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The 50 coolest movie soundtracks

What happens if you take something cool and add it to something just as cool? No, not hip algebra, but film soundtracks of course. What, after all, can be cooler than music and film combined?

So, with that in mind, we compiled the 50 Coolest Soundtracks ever (said in best advertising jingle voice). Disagree with our selection or want to pat us on the back for choosing your favourites? You get to have your say below.

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks

    Help! (1965)

    The Beatles weren’t the first band to commit great music to the big screen – just think of the evocative scores for the likes of Gone With The Wind, Psycho, The Magnificent Seven et al. However they were the first band to create an album you’d want to listen to from start to finish, and which could be played without necessarily having seen the film. A Hard Day’s Night was their first foray into the movies and its resulting album could have easily been chosen here. However, we’ve plumped for the following year’s Help!: a mesmeric collection of infectious songs that showcased their burgeoning talents as mature songwriters, not least on You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.

    Key track: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 1

    The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

    When it comes to soundtrack composers, Ennio Morricone is the nonpareil genius. His lush orchestration and unforgettable arrangements have adorned such masterpieces as Cinema Paradiso, Once Upon A Time In America, The Mission and many more besides. But it’s his work on the spate of spaghetti westerns that sprang up in the Sixties – many in conjunction with his fellow Italian countryman Sergio Leone – that set the benchmark. The music on the likes of A Fistful Of Dollars reflected the brutal images onscreen, but it was his score for the final film in The Man With No Name trilogy, that truly transcended its origins. Even those without any interest in Westerns understand the latent menace at the beginning of its main title theme.

    Key track: Il Forte (The Strong)

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 2

    Blow-Up (1966)

    When people speak of Swinging London this soundtrack is what they really mean. Composed by jazz musician Herbie Hancock, the sophisticated grooves complement Michelangelo Antonioni’s dynamic exploration of the mid-Sixties cultural explosion wonderfully. The Yardbirds (featuring both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck) provide a beat boom counterpoint to Hancock’s hip jazz sounds with Stroll On, but it’s the fluidity of Hancock’s music that is most memorable. Bring Down The Birds was sampled to grand effect by Deee-Lite for their classic Groove Is In The Heart single.

    Key track: Bring Down The Birds

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 3

    The Jungle Book (1967)

    Thanks to their Oscar-winning work on The Sound of Music, American songwriting duo The Sherman Brothers were household names before The Jungle Book. However, the manner in which they soundtracked Rudyard Kipling’s evergreen story – imbued it with a sense of child-like wonder and naiveté – cemented their reputation. Although they didn’t pen The Bare Necessities (that was Terry Gilkyson, and arranged by future Beach Boys avant-pop collaborator Van Dyke Parks), their writing on I Wan’na Be Like You, That’s What Friends Are For and My Own Home reflected the colourful mood of the late Sixties.

    Key track: The Bare Necessities

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 4

    Head (1968)

    Despite being savaged by critics at the time, The Monkees’ solitary adventure into feature films is regarded as something of a cult classic today. Its lurid and bizarre script is reflected by the soundtrack that accompanied it. No longer pliable pop puppets, Head demonstrated that The Monkees had real musical chops. Porpoise Song is the equal of anything that Buffalo Springfield, The Lovin’ Spoonful and co released at the time, while the playful Daddy’s Song (written by Harry Nilsson) and the reflective As We Go Along went onto influence the likes of The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev and other practitioners of cosmic Americana.

    Key track: Porpoise Song

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 5

    The Graduate (1968)

    While editing this era-defining tale of corrupted love, director Mike Nichols and editor Sam O’Steen used Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence against a number of key scenes. When they decided they couldn’t relinquish the song, they commissioned the celebrated folk duo to compose the rest of the soundtrack. Containing the bittersweet ode to lost innocence, Mrs Robinson, and the haunting Scarborough Fair, it was an instant hit, and remains a well-thumbed choice for cynical romantics today.

    Key track: The Sound Of Silence

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 6

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

    Although employing classical music in films is today considered an established alternative to composing a bespoke score, in 1968 it wasn’t. Indeed many classical conductors thought the practice grubby and commercial. Director Stanley Kubrick was undeterred, however, and his use of Johann Strauss II’s Blue Danube Waltz for the docking/landing sequence and the start of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra for the film’s unforgettable opening were both magical and inspired. That the soundtrack turned many onto the soul-enriching joys of classical music is without argument.

