Silver Lady” which plays during a bizarre musical intermission.

Perfectly fitting the film, the rest of the soundtrack consists of an even more strange mixture, including upbeat soul and blues numbers from Otis Blackwell, Tom Jones, The Third Degree and Clarence Carter, as well as Culture Beats instantly recognisable dance classic “Mr Vain”, with a few Christmas songs thrown in for good measure.

Best Song – Clint Mansell & Eliot ‘Coco’ Sumner – “Creep” (2013)


12. Superbad (2007)

Director Greg Mottola’s side-splittingly funny 2007 comedy “Superbad” which depicted the struggles of high school, house parties, underage drinking and talking to girls, was instantly quotable, highly relatable and unrelenting.

More so, it served as a gateway project for a number of up and coming actors, allowing them to put their names forward in noteworthy roles and open up doors in their careers, first giving the likes of Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Stone and Jonah Hill a substantial platform to perform.

Away from its merciless barrage of laugh out loud moments and quotable lines, “Superbad” provided a charismatic soundtrack that has rarely been seen before in teen comedy films, opting for an assortment of upbeat funk, disco, and soul tracks from the 1970’s.

Providing a purposely cool soundtrack in the vein of smooth operator films such as “Shaft” and “Superfly”, which serves as an ironic backing to the uncool hapless leads as they try and navigate their way through a Friday nights antics in an unconventional manner.

Whilst the original score by Lyle Workman provides the necessary groovy tone for the film, it hosts a number of substantial hits from the likes of The Bar-Kays, Jean Knight, Curtis Mayfield, The Roots and Four Tops. Most strikingly, the Four Tops extraordinary song “Are You Man Enough?” which soundtracks an ordinary bus journey, and the colourful “Too Hot To Stop” by the Bar-Kays that plays over the vibrant intro.

Best Song – Four Tops – “Are You Man Enough?” (1973)


11. The Graduate (1968)

Predominantly using the work of Simon and Garfunkel, “The Graduate” uses the vocals of the pair’s seminal recordings to shape each and every scene. Most notably its use of “The Sound of Silence” at the films ambiguous climax, as director Mike Nichols pans in on Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin Braddock’s emotionless face following his impromptu wedding crashing and spontaneous eloping with the soon to be wed Elaine, before the lyrics kick in and his face drops in a realisation of the future that he has now signed himself up for. A truly ground breaking scene which was a long way from the typical romantic endings Hollywood produced in this era.

It’s equally sublime track “Mrs Robinson” is used to phenomenal effect, an instantly recognisable song that has been used in a number of films since its initial utilisation here. Other great tracks included are “The Singleman Party Foxtrot”, “April Come She Will” and “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine”, as well as tracks from Don Covay and Ma Rainey’s “See See Rider Blues”.

Best Song – Simon & Garfunkel – “The Sound of Silence” (1964)


10. O’ Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

The soundtrack savvy Coen Brothers have a breath taking perception for selecting the correct music to infuse into their films, whether it’s the acoustic folk harmonies of “Inside Llewyn Davis”, predominantly performed by the films lead, Oscar Isaac, or the several flawless choices in music in the likes of “A Serious Man”, “”Blood Simple” or the deep south American bluegrass and soul that embodies their hilarious adventure road movie “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”

The soundtrack, produced by T. Bone Burnet compiles a collection of period-specific folk melodies, gospel, blues and soulful odes that are traditionally inspired by religion, which all incongruously serve as a backing theme to the group of escaped convicts led by George Clooney at the helm of the 1930’s Great Depression based film, a satirical irony that sets the offbeat tales tone of mockery and wit.

It’s most notable songs are Harry McCintock’s era defining “Big Rock Candy Mountain”, which has been used a number of times in cinema history, as well as The Soggy Bottom Boys “Man of Constant Sorrow”, which is performed by the chain gang on the screen, ministering their ticket to success, fame and freedom.

The accompanying album to the film, certified an 8 time platinum record, which topped a number of Billboard charts, mostly consisted of new recordings of decade definitive tracks, with the exception of a few notable originals.

The selections of music have a contrasting subject matter, using the paradox of themes of hope and rejoice most notably “Down to the River to Pray”, “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “You Are My Sunshine” against dissimilar recordings of despair and death “O Death” and “Lonesome Valley”, a clear indication that music was a beacon of faith and optimism in a time of such misery in American history.

Best Song – The Soggy Bottom Boys “Man of Constant Sorrow” (2000)


9. Trainspotting (1996)

“Trainspotting” has a profusely diverse soundtrack that sets the films manic tone from the opening scene, injecting adrenaline into its soon to be frantically pumping veins with Iggy Pop’s energetic “Lust for Life” as we see Ewan McGregor’s lead character Renton, darting through the streets of Edinburgh.

This is the hyper tone that keeps racing through the majority of the frenzied soundtrack as though drug-fuelled itself much like the films characters, it continues onto further feverish hits of the same nature, including the base-heavy “Born Slippy” by British electronic group Underworld, and progressive house group Leftfield’s “A Final Hit”.

The “Trainspotting” soundtrack made way for a couple of tracks by American rocker Iggy Pop as well as the dance act Underworld contributing twice, outside of these two key artists, there was also significant contributions from a number of other talented British musicians in the form of Sheffield new wave act Heaven 17, influential rock band Joy Division, the local Scottish based group Primal Scream and the seminal David Bowie.

Away from the film’s primarily lively dance and rock enthusiastic soundtrack, Danny Boyle’s talented ear for matching blissful harmonies with vividly harrowing visuals is quite spectacular, most notably combining Lou Reed’s soulful classic “Perfect Day”, with Ewan McGregor’s Renton’s traumatically filmed overdose scene, turning the mesmerisingly calming ode into a hauntingly dark backing track.

Best Song – Underworld – “Born Slippy” (1995)


8. Django Unchained (2012)

A list that could be primarily filled with Quentin Tarantino films, the pivotal director has always had a keen ear for choosing the perfect songs to set the correct tone of his ground breaking work, in turn producing a number of influential soundtracks to accommodate his critically acclaimed films.

Here, expertly crafting a gritty country and western soundtrack infused with topical hip hop and modern soul to provide the impeccable soundtrack to his stylised revenge tale, motivated by slavery in the Deep South, two years prior to the American Civil War outbreak.

Whilst veteran Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone provides strikingly suitable interludes of typical Wild West themed score, it is the compilation of selected tracks that most successfully drive the films sound.

Opening with Rocky Roberts and Luis Bacalov’s original theme song to the 1966 film “Django”, it then proceeds through a number of period inspired soulful numbers such as Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton’s beautifully produced “Freedom”, John Legends “Who Did That to You?” and Johnny Cash’s flawless rendition of the traditional gospel song “Ain’t No Grave”.

Away from the films typical country & western inspired pieces, Tarantino managed to seamlessly slip in a number of hip hop tracks to proceedings, serving as a salute to African American culture in modern day, most notably a James Brown and 2-Pac remix “Unchained” combining two of the artists most famous songs as a surprisingly well fitted background for the films blood soaked shootout in the third act.

Best Song – Johnny Cash – “Ain’t No Grave” (2003)