50 of the Best Movie Soundtracks

Don’t just watch it, sing it!

Words by Deanna Janes


Not to be confused with the score of a film (an original rhythmic melody that sets the tone for the narrative), a movie’s soundtrack is just as important. A curation of lyrical tunes, some you may know (like the ’90s sonic dreams featured in the next great teen movie Do Revenge), some that are written solely for the film (like Rihanna’s breathtaking track for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), the soundtrack, curated by a film’s music director, creates a vibe for the movie and tells its own story over the course of several tracks. And when done supremely, it has the ability to latch onto our nostalgic heartstrings and live rent-free in our minds and on our playlists—forever. Ahead, 50 soundtracks that do just that.


In the Heights

If sunshine had a sound, it would be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s joyous 17-track song book. Crafted with some of the original Broadway show’s favorites and one newbie written just for the film (“Home All Summer”), the soundtrack is as vibrant as the film’s sun-washed visuals and infectious dance numbers. Pivoting around main character Usnavi, a Dominican bodega owner who dreams of a better life, the story is propelled by the soundtrack’s electric beats, inspired lyrics, and blend of genres from hip-hop and rap to Latino and Broadway ballad. Just try not to sing along.




Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac is having a monster year. Not only is he the first Latino to shoulder a central role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (see: Moon Knight), but he also secured his very first Emmy nomination (re: Scenes from a Marriage). Of course, expertly straddling the line of mega franchise and emotional drama only scratches the threshold of what the actor can do. Have you heard him sing? A collaboration backed by T Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford, the soundtrack is actually performed by the film’s cast, with Isaac singing more than half of the track list. The result is a brooding and melancholic listening session that will get you all in your feelings, in a good way.



Lady Bird

Situated at the elusive intersection of painful, hilarious, and heartwarming, the story of Greta Gerwig’s Sacramento high schooler with East Coast college dreams is peak relatable cinema. Adding to its texture, her soundtrack full of angsty rock and pop wonders is written right into the narrative. Which is why Gerwig wrote personal letters to the artists featured in her film, fangirling over them while also asking for their permission to use their songs. Lucky for us, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, and Justin Timberlake all said yes.


Licorice Pizza

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’70s-era film about a 20-something woman who may or may not fall for a kid in high school, became quite the controversial dish after it released on Christmas Day of 2021. But there’s no debating the quality of the highly resonant soundtrack, curated by the film’s helmer. Dipping into iconic tracks by Nina Simone, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, The Doors, and many others, Anderson serves up a rich slice of nostalgia, the tracks as eclectic as the film’s title yet aligned in a singular purpose: to make you feel something. Goal accomplished.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

A stellar achievement for cinema, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was boosted even higher by its two dynamic leads: Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Not only did Davis completely transform into the Mother of Blues for the role, but Boseman actually learned to play the trumpet for an authentic performance that will go down in the books (this film would also make for the actor’s swan song, as he sadly passed away shortly after filming). Branford Marsalis’s soundtrack—soulful, bluesy, and jazzy—is a tribute to the “transgressive nature of the blues” and a portal that leads straight back to 1920s Chicago. In other words, it’s a mood.

Promising Young Woman

Oscillating between empowering pop bangers and fiery rage anthems, the female-dominated soundtrack for Emerald Fennell’s neon-drenched directorial debut is composed of 16 tracks (Charlie XCX, Maya B, Paris Hilton, to name a few) that should really be the catalyst for a brand new subgenre: Power pop, perhaps? Music supervisor Susan Jacobs’s lineup goes way deeper than just playlist inspo, though; it serves as clever subtext while sonically illustrating the inner dialogue of the film’s protag, Cassie, a cynical barista by day, a relentless MeToo vigilante by moonlight.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie, a triumph of martial arts and MCU diversity, gets high marks for its performances, special effects, and Kung Fu mastery, but mind if we just draw your attention to the film’s soundtrack for a hot sec? Featuring instant hits by DJ Snake, Rick Ross, Swae Lee, and Saweetie, the track list also celebrates the sounds of several award-winning and emerging Asian and Asian-American artists the globe over. NIKI, Rich Brian, JJ Lin, Warren Hue, and Audrey Nuna are just a few you’ll soon have on repeat.