    Key track: Also Sprach Zarathustra

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 7

    Easy Rider (1969)

    Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s countercultural gem channelled the spirit of rock’n’roll onto the big screen. As such, the soundtrack had to be spot on. It was. From Steppenwolf’s masterly hymn to free-spirited adventure, Born To Be Wild to Roger McGuinn’s closing, Dylan-fuelled twosome, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) and Ballad Of The Easy Rider, the album was considered ground-breaking. Also features Jimi Hendrix, The Electric Prunes and Smith’s version of The Band classic, The Weight. An album that captured the innovative mood of the times, but one that still speaks to rock disciples today.

    Key track: Born To Be Wild

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 8

    Midnight Cowboy (1969)

    John Schlesinger’s magnum opus might be X-rated (although that said more about sexually stunted and homophobic Hollywood than anything else), but its soundtrack is anything but. Using James Bond composer John Barry alongside contemporary songs was a masterstroke. Barry’s titular theme tune is a stunning piece of music: delicate, profound, moving. And Harry Nilsson’s version of Fred Neil’s Everybody’s Talkin’ still reverberates in the pantheon of cool. A compelling and majestic soundtrack.

    Key track: Everybody’s Talkin’

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 9

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

    The sixth James Bond adventure was a departure in many respects. The first without Sean Connery as 007, it also saw composer John Barry strike out into unchartered sonic waters. His score for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was one of the first to make use of the new technology afforded musicians in the shape of synthesisers. His redolent theme was as assured as it was novel and remains a touchstone of instrumental music. The rest of the album is equally grand, but special mention must be made of Louis Armstrong’s parting shot to music, We Have All The Time In The World.

    Key track: We Have All The Time In The World

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 10

    Performance (1970)

    Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg dystopic Performance was viewed as a key signifier in the death of the Sixties dream. The soundtrack – all lascivious malevolence and seditious cool – sounded like a wonderful way to dance on the grave of flower power idealism. Mick Jagger’s swaggering Memo From Turner naturally takes most of the plaudits, but with key contributions from Randy Newman, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ry Cooder, Jack Nitzsche and proto rappers The Last Poets, this was by far not a one-man show. Deranged decadence never sounded so alluring.

    Key track: Memo From Turner

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 11

    Shaft (1971)

    It goes without saying that the Blaxploitation movies that appeared in the early Seventies should be accompanied by a mixture of thrilling soul, funk and R&B (as was) flavours. Alongside Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly and Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Isaac Hayes’s soundtrack for Shaft was one of the best. An ambitious double-album, it featured jazz-inspired jams (particularly the epic Do Your Thing), pounding beats and, in its title track, one of the most memorable songs of all time. Damn right.

    Key track: Theme From Shaft

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 12

    Super Fly (1972)

    Shaft might have come first, but Super Fly, as the title suggests, was the coolest album to emerge from the Blaxploitation explosion. Where Shaft mirrored a traditional soundtrack in many respects, Super Fly could easily be seen as a stand-alone album. A biting slice of social commentary set to some of the funkiest and soulful music ever committed to wax – see the title track and Pusherman Super Fly was one of the most influential records of the decade and elevated the film into a must-watch category in the process.

    Key track: Super Fly

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 13

    A Clockwork Orange (1972)

    Kubrick had already toyed with conventions with his use of classical music in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In A Clockwork Orange he destroyed the perceived sanctity of classical music altogether. Onscreen Kubrick brought Anthony Burgess’s violent novel to alarming life, while soundtracking such images with the works of Elgar, Beethoven and Rossini. This dichotomy reached its apex with the contrasting mood of Singin’ In The Rain while ultra-violence and rape unfolds. Startling stuff.

    Key track: Singin’ In The Rain

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 14

    The Harder They Come (1972)

    Much like The Beatles’ Help! and Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly, The Harder They Come is an album that exists as a classic record even without the film it accompanied. Along with the emergence of Bob Marley at roughly the same time, this soundtrack – five glorious tracks from the film’s star Jimmy Cliff, including the title song and You Can Get It If You Really Want, plus contributions from the likes of Toots & The Maytals and Desmond Dekker – helped popularise the joyous strains of reggae on a global stage.

