7. The Boat That Rocked (2009)
Relishing its 1960’s setting, British director and screenwriter Richard Curtis tells the tale of a revolutionary pirate radio station operating in the North Sea tasked with bringing music to the masses of Great Britain, with the aid of a star studded cast which includes Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans and Chris O’Dowd, “The Boat That Rocked” is a charming comedy picture that uses witty humour, sentimentality and nostalgia, aided by a spectacular soundtrack filled with upbeat, lively rock n roll songs from either side of the Atlantic.
The film operates as an open love letter to the real life stories in which it was based, depicting how music appreciating individuals saw potential in radio transmissions, and would stop at nothing to share their passion and inject a sense of fun into the airwaves, using radio as a means of entertainment, instead of the medium’s generally formal use in the 1960’s in which it was utilised for broadcasting widespread information.
Using an impressive group of influential artists such as The Kinks, Otis Redding, The Beach Boys, Jeff Beck, The Who, The Hollies, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie, “The Boat That Rocked” could stand as remarkable standalone soundtrack away from its motion picture counterpart.
Best Song – The Kinks – “All Day & All of the Night” (1965)
6. Mean Streets (1973)
Much like Martin Scorsese’s seminal motion pictures, the selection of fundamental songs within his film’s soundtracks are not only ground breaking but essential era-defining classics. A faultless soundtrack that was later matched in formula and style by the equally impressive music on 1980’s influential piece of cinema “Goodfellas”.
Director Martin Scorsese’s earliest noteworthy film “Mean Streets” was a serious promise that he would courageously start how he means to continue, as the Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro fronted crime thriller is still celebrated to this day, audaciously crafting an attractive and intricate film to use as a solid foundation for the empire of masterpieces he has since created.
Using dominant tracks from a handful of pivotal artists from the decade including, The Rolling Stones’ tracks “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Tell Me”, as well as The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, Eric Clapton’s “I Looked Away”, The Marvelettes’ “Please Mr Postman”, and The Shirelles’ “I Met Him On Sunday”.
It was films like “Mean Streets” that fundamentally changed the way music is used within cinema, linking street and pop culture, defining to this day how song harmonies combined with the visuals assist and enrich storytelling elements within films.
Best Song – The Ronettes – “Be My Baby” (1964)
5. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
As expected, a film loosely based on fact, portraying the escalation to success of the Manchester based record company Factory Records and its owner Tony Wilson during the 1970’s and 80’s would no doubt have a phenomenal soundtrack, taking its sound from bands that were directly involved with the studio, from the early doors punk rock it became involved with, through to the rise of the locally dubbed ‘Madchester’ scene which predominantly comprised of acid, house, rave and the birth of Britpop.
Starting back from when controversial figure Tony Wilson, played by Steve Coogan was inspired at a Sex Pistol’s gig, prior to establishing the company, the film uses the record studio’s full circling arc of contributing artists, its early heavier years are caught through punk rock bands imbuing anarchy such as The Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and The Clash.
It then leads through to a number of local legends Happy Mondays’ tracks, including the titular “24 Hour Party People”. The rest of the soundtrack is then rounded off with bands that bridge the gap between the two varying genres that the company helped revolutionise, including remarkable tracks from dance act Orbital, and astonishing records from Iggy Pop, Joy Division and New Order.
Best Song – New Order – “Blue Monday” (1983)
4. Forrest Gump (1994)
Robert Zemeckis’ divisive Oscar winner “Forrest Gump”, starring Tom Hanks as the unintelligent titular character, a simple wandering man who witnessed and even influenced a number of humankind’s fundamental moments in history, has over the years become a seminal piece of pop culture, infinitely quoted and romanticised despite its critics. One thing that everyone watching the film can agree on however is the fact that it compiled one of the finest selections of songs on a film of all time.
Including the likes of The Mamas and The Papas “California Dreamin’” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, Elvis Presley’s “Hounddog”, Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, as well as Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along The Watchtower”, The Doors “People Are Strange”, “Land of 1000 Dances” by Wilson Pickett and The Four Tops “I Can’t Help Myself”, to name only a few, Zemeckis’ film was outstandingly flooded with flawless music that have continued to gracefully age.
The tracks included are loved by as many people today as they were upon their initial release and it is thanks to films like “Forrest Gump” that have continued to champion incredible music and make sure that younger audiences continue to appreciate them, continuously making them relevant to future generations.
Best Song – Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama” (1974)
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Director James Gunn’s Marvel Comics indorsed space opera “Guardians of the Galaxy”, which in the long run will no doubt serve as foreplay for more Avengers related films, never truly felt like a Marvel superhero film upon its release, setting up its own unique universe and dedicated fan base through the aid of its complete disregard to take itself seriously, irreplaceable characters, as well as its flawless 70’s and 80’s inspired disco pop soundtrack dubbed ‘Awesome Mix Vol.1’.
