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The 10 Worst Movie Soundtracks of All Time

10 July 2017 | Features, Other Lists | by Andreas Babiolakis

It is really hard to hate the score of a film. Even in the worst movies, a score is usually the saving grace that can get you by without wanting to pull your hair out. Scores and soundtracks, whether they compose of original material or a compilation of popular songs, are usually terrific.

Even in a divided franchise like ‘Twilight’, the soundtrack had songs that many could agree upon, more so than the film they came from. This is because soundtracks are purchasable, just like the films. You cannot buy the cinematography, editing, or script of a film (well, that last example is possible if you are wealthy enough, or just find a free/published copy), but you can buy a copy of the music from said film.

The music is a selling point for many movies, and it is often used to promote a film and to feed into a proud fan’s indulgences.

Yes, many bad films have great songs in them. However, this is the rare case where the music is also awful.

This has to be one of the hardest lists I have ever compiled because of how rare it is to find music that can be seen as the negative point in any movie. Nonetheless, these are both scores and soundtracks (with both original and compiled songs) that did their respective films no favors. These are 10 of the worst soundtracks in movie history.

 

10. Rocky IV

Anyone could tell you that “Rocky IV” is the worst Rocky film of them all. “Rocky” was a story of an underdog who wanted to make it. “Rocky II” was his dream coming more true than ever. And “Rocky IV” has an overly powerful villain, Ivan Drago, a goddamn robot, and the cheesiest soundtrack in the universe.

The “Rocky IV” soundtrack is cornier than the soundtracks of “Top Gun”, “Saturday Night Fever”, “The Karate Kid”, and a Neil Diamond album in succession. Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” is iconic, and even in context, it is hard to knock this song (despite it being far from a favourite of mine). It just serves the film greatly. Every other song tries way too hard to sound inspirational without having the actual soul of true influence; there is way too much heart that desires, and not enough actual passion.

“Eye of the Tiger” is the only exception (and, frankly, the only genuinely decent song out of any of these entries on this list), but one song does not make a score. There’s a reason why that song is brought up the most when “Rocky IV” is brought up, and why the original classic “Gonna Fly Now” is brought up whenever any Rocky film is mentioned. Otherwise, the only knockout associated with this soundtrack is the sleeping aid you may or may not have taken while listening to it.

 

9. Wild Wild West

The Wild Wild West

You can look at this entry in one of two ways. The Elmer Bernstein score that accompanied this confusing drivel of a film is as meandering as the movie’s concept. Instruments come and go, and none of it feels authentically cohesive. The score tries to encompass too many genres without knowing how to mix them well enough together. Like the movie, it’s too many ingredients and not enough care of how the dish will actually taste.

On the other hand, you have a series of singles stacked together, and most of them feature artists that were huge at the time. Who can go wrong with Dr. Dre, Eminem, Missy Elliott, and the main man himself, Will Smith? Well, “Wild Wild West” was no “Men in Black”, and most of the cuts here, once again, do not seem comfortable within the film whatsoever (then again, what about this film is comfortable?). “Wild Wild West” was just really really awkward, and most aspects of its music followed suit.

 

8. The Lonely Lady

This unfortunate adaptation of a Harold Robbins novel tries its absolute best to be an aesthetically innovative drama, yet every effort it makes falls extremely flat. The dual-tone images make the effects in “Vertigo” feel much more current.

The audio effects are a calamity. Finally, the music is also extremely out of place. The pop tunes aren’t too shabby when removed from the film, but within the film they do absolutely nothing to enhance any scene. Not only that, but each song gets ruined furthermore by whatever noise is slammed on top of the track.

Like everything else in the film, the music is drastic and yet a complete misfire. The original music by Charlie Calello doesn’t help either, especially since these songs get bombarded by the film’s noise as well. Without the clutter, the tracks are tedious. With everything else in the film, the music is a series of sore thumbs that will be painful.

 

7. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

This has to be one of the ugliest films in the history of the medium. If you have not seen it, this film is a thousand times worse than whatever you can imagine. The plot is disturbing, the titular kids are vomit-inducing (one literally is), and the tone of this adolescent nonsense is evil.

The soundtrack is as obnoxious as the brats that lead this picture (both the human and puppet kinds). Every song is loud, clunky, and grating. If you are heavily against the 80s, this soundtrack will make almost every other 80’s song sound like a masterpiece. That is because these collection of songs are every ‘80s cliché done poorly and angrily.