    Key track: You Can Get It If You Really Want

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 15

    Enter The Dragon (1973)

    Thanks to the funk-laden beats, wah-wah guitars and horns and brass, Lalo Schifrin’s score for Bruce Lee’s final film is unquestionably of its time. But that is no bad thing such is its scene-setting mood. And that’s what Schifrin, already hailed for his iconic Mission: Impossible theme tune and Bullitt soundtrack, was a master of: mood. His emotive use of instrumentation placed him squarely alongside Morricone. And taken over a whole album, it’s his work on Enter The Dragon that surpasses all others. It was also a key record in the downbeat, trip hop movement of the Nineties.

    Key track: Theme From Enter The Dragon

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 16

    Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

    Whatever you say about Bob Dylan’s acting in Sam Peckinpah’s suitably blood-drenched retelling of Billy The Kid (we find it kind of charming, since you ask), his soundtrack can surely brook no argument. His raw, roughly sketched songs border on the ramshackle, but in doing so they evoke the sun-scorched, dusty plains of the West marvellously. That it contains the elegiac Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door raises the collection of songs to the sublime.

    Key track: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 17

    American Graffiti (1973)

    Although including 41 classic tracks from the birth of rock’n’roll – for a film depicting a similar period – might seem something of a no-brainer, in 1973, and despite the success of Easy Rider’s soundtrack, it was still considered a bold move. Unsurprisingly, the music – ranging from Bill Haley & His Comets and Fats Domino to Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly – added an extra layer of authenticity for George Lucas’s acclaimed film. The music captures the baby boomers teenage exploits perfectly and still sounds fantastic.

    Key track: Rock Around The Clock

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 18

    Taxi Driver (1976)

    Nearly 40 years after his death, Bernard Herrmann remains one of the most respected soundtrack composers. His work on the Hitchcock classics Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest, as well as his scores for Citizen Kane, Cape Fear and Twisted Nerve, elevated him to legendary status. But it was his last soundtrack, the dark and brooding jazz-inflected score for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver that was the coolest.

    Key track: Main Title

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 19

    Saturday Night Fever (1977)

    There are certain rock snobs who deride disco with a passion usually reserved for following football. These people are idiots. Disco is quite possibly the most life-affirming music made to known man, woman and child. And this revelatory soundtrack – much like the John Travolta-starring film itself - captures that essence wonderfully. The Bee Gees contributions are joyous, while the likes of Yvonne Ellman, The Trammps, M.F.S.B. and Tavares all stand out. Not only one of the best soundtracks of all-time, this is one of the best albums ever.

    Key track: Stayin' Alive

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 20

    Quadrophenia (1979)

    Upon its release in 1973 The Who’s second rock opera, following Tommy, was rightly hailed as a masterpiece. The film that followed six years later is possibly the archtypal youth culture movie. The soundtrack took 10 songs from the Quadrophenia album, added three new Who songs, and complemented them with seven definitive soul/R&B mod tracks from the likes of James Brown and The Ronettes. It also features The Who’s first single, when they were still called The High Numbers: the impossibly mod-friendly Zoot Suit.

    Key track: Love Reign O’er Me

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 21

    The Blues Brothers (1980)

    Much like the film from which it hails, The Blues Brothers soundtrack is a riotous blues-infused romp. Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood’s (Dan Aykroyd) covers of Gimme Some Lovin’, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and Sweet Home Chicago are supplemented by blistering performances from James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway. If it encouraged a generation to discover the likes of John Lee Hooker and Wilson Pickett then its wondrous nature is only amplified.

    Key track: Gimme Some Lovin'

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 22

    Escape From New York (1981)

    Not only is John Carpenter quite rightly feted for his filmmaking skills, but he’s also a dab hand at composing the soundtracks for his films. Having served notice of his talents on Halloween, he created an even more dynamic suite of music for Escape From New York. Decidedly futuristic – for 1981 – his use of synthesisers was exemplary in establishing the film’s moods. The simple, repetitive textures employed by Carpenter were a key influence upon the likes of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada.

    Key track: Main Title

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 23

    Blade Runner (1982)

    Sometimes a film’s music is so integral to the piece that it becomes impossible to divorce the two. And so it is with Vangelis’s stunning music to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The stark and chilling mood of this dystopic sci-fi classic is embellished by Vangelis’s (already acclaimed for his work on Chariots Of Fire) eerie synth-led ambience. Although not released until 1994 – 12 years after the film was first shown – the album has garnered a cult audience of its own.

