Top Ten Movie Soundtracks

[In honour of the opening of The Avengers, special correspondent Brent Chittenden offers this list of cool soundtracks.  Why do I have a feeling there will be plenty of comments? – AC]

Along with music and comics, I’m a huge lover of film. Since I switched over to DVD and Blu-ray, I’ve amassed quite a collection for myself and due to the fact that I’m also a big fan of music (hence writing for this site), I’ve also acquired a solid collection of film soundtracks. 

A while ago we listed the best soundtracks to bad movies but this time I’m just listing the best modern rock/alt-rock soundtracks.  Film scores are not included.  We’re looking strictly at the best compilation-style modern rock/alt-rock generation soundtracks.

Ready? Here we go.

10) Where The Wild Things Are


Very overlooked soundtrack but it’s incredibly well put together.  Recorded by Karen O and The Kids (basically the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with members of Dead Weather, Raconteurs and Deerhunter) the soundtrack to Where The Wild Things Are is pretty much an indy pop rock extravaganza.


9) Snatch

Another under the radar soundtrack, Snatch is incredibly well put together and filled with great music. [I’d listen to Guy Ritchie’s iPod, especially now that Madonna is out of the picture. – AC]  Oasis, Massive Attack, The Stranglers and The Specials, it has a little bit of everything on here for the British music connoisseur and the music fits the film perfectly.


8) Repo Man

A mix of punk and punk like music, this was many a person’s first taste of Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks and Black Flag.  The movie isn’t for everyone but everyone should give the soundtrack a listen.


7) (500) Days of Summer

A mixture of indie rock with The Smiths and a dash of Hall and Oates, this soundtrack is a great listen for those lazy days and one of the best soundtracks of the last few years.


6) Pump Up The Volume

For many people, myself included, the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack was a great introduction to the alternative music scene.  Before this soundtrack I hadn’t heard of The Pixies and I knew very little about Sonic Youth.  It was a great primer for a young kid who would be interested in this type of music but never heard it. And it has a great rendition of “Kick Out The Jams” by Henry Rollins and Bad Brains


5) Natural Born Killers

With Trent Reznor producing and sculpting this soundtrack, Natural Born Killers is an audio version of the film. It features music from across generations into a sonic film Where else can you hear Bob Dylan, L&, Dr Dre and Nine Inch Nails on the same album?


4) Judgement Night

When Public Enemy and Anthrax did “Bring The Noise,” it opened up a few doors. Unfortunately one door was the one Limp Bizkit were hiding behind but the other door had this soundtrack for a not particularly good Emilio Estevez movie. Taking the best alternative acts and matching them up with the best from hip hop, there are some really, really good tracks on this album that are also fairly unique. Found on this album and barely to be performed live. Great album.  [Harry Dean Stanton has one of my all-time favourite lines in this movie:  “Look at ’em.  Ordindary people.  I f**kin’ hate them.” -AC]


3) Singles

This made an appearance on our other soundtrack and I still stand by what I said. Singles is not a particularly good movie but the soundtrack is pretty kick ass. If you ever wanted a perfect snapshot of the Seattle grunge scene, this soundtrack is it–well, minus Nirvana but other than that it has everyone from that era of rock.


2) Trainspotting

Trainspotting’s soundtrack is an amazing collection of Brit-pop, electronic with a bit of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop’s Berlin years.  The soundtrack completely fitted the film and sold enough to warrant a second soundtrack. It also gave Iggy Pop’s career a very good public shot in the arm.


1) The Crow

When I was in high school, every single one of my friends had a copy of the album. 18 years later this soundtrack is still amazing. Where Singles focused on grunge, The Crow’s soundtrack was filled with the best bands of alternative rock. The most interesting part for me is not only the quality of bands but how many of them are still putting out good material today; Stone Temple Pilots, Trent Reznor, The Cure Those who aren’t still around still contribute great music to this album.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

11 thoughts on “Top Ten Movie Soundtracks

  • May 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    A good list and seeing as I'm re-encoding my soundtracks at the moment, I'll offer some additional suggestions on good ones:

    Grosse Pointe Blank
    Pulp Fiction

    I loved that scene in Grosse Pointe Blank where Cusack's character walks into the convenience store and Live and Let Die goes from the GnR version to a muzak version.

  • May 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    All are really good suggestions. Pulp Fiction was actually on the list for a little bit but as we wanted to kind of focus on alt-rock, it kind of fell by the wayside as did Purple Rain (which for my money is one of the greatest soundtracks of all time).

    Pi is a soundtrack is one I had completely forgotten about until you mentioned it. Clint Mansell was in one of my favourite bands of all time (Pop Will Eat Itself) and Pi became the first in a long line of soundtracks and scores for him. The newxt soundtrack he did was for Requiem for a Dream and it contains a piece that's used in at least one trailer a year.

    What else have I missed?

  • May 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I used to adore a great movie soundtrack. It was a mixtape without having to make a mixtape! Back in the olden days when I was still grabbing a bunch of CDs for a road trip, I'd always take a long a soundtrack or two for a nicer mix. Nowadays, we all just put a playlist on random.

    I'd put Repo Man higher, because it's a touchstone for me. I remember the exact night in 1985 when I first heard it and my whole perception of music changed in an instant.

    Where The Wild Things Are Soundtrack? Oh brother. I'd put Purple Rain, Rushmore or even the Garden State soundtrack in it's place.

    The Crow is a solid No. 1 but some Beatles fans might disagree.

    Remember when a movie would have so much music, they'd put out a "More Music From" second soundtrack. I think Grosse Point Blank has 2.

  • May 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    The Dazed and Confused soundtrack is a great one. Gems like "Jim Dandy", "Cherry Bomb" and "Fox On The Run" initally had the sound track ringing in higher sales than the movie! There was even a 2nd soundtrack album released.

  • May 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I really like the forrest gump soundtrack as well as the garden state soundtrack

  • May 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Brent – I don't about missed but some others that could make for a round two:

    Brain Candy
    Tank Girl
    Spawn (but I think using Judgement Night already covers that a bit)
    Strange Days

    Brad – It does, as does Hackers and Trainspotting. 🙂

  • May 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I second the opinion of Garden State as a great soundtrack. Also I really liked the soundtrack for Twilight: Eclipse and Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

    Since there's some Trent Reznor already on the list, I won't mention the soundtrack to Lost Highway and I also won't mention the soundtrack for Social Network.

  • May 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    One of my faves, from a lesser known movie but with solid music: Empire Records. Well worth checking out (the soundtrack moreso than the movie).

  • May 2, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    For good alternative soundtracks look to… surprise! Adam Sandler. His movies have surprisingly good musics even if the movies suck. I like Little Nicky the most.

    For instrumental albums, the Ross/Reznor collaboration in The Social Network was very, very strong.

  • May 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    There was a kids' movie called Angus that had a ton of great songs! Some of them were unreleased, and the only place to get them was on this soundtrack. Standouts include:
    – Green Day – J.A.R.
    – The Muffs – Funny Face
    – Weezer – You Gave Your Love to me Softly
    – Love Spit Love – Am I Wrong?
    – Ash – Kung Fu

  • May 3, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Empire Records for sure! Great soundtrack!


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