Previously utilising Blue Swede’s memorable song “Hooked on a Feeling” throughout its trailers, the film goes on to render a highly infectious opening sequence that introduces Chris Pratt’s lead, Peter Quill, dancing around an alien infested tomb to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”, and it becomes evident that this piece of cinema would be like nothing seen before in the repetitive age of comic book movies.
Combining back to back musical hits throughout the film’s running time, from the likes of David Bowie, The Jackson 5, Rupert Holmes, Marvin Gaye, 10cc and The Runaways, it produces a seminal album, which was obvious by its commercial success, consecutively at the top of the Billboard chart for 11 weeks, amounting to 16 in total, as well as selling over a million copies and becoming certified Platinum.
“Guardians of the Galaxy”, unquestionably with the aid of its contagious soundtrack provided a highly desirable and refreshing take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe that in recent years has often felt crowded and in danger of becoming formulaic.
Best Song – Blue Swede – “Hooked on a Feeling” (1974)
2. Dazed & Confused (1993)
An outstanding film soundtrack that is packed full of monumental guitar hits, Richard Linklater’s “Dazed & Confused” habitually borrows its lively audio delights from 1970’s influential rock bands to compile a highly satisfying collection of transmittable heavy anthems that undoubtedly provides the necessary excited energy and rip-roarious feel good manner of the comedy film.
Based around a group of irresponsible friends rejoicing on the final day of high school, the loud and unapologetic “Dazed & Confused” revels in its 70’s party setting, opting for a huge collection of robust, heavy records filled with vigour that scream triumph and satisfaction, most notably including Foghat’s energetic “Slow Ride”, Alice Cooper’s appropriate “Schools Out”, ZZ Tops’ “Tush” and Sweet’s “Fox on the Run”, as well as a barrage of other rock hits from Kiss, The Runaways, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and War.
Away from its collection of classic big haired metal bands, the perfectly chosen inclusion of the equable Bob Dylan’s monumental track “Hurricane” which serves as an incredible backing as Matthew McConnaughey and the rest of the gang walk in slow motion in to The Emporium, a pool hall the group reside to during the film.
Best Song – Foghat – “Slow Ride (1975)
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Innovative director Quentin Tarantino’s seminal masterpiece “Pulp Fiction” arguably stands as his finest piece of work to date, a ground breaking crime thriller told in a disjointed narrative that combined remarkable powerhouse performances and enthrallingly clever storytelling, unquestionably matched by its influential soundtrack.
After opening with the pioneer of surf rock Dick Dale and his now iconic version of the instantly recognisable “Misirlou” it leads to an effortlessly cool collection of tracks from the 1960’s and 70’s, compiling an assortment of varying styles and genres including, melodic rock, blues, soul, funk, disco and rock n roll.
Using the laidback musical style juxtaposed to the gradual building of tension and thrills within the narrative, flawlessly picking the correct song for the each and every memorable scene, each song has weaved its way into pop culture, another masterclass in direction and panache by the director.
Quentin Tarantino refused to budge on his decisions, most memorably during the pivotal dance sequence in the Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist Contest in which both contributing actors John Travolta and Uma Thurman displayed their concerns over the choice of song, Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” with the opinion that it would not work effectively. Having to be reassured by QT, explaining it would be perfect, they proceeded with filming, admitting to be wrong upon seeing the end product.
As is the case with any Quentin Tarantino film, initially shown with “Reservoir Dogs” and further enriched within “Pulp Fiction” the soundtrack is always fundamental to effectively tell the story, finalising pieces of art, as the choices in song are deeply permeated within scenes, as characters interact and intertwine with sections of music, as is showcased by Uma Thurman during a scene in which she sensually dances around her living room singing along to Urge Overkill’s attractive cover of Neil Diamond’s melodic hit “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”. A perfect soundtrack that not only accompanies the film skilfully, but stands as one of the finest playlists of all time.
Best Song – Al Green – “Let’s Stay Together” (1972)
Honourable Mentions to any other Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Coen Brothers, or Martin Scorsese films, as it would be unfair to compile the entire list using their films, as well as “The Garden State”, “Into The Wild”, “From Dusk ‘til Dawn”, “Dumb & Dumber”, “American Graffiti”, “Top Gun”, “Easy Rider”, “Superfly”, “Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid”, “The Breakfast Club” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.
Author Bio: Dan Carmody, born and raised in Doncaster, England. When not working full time as a Civil Engineer, his one true passion is cinema, relating back to the early 1990’s when his mum showed him a lot of horror films way before he should have been allowed, an avid follower of all film genres, both classical and modern. Also enthusiastic about video games, travelling, making lists and cheese.