    Key track: Rachel's Song

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 24

    Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983)

    Ryuchi Sakamoto was already a legend in esoteric music circles when he came to act in and compose the music for Nagisa Oshima’s unforgettable Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. After his work on the film – in particular his haunting and beautiful piano-led title theme – the erstwhile member of Japanese electronic avatars Yellow Magic Orchestra crossed over into mainstream circles. The aforementioned title theme quickly became a chill-out classic, while a version with vocals added by Japan singer David Sylvian, Forbidden Colours, made the charts.

    Key track: Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 25

    Wild Style (1983)

    Capturing the early days of hip hop when turntablism, graffiti art, MCing and breakdancing all coalesced to form this dynamic and vibrant new youth culture, Wild Style is not only an exciting cultural document, but an enthusiastic historical one too. Featuring music from early pioneers DJ Grand Wizard Theodore, The Cold Crush Brothers, Double Trouble and Busy Bee, the soundtrack oozes a youthful vitality and determination.

    Key track: Subway Theme

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 26

    Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

    Everything about the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack is unapologetically of its time. Big, bold and glossy and steeped in the mid-Eighties preference for an alluring disco-pop-rock hybrid, the likes of The Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Shalamar and, curiously enough, former Eagle Glenn Frey all proffered varying takes on this exuberant template. The most recognizable track, however, remains Harold Faltermeyer’s pivotal main theme, Axel F. Just don’t mention the Crazy Frog version. Certainly not cool.

    Key track: Axel F

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 27

    Purple Rain (1984)

    Such is Purple Rain’s stature – it’s widely regarded as one of the best albums in musical history – it’s easy to forget that it’s a soundtrack. Conceived as another vehicle for multi-talented Prince, the music contained in the film is some of the most dazzling and daring of the Purple One’s career. Which, given, his canon of albums is saying something. Touching upon everything from pop, rock, R’n’B to soul, funk and dance music, plus laced with an almost Technicolor psychedelia, the likes of Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With You, When Doves Cry and the title track are among the most cherished in history.

    Key track: When Doves Cry

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 28

    Pretty In Pink (1986)

    John Hughes pretty much defined the Eighties teen experience with his films The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink. Unsurprisingly, music played a central role in all. It’s the latter film that captured the music of the mid-Eighties most eloquently. Not only did it feature The Psychedelic Furs’ title track – and inspiration for the film - but alongside it were new wave/indie classics from the likes of New Order, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

    Key track: Shellshock

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 29

    Stand By Me (1986)

    Stand By Me is one of Hollywood’s finest coming of age movies. Set in 1959, the music reflects this period – so what we experience is a raft of early rock’n’roll and, most notably in Ben E. King’s title song, soul. Evoking a time of hope, fear and innocence can often lapse into trite sentimentality, but it’s to the credit of the soundtrack’s compilers that much like the film itself, the music sidesteps this majestically. Thanks to its success upon the film’s release in 1986, Ben E. King’s standard is now a byword for the unique friendships only forged in childhood.

    Key track: Stand By Me

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 30

    Betty Blue (1986)

    Although it seems to have fallen from favour recently, Betty Blue was one of the coolest films of the Eighties. Despite the film’s intensity, the excellent music is far more composed. Effortlessly evoking summer languor, the soundtrack’s music – composed by acclaimed Lebanese musician Gabriel Yared – touches upon jazz, post-rock, orchestral touches and traditional French folk music. Throughout a crepuscular mood is maintained that is by turns melancholic and uplifting, but always hip.

    Key track: Comme Les Deux Doigts De La Main

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 31

    Reservoir Dogs (1992)

    Quentin Tarantino not only breathed new life into filmmaking, but the entire cinema-going experience. This meant placing the soundtrack at the heart of his first film, the unrelenting Reservoir Dogs. Fully conversant in the shifting scriptures of cool, he cherry picked long forgotten classics – like Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle Of You and Joe Tex’s I Gotcha – and utilised them as a counterpoint to the orgy of onscreen violence. And while everyone quotes the Stealers Wheel/ear cutting scene, Tarantino’s uncanny knack with a tune was first demonstrated in the opening credit sequence when the suited hoodlums stride memorably down the street to George Baker Selection’s Little Green Bag.

