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Movies Worth Listening To: 10 Great Soundtracks

There’s a particular joy that comes from an excellent soundtrack accompanying an excellent movie. When the music matches the moment, from The Full Monty to Pulp Fiction to Cool Runnings, we experience a moment of aesthetic contentment.

But what about when the soundtrack is infinitely superior to the film? Buying soundtracks is often a great musical choice, because you get songs from a variety of artists – but what if the film they accompany was mediocre? Or worse still, one you’d never consider (or admit to) watching in a million years?

Here are a few that deserve to be placed in brown paper covers, or filed in itunes under a different name:

The ok-movie-Kickass soundtracks:

10 – About a Boy is a feelgood romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant (how very surprising, I hear you gasp), with a lovely script. It’s one of those films you enjoy, but can’t really remember. “It’s that one with Hugh Grant”, you might say. “And that phenomenally good soundtrack”, you might add. Badly Drawn Boy’s soundtrack is full of songs that stay with you. The film’s writer, author Nick Hornby, listed “A Minor Incident” as one of the songs that changed his life.

9 – Cruel Intentions is a surprisingly good movie, remaking Dangerous Liaisons as a teenage thriller, and possibly the highlight of Ryan Phillipe’s career. But from the first notes of “Bittersweet Symphony”, this soundtrack will wrap you around its little finger, convince you this is the order these songs were ordained by nature to be in, and demand to be played over and over.

8 – The Mission is undoubtedly a good film: a stirring drama, an excellent experience. But it’s not the kind of film you’re likely to watch more than once. Ennio Morricone’s luscious soundtrack, however, is something you may well find yourself listening to on a daily basis, and falling in love with all over again each time you do.

7 – Queen of the Damned is a vampire movie from the time before vampires sparkled. Panned by critics, but still successful at the Box Office. Anne Rice was ambivalent about the film, but there is nothing to be ambivalent about as far as the soundtrack goes. Written by Richard Gibbs and Korn’s Jonathan Davis, and featuring artists like Marilyn Manson, Deftones, Papa Roach, and Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, the soundtrack is a visceral experience.

6 – Garden State is another of those pleasant enough romantic comedies, written by, directed by and starring Zach Braff. Possibly Braff’s greatest achievement, though, was his choice of soundtrack. Highlighting The Shins, and featuring artists like Frou Frou, Nick Drake, and Simon and Garfunkel, this is a soundtrack in which each song will become a friend.

The soundtrack that’s not for kids:

5 – Shrek 2 continues the exploits of everyone’s favourite ogre, donkey, and accented puss. It’s a fun movie, and although the humour borders on the risqué for its target audience, it’s a film that might never be seen by those without offspring. No matter your age, the soundtrack deserves a listen. Frou Frou (again), Counting Crows, Nick Cave and Tom Waits are just a few of the drops of delight that fall from this album, and cast members Antonio Banderas, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Saunders all make mellifluous appearances.


The glorified music video:

4 – Idlewild reminded us once again that not all singers can act. There’s really very little to be said about this film, apart from oh wow, you should listen to that soundtrack. Apart from the always fantastic Outkast, the soundtrack features the vocal talents of Macy Gray, and you should own it.


The movies you didn’t watch, but you should listen to:

3 – High School High is not a film that’s on anyone’s “must watch” list. It’s a distinctly unfunny “comedy”, and a bit of a shambles. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is highly recommended and well worth a listen, with Lil Kim, Method Man, Faith Evans and the most successful song off the album, KZA’s “Wu-wear”.

2 – I am Number 4 was a real disappointment. With a good book at its base it had so much potential, but as things turned out the only thing worth writing home about is the soundtrack. Combining the musical genius of Beck, Adele, Kings of Leon, Jimmy Eat World and more, it’s full of inspiration which was sadly lacking elsewhere in this film.


In a league of its own:

1 – Twilight, the franchise that keeps on giving. Love it or hate it – you’re unlikely to be meh about it – the soundtracks are a sheer delight. From the first film’s smorgasbord of Muse, Linkin Park and Paramore, via Eclipse’s Death Cab for Cutie, Lykke Li, and Thom Yorke through the highlight of New Moon’s Florence and the Machine, Vampire Weekend and Cee-Lo Green to Breaking Dawn’s Iron and Wine and Christina Perri, if there’s one thing these people know (apart from manipulating the hearts and wallets of teenage girls) it’s how to put together a soundtrack.