Summer of Soul

In 1969, musical legends like Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, and B.B. King took the stage for the Harlem Cultural Festival, celebrating Black history, pride, culture, and fashion. It wouldn’t be until the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, however, that the rest of the world would finally get a front-row seat to the action. Revived and restored by debut director Questlove and his team, Summer of Soul

is a superb concert film rooted in cultural significance–and ripe with some of the best music in the history of music.

The Harder They Fall

Music in film usually goes one of two ways: It can either pull from existing catalogs, or it can emerge fresh from the studio. With the musical heavyweights backing this Netflix Original, no doubt The Harder They Fall took the latter route. Directed by British singer-songwriter Jeymes Samuel (also the brother of Seal) and executive produced by Jay-Z, the film has soul, hip-hop, and R&B in its DNA. Plus, the whole saga plays out like a visual album, with each track from Lauryn Hill, Koffee, Seal, and others perfectly timed to the action.

The Worst Person in the World

Full disclosure: We do not speak Norwegian. But talk to us through Billie Holiday, Art Garfunkel, and Cobra Moon, and a conversation we can have. Joachim Trier does just that with his Oscar-nominated film, a deep-dive into rudderless relationships starring a stellar Renate Reinsve. A genius amalgamation of contemporary and classic genres, pop ballads and disco tunes, moody sounds and joyful choruses, Trier’s soundtrack is more than just music: It’s one woman’s story of self-discovery.

Dirty Dancing

The musical team behind the naughty little romance drama that rocked the Bible Belt back in the ’80s had a good understanding that the only way to truly get your freak on is to do so as a silky soundtrack sets the mood. Featuring a discography ranging from soulful hits (Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine”) to a Patrick Swayze original (“She’s Like the Wind”), the album set up shop at the number one spot on Billboard’s chart for months—and remains a heap topper for anyone who can’t get enough of Johnny and Baby having the time of their lives.

The Bodyguard

Yes, the on-screen romance between Bodyguard

leads Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner is palpable. And, sure, the film, though choking on melodramatic goo at times, is a nostalgic and fun re-watch. But the soundtrack is pure honey. Heavily featuring the vocal gymnastics of one of the greatest singers of all time, Miss Houston (“I Will Always Love You,” “I Have Nothing,” “Run to You”), and a few others (Joe Cocker’s “Trust in Me,” Lisa Stanfield’s “Someday (I’m Coming Back)”), The Bodyguard soundtrack is the biggest reason to hit play on this 1992 romantic thriller.

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A Star Is Born

Director and star of the contemporary remake of the enduring musical, A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper had never sung before he took the stage as heartland singer Jackson Maine. Luckily, he recruited some very talented musicians to curate the film’s soundtrack, a mash of blues, country, folk rock, pop, and now an Oscar hit (“Shallow”). Not only did Cooper share the mic with mega pop star Lady Gaga, who wrote and performed much of the soundtrack, but also Americana artist Jason Isbell supplied lyrics for one of Jackson’s greatest hits, “Maybe It’s Time.”

Waiting to Exhale

Babyface (real name: Kenneth Edmonds) took the lead on the soundtrack for the 1995 film starring a foursome who will forever define the era: Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon. A songwriter whose lyrics have been sung by industry greats including Beyoncé and Luther Vandross, Babyface used this opportunity to merge decades of legendary tonsils into one standout listening experience: Aretha FranklinPatti LaBelleToni BraxtonBrandy, and, of course, Whitney herself all share the mic for this “shooping” 16-track album.


