Getting into the top ten means business. There feels like a chasm between numbers 11 and 10, even though the order of such lists can flip on a whim. What’s interesting is the iconic status afforded to some of these soundtracks, a level of popularity that just doesn’t seem to happen with soundtracks anymore. It’s hard to imagine anything in this millennium resonating like the soundtracks to Singles or Romeo + Juliet did. It’s great to be able to think “Oh I love that song from that movie” and add it to a playlist, but that robs us of the joy of buying a soundtrack because of one song and discovering others that we love even more.
ROMEO + JULIET – Admit it, as soon as you saw this on the list you started singing it. “Love me, love me, say that you love me…” Like most overplayed earworms, time has revealed ‘Lovefool’ to be a stunningly brilliant pop song and it’s in strong company on a diverse soundtrack that runs from very 90s (Everclear) to unspeakably 90s (The Wannadies).
Highlights – Remember when Everclear were great? “Local God’ will help refresh your memory; the aforementioned contagious ‘Lovefool’; forgotten Irish balladeer Mundy with ‘To You I Bestow’.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI – Aside from being one of the Coen’s best films, The Big Lebowski is also notable for the brothers’ first collaboration with T-Bone Burnett, a partnership that would lead to the stunning soundtracks for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Inside Llewyn Davis. The signs were there with this wonderfully eclectic soundtrack, as wild and weird as the film itself.
Highlights – Townes Van Zandt’s high and lonesome cover of ‘Dead Flowers’; The Gipsy Kings breathing a bit of fun into The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’; Kenny Rogers’ ‘I Just Checked In To See What Condition My Condition Was In’.
CLUELESS – The soundtrack to Amy Heckerling’s utterly perfect teen comedy feels like it’s split between Cher and Josh’s music taste – Counting Crows, Radiohead and Cracker for him, Coolio, Luscious Jackson and Jill Sobule for her. It’s so 90s, it may as well be wearing knee high socks and drinking Smirnoff Ice.
Highlights – The cover versions win out: The Muffs chugging, snarling take on ‘Kids In America’; Cracker’s endearingly faithful version of ‘Shake Some Action’; World Party’s Jagger-esque ‘All The Young Dudes’; and, of course, Coolio’s ‘Rolling With My Homies’. R.I.P. Brittany.
JACKIE BROWN – It’s hardly surprising to find another Tarantino soundtrack on here. For our money, this is even better than its better-selling counterparts for Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, although the dialogue here doesn’t add as much as it did previously. The Jackie Brown soundtrack feels less gimmicky than its predecessors, leaning heavily on the soulful, funky sounds of 70s R ‘n’ B.
Highlights – Putting ‘Across 110th Street’ on any record makes it automatically great; The Delfonics sublime ‘Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time?’; the smooth groove of Bill Withers’ wonderfully titled ‘Who Is He (And What Is He To You)’
SINGLES – Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy tapped into the zeitgeist by using 90s Seattle as its backdrop and scattering some of the grunge scene’s brightest lights throughout the film and its soundtrack. That’s Pearl Jam as Matt Dillon’s backing band, the cast head out to an Alice In Chains show and Chris Cornell stands by as Dillon blows out Bridget Fonda’s windows with his speaker system.
Highlights – Pearl Jam’s ‘State Of Love And Trust’, which would have been the best song on Ten, if they’d included it; the haunting Zep-esque blues of Chris Cornell’s ‘Seasons’; Paul Westerberg’s jangly, poppy ‘Waiting For Somebody’.