    Key track: Stuck In The Middle Of You

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 32

    Singles (1992)

    It’s funny how soundtracks have helped crystallise a new youth cult/musical movement in the eyes of the wider listening populace. Both The Harder They Come and Saturday Night Fever shaped the idea of reggae and disco. And so it was with grunge and Singles. Granted, Nirvana had already exploded by the release of Cameron Crowe’s hymn to the music scene of his hometown of Seattle, but this superb soundtrack gave grunge that final push. Featuring Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and the first solo recordings from Paul Westerberg, this is an ace primer for the music (and fashion) that was inescapable in the early Nineties.

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 33

    Judgment Night (1993)

    Judgment Night the film was nothing more than a moderate gangster-lite flick. Judgment Night the soundtrack was one of the most innovative albums of the Nineties. The premise was simple: pair hip hop artists with rock/indie bands and see what happens. In the case of the Teenage Fanclub/De La Soul collaboration, Fallin’, it was laidback sunshine-speckled grandeur. The Sonic Youth/Cypress Hill and Dinosaur Jr/Del tha Funkee Homosapien hook ups were equally memorable. An incredibly cool and important soundtrack.

    Key track: Fallin'

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 34

    Dazed And Confused (1993)

    As befits a film that takes place on the last day of high school and in which the central characters state that securing Aerosmith tickets to be the top priority of the summer, Dazed And Confused is a quintessential rock’n’roll movie. Fittingly, the soundtrack rocks. The tracklisting alone tells you this is an unmistakeably American jam – Low Rider, Slow Ride – but this is music that recalls the infectious spirit of youth, whatever the backdrop.

    Key track: Sweet Emotion

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 35

    Pulp Fiction (1994)

    The soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs edged the door open, but Pulp Fiction blew it off its hinges. A stunning collection of lost classics (Misirlou by Dick Dale & His Del-Tones), forgotten gems (Kool & The Gang’s Jungle Boogie) and evergreen masterpieces (Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man and Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together), this was another idiosyncratic selection from Quentin Tarantino, but one that displayed his firm grasp of the outer reaches of pop culture. Dynamite.

    Key track: Misirlou

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 36

    Kids (1995)

    Larry Clark and Harmony Korine’s deliberately provocative film caused a right stink upon release in 1995. And while its depiction of Manhattan teenagers having underage (and unprotected) sex and ingesting drugs was highly stylised, the film’s soundtrack definitely caught the lo-fi, experimental spirit of the time. Folk Implosion contributed the lion’s share of songs and their cut and paste hip hop-and-indie rock template set the standard. Nihilistic post rock was provided by Slint, while Daniel Johnston and Sebadoh made this one of the must-have records of the time.

    Key track: Natural One

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 37

    Trainspotting (1996)

    Because it was released at the height of Britpop, Trainspotting – the film and its attendant soundtrack – is often referred to in such restrictive terms. Which is a shame because it’s much closer to the adventurous acid house era or the boisterous nature of punk. Whichever way you want to look at it though, it’s a magical collection of songs, from the aforementioned dance and punk scenes (Underworld, Leftfield and Iggy Pop) and the crème de la crème of British indie music – New Order, Blur, Primal Scream and Pulp. With Brian Eno and Lou Reed added to the mix, it’s unsurprising that the album is still a cherished listen.

    Key track: Lust For Life

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 38

    Jackie Brown (1998)

    Although no-one else gets two mentions here it would be churlish to deny Quentin Tarantino a second bite. In truth, even when his films disappoint (Kill Bill 2 for instance), the soundtracks are still of the highest quality. Pulp Fiction could have clearly been chosen, but when it comes down to it Jackie Brown’s choice of songs is just stronger. Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street sets the tone perfectly and this is followed by the disparate likes of Johnny Cash, Bill Withers, The Delfonics and Foxy Brown. Another soundtrack that bears up to repeated listening.

    Key track: Across 110th Street

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 39

    The Virgin Suicides (2000)

    Following the success of their debut album, Moon Safari, music lovers were desperate for another Air record. That it came via the soundtrack for Sofia Coppola’s first feature-length film might have disappointed some at first, but after one listen to Air’s blissfully enigmatic score those gripes were immediately alleviated. A wonderfully experimental record, Air’s subtle sounds glide from hazy downtempo stylings to electronic soundscapes without ever missing a beat. Another soundtrack that doesn’t need any notice of the film to be appreciated.