The soundtrack for 1997’s Selena only flirts with the true essence of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the Queen of Tejano Music and the beloved 23-year-old singer who was tragically ripped from this earth beyond way too soon. Played by Jennifer Lopez on the big screen, Selena crossed over into pop with mega hits including “Dreaming of You” and “I Could Fall in Love.” Those nostalgic gems are here, and more, but the only way to truly appreciate the superstar is to follow this English language-heavy soundtrack with hits from Selena’s solid-gold Latin discography.

Purple Rain

Dearly beloved, give us Prince and make it rain. The artist’s Purple Rain album, the first compilation to feature his band, The Revolution, was also the soundtrack to the same-name 1984 film and solidified the late Prince as the musical genius we continue to celebrate today. Hits here include “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “When Doves Cry,” and, of course, the Princè de résistance, “Purple Rain.” An eight-minute opus, “Purple Rain” is one of the “most affecting blues soul laments ever recorded.”

The Graduate

Mike Nichols enlisted Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft to tell his story about a recent grad falling in lust with his girlfriend’s mom. But also on the roll call were New York folk-pop duo Simon & Garfunkel, whose well-known interludes worked in perfect symbiosis with Nichols’s affecting narrative. From “Mrs. Robinson” to “The Sound of Silence,” it’s simply impossible to think of The Graduate without at least getting wistful over the film’s melancholic sound that defined ’60s youth.

Black Panther

Ryan Coogler’s record-breaking Marvel feat, Black Panther, was just as stacked behind the scenes as it was on the screen. Blasting star power through the speakers, its soundtrack was coproduced by multi-Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar, who curated a list of tracks that blends comic book politics with those of the real world to seamless effect. Featuring socially motivated hip-hop from Lamar himself, as well as rap heavyweights SZA2 ChainzFuture, and others, the album is balanced out by pop’s Khalid and R&B’s Jorja Smith, giving Wakanda the epic soundscape it deserves.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Ethereal, brilliant, even cryptic, the original soundtrack for the reimagined Spider-Man installment is the perfect complement to the film’s multidimensional narrative. Compiled with hip-hop, reggaeton, and low-key rap from well-established artists including Post Malone and Swae Lee (“Sunflower”), Nicki Minaj (“Familia”), DJ Khalil (“Elevate”), and Blackway & Black Caviar (“What’s Up Danger”), the hits—like the film’s jolts of white-knuckle action—just keep comin’.

Marie Antoinette

If a film’s essence could be summed up in a playlist, Sofia Coppola’s historically reimagined Marie Antoinette, which juxtaposes a punk attitude with a palette of millennial pinks and pretty pastels, would be a new-wave rock-and-roll punk dream. By infusing her period-piece narrative with tracks like Bow Wow Wow’s “Aphrodisiac,” The Strokes’ “What Ever Happened?” and Siouxsie and The Banshees’ “Hong Kong Garden,” there’s a rebellious streak running through this 2006 gem that teens from any time period can relate to. History be damned when the music is this good.

High Fidelity

It’s takes truly refined skill to take a completely unrelated score of various artists, load them all onto the same record, and then watch decades later as their musical contributions write a legacy of their own. And that’s just what Stephen Frears and his team behind the High Fidelity mixtape have done. Bouncing from one genre to the next, blending decades into a seamless, timeless escape, The Velvet Underground (“Oh! Sweet Nuthin”), Bob Dylan (“Most of the Time”), and even Jack Black (“Let’s Get It On”) make hella-good use of a 15-song soundtrack.

Death Proof

An expertly curated hodgepodge of obscure tunes just waiting to become your new go-to jams, the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s cult-favorite grindhouse thriller is better than Zoe the Cat clinging to the hood of a hurling Dodge Challenger in the third act of the film (watch this if you don’t know what we’re referencing). Look, we understand that some read this and swear by the music in Pulp Fiction, while others will tout the tunes in Reservoir Dogs. But for us, it’s Death Proof’s “Chick Habit” and “Down in Mexico” until we die.