Any sense of bite that these songs have is usually due to the artists being negative. What could make this soundtrack even worse? What about a sing-along tantrum anthem sung by the actual bloody kids? “Working With Each Other” is a brainwashing torture device, and it will only prove that, once again, the film is actually working against you.

 

6. Barb Wire

barb-wire

This Pamela Anderson shriller has been flagged as one of the poorest cases of plagiarism (or tribute, depending on how you see it) in film history. It mocks the heart that “Casablanca” has by being crass, soulless, and just a gigantic bore. Well, is the soundtrack more inspired than this awful film that focused too much on the bar in Casablanca and on nothing else? Well, none of these songs are ones that will have you asking Sam to play them again.

Don’t get me wrong: some of these songs are kind-of-barely-somewhat-distantly decent if you really give them a chance (Shampoo’s “Don’t Call Me Babe” isn’t so bad in general). As a collective, all of the overly-similar tones and sounds are mind-numbing, especially in a flick that will truly test your patience.

You then have covers of songs that do virtually nothing to improve the original cuts (nor do these songs do any service to the originals either). In that case, these songs are extremely relevant to “Barb Wire”. In all seriousness, you can only take so much forced edge in a typically 90’s album without wanting to puke. Here’s ignoring you, kid.

 

 

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  • Jules F. Melo Borges

    Rocky IV Soundtrack is not that bad. Vince DiCola’s work on it made it fine.

    Now, Wild Wild West has no reason to be here. You just didn’t like the movie because it was clueless, that’s another story…

  • Dave

    Isn’t Eye of the Tiger Rocky III? Rocky IV brought the great James Brown to the lowest point in his career with Livin In America. When I saw lowest point, I’m including his crack fueled police chase too.

    As far as terrible scores, Bill Conti’s For Your Eyes Only is about as dreadful and wrong as it gets.

  • ClanTechie

    Most of these movies are garbage anyway, so what can you expect from their soundtracks? Now “Ladyhawke”s is really dated and a millennial watching it now might puke. But I don’t think it was necessarily bad.

  • No Rock of Ages? Battlefield Earth? Pearl Harbor?

    • Jules F. Melo Borges

      Battlefield Earth is not that bad! I mean, if you ignore the nauseating amount of Dutch angles, the campy plot and the clueless makeup, it’s very entertaining.

      • It’s still shit w/o all of those things. It’s truly one of the worst films ever made.

  • Gunn

    Eye of the tiger appeared originally in Rocky III. it still appears in the IV soundtrack out of his popularity. Highlighting that but not mentioning well known songs from that soundtrack like “Burning Heart”, “No easy way out”, “Living in america” or “Hearts on fire” tells me you have little idea what you’re talking about, sir. Also, the soundtrack cues from VInce DiCola (“War”, and, especially “Training montage”) are synth classics. The Rocky V soundtrack trying to soound hip and urban with it’s bland hip-hop it’s actually much worst.

    Aside from that… Ladyhawke worst soundtrack of all time? Guess you just jumped on the bandwagon of the anachronistic synth driven themes, ignoring the rest of the beautiful symphonic ost. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwzL_PHG3yM Wanna talk about an outdated, inappropriate soundtrack in otherwise good movie? Let’s talk about Norman Jewison’s “… And justice for all”

    The room? Troll 2? Barb Wired? Seriously? I Guessed we will talk about soundtracks in real movies, no b-movies trash. Terrible, lazy list.

    • Jules F. Melo Borges

      I like this score out of sympathy but cannot disagree if someone doesn’t. Really, for someone who was born today, Medieval times and 80s synth score just don’t make sense. Eh eh

      • Gunn

        Being objective, neither should a symphonic orchestra, since neither of them existed in that times! XD

  • Brian Gregory

    Most of Zimmers’ scores -a generic rythm then not much else. Compare to the beauty, skill and melodic soul of a Bernard Herrmann or a John Barry.

    • Garrett Goulet

      And they said that Zimmer introduced the synthesizer to the film score. WRONG!!! Dave Grusin did it as early as ’68 with “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” and Jerry Goldsmith did it with “The Illustrated Man” and John Barry did it with “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” in ’69.

  • Tigran Nox Potikyan

    Songs from Rocky 4 are amazing !!! and the movie itself is one of my favorite guilty pleasure films .