    Key track: Playground Love

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 40

    O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

    Prior to the release of The Coen Brothers’ eighth film there was more chance of Lord Lucan riding back into town on Shergar than a fully-fledged bluegrass revival. But after O Brother, Where Are Thou? hit cinema screens, the public couldn’t get enough of this indigenous American folk music. The soundtrack, produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett, was an instant hit and the likes of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch and Emmy Lou Harris all saw an upturn in their careers. A fascinating and fantastic soundtrack.

    Key track: I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 41

    The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

    Wes Anderson’s films have all been accompanied by superlative soundtracks, so we could have easily plumped for, say, Rushmore or The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. But in terms of synergy, The Royal Tenenbaums trumps the lot. Featuring The Clash, Paul Simon, Nico, Elliot Smith, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground and a score composed by long-time Anderson cohort Mark (Devo) Mothersbaugh, this is wonderful stuff. A magical listen that conjures up the film, but can still stand alone.

    Key track: These Days

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 42

    Hedwig And The Angry Inch (2001)

    Every record collection needs adorning with some flamboyant show tunes. This gloriously OTT soundtrack from the equally colourful film is perfect for such requirements. The film – a cult hit - revolves around an East German transgender singer who pens songs with an aspiring American singer-songwriter called Tommy Speck but is quickly forgotten when Tommy achieves stardom. The music is firmly located in the glam rock territory and is a joyous romp through delicious decadence.

    Key track: The Origin Of Love

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 43

    24 Hour Party People (2002)

    A film about the rise and fall of the Manchester music scene of the late Seventies through to the early Nineties could have been an unmitigated disaster, but it would always have a first class soundtrack. Thankfully, as well as a collection of songs that stand up against any ever recorded, the film was special too. But this is all about the music. Punk, post-punk, electro, acid house and indie-dance are all included from the likes of Joy Division, The Clash, New Order, Happy Mondays and A Guy Called Gerald. Without doubt one of the best soundtracks ever compiled.

    Key track: Voodoo Ray

  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 44

    Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)

    With Warp Films behind Shane Meadow’s masterly and disturbing thriller, it was no surprise that the soundtrack should be equally phenomenal. Touching upon electronica, folk, hip hop, techno, alt-country and folktronica, it’s a measured and thrillingly diverse listen. Highlights come from Adem, DM & Jemini, The Earlies and perhaps predictably, Aphex Twin. An alternative take on the mid-Noughties music scene and all the better for it.

    Key track: The Only One

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 45

    There Will Be Blood (2007)

    As anyone who’s ever seen Radiohead live will attest, guitarist Jonny Greenwood is one of the most inventive musicians of his generation. But even his livewire electronic antics did little to prepare people for his soundtrack to the awesome There Will Be Blood. A sparse and haunting accompaniment to Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically acclaimed film, it is a profound and moving orchestral delight.

    Key track: Oil

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 46

    Tron: Legacy (2010)

    In many respects Daft Punk had been leading up to this one for years. Their futuristic robotic imagery and sci-fi musical landscapes made complete sense in this environment. Taking their nomincal electronic music template and then infusing it with an orchestral grandeur the result was a sparkling, neon-clad, delight. It might not have been full of dancefloor slayers, but it certainly displayed a wondrous versatility to the duo. One that should see them score soundtracks for years to come.

    Key track: The Game Has Changed

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 47

    Drive (2011)

    Drive was the coolest thing to appear on the big screen last year and it had a soundtrack to match. A suitably modish collection of electronic pop, the icy synths and cold, emotionless Eighties-aping textures reflected the mood of the film. The music was mostly composed by Cliff Martinez, implausibly a one-time drummer with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but featured the polar cool Kavinsky, Chromatics, Desire and College. In many respects the soundtrack is as cool as the film itself.

    Key track: Under Your Spell

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 48

    Inside Llewyn Davis (2014)

    The film that announced Oscar Isaac as a star, Inside Llewyn Davis was a charming mood piece with a soundtrack as important as any of the actors. Mixing the warm folk stylings of Marcus Mumford (never better than here) and classic West Village tracks along with music arranged by T-Bone Burnett, who had previously worked with the Coen Brothers on the also very good O Brother Where Art Thou?

    Key track: Hang Me, Oh Hang Me

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  • The 50 coolest movie soundtracks 49

    La La Land (2017)

    Possibly racist undertones aside, the music to La La Land is – as you would expect for a musical – already being lauded as a classic; jaunty numbers and slowies right out of Classic Hollywood that you’ll want to want to whack your wing-tips on to and dance over the blinky city skyline. 

    Key track: Another Day of Sun

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