Reality Bites

Ben Stiller made his directorial debut with an off-genre romantic comedy that perfectly captured Gen X in all its grunge-slacker gloriousness. About a group of friends grappling with adulthood post-college, it’s the ’90s time capsule we want to be buried in. Just as the cast’s wardrobe of florals and flannels are in tune with the decade, so, too, is the film’s alt-rock, contemporary soundtrack brimming with favorites both forgotten (Dinosaur Jr.’s “Turnip Farm,” The Juliana Hatfield Three’s “Spin the Bottle”) and forever treasured (Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” Big Mountain’s “Baby I Love Your Way.

Call Me by Your Name

While you wait for the CMBYN sequel, relive the heartbreak that is young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his forbidden first love, Oliver (Armie Hammer), one beautiful, sorrowful track at a time. From singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’s contributions, including his Oscar- and Grammy-nominated “Mystery of Love,” to The Psychedelic Furs’ anthem “Love My Way,” to several classical pieces from the likes of John Adams, Erik Satie, and Maurice Ravel, you’ll feel more cultured just having hit play. Peach not included.


Lin Manuel-Miranda stepped off the stage of Hamilton and into the world of Disney when he signed on to produce the music for what many call the House of Mouse’s “most perfect film.” We have to assume that superlative is referring not only to the animated gem’s fitting female Polynesian voyager and her empowering journey to save her family’s generational island, but also to the brilliant soundtrack featuring tracks including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s chill rap-pop number, “You’re Welcome,” and Auli’i Cravalho’s belted anthem, “How Far I’ll Go.”

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Hustle & Flow

Terrence Howard was nominated for an Oscar for his leading role as DJay in Craig Brewer’s 2005 film Hustle & Flow, a musically inclined tale about a Memphis pimp whose rap skills just might be his ticket out of poverty. And though there’s no doubt his time behind the mic played a part in that nomination, it’s actually one of the songs he drops, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” that brought the Oscar home—albeit for someone else. Or rather, three someone elses, as Three 6 Mafia won the Oscar for Best Original Song. In addition to the Memphis trio, JuvenileT.I., and Taraji P. Henson all contribute to the soundtrack.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It does happen: Sequels do outshine their predecessors on occasion. Now, we’re not saying the second volume of James Gunn’s planet-hopping Marvel adventure is superior in narrative. But we are saying it is the decided winner when it comes to the awesome retro mixtape-inspired soundtrack. A joyous and nostalgic mix of oldies and goodies—think Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me”—these tracks are basically the first-rate contents of your dad’s cassette collection.


If there’s one literary device filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn has masterfully decoded, it’s juxtaposition. See exhibit A: Drive, a violent action film soundtracked by a collection of shimmery, romantic, ’80s-inspired pop tracks. Ryan Gosling stars as a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and gets tangled up with some small-time West Coast gangsters. But don’t expect him to tell you that—there’s very little dialogue from his no-name character. Luckily, we have The ChromaticsLovefoxxxCollege, and Desire to fill in the uncomfortable silence with dreamy tunes.

Malcolm X

When the film isn’t bolstered by Terence Blanchard’s orchestral feat of a score or titular actor Denzel Washington’s tour-de-force performance, helmer Spike Lee is treating us to an outstanding compilation of period R&B hits (Junior Walker’s “Shotgun”), old soul classics (Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”), and jazzy pop gems (Billie Holiday’s “Big Stuff”). And just as all Lee’s movies are more than just films, they’re Spike Lee Joints; this album is more than a bunch of really great songs, it’s a moving sonic experience.


Unless you’re truly plugged into the indie soundscape of West Hollywood or have delved deep into the fold of SoundCloud, a lot of the deejay tracks and trap dance tunes on the thumping soundtrack for Sean Baker’s vibrant holiday odyssey that belongs to a pair of transgender sex workers will be first-time listens. But just consider hitting play on Tangerine’s soundtrack Christmas come early. Capturing the hyper energy and nervous tension of an underground scene through his musical talent, Baker enlisted acts including DJ Lightup & DJ HeemieWhite Night GhostsOkko, and more to tell one of the best stories of 2015.

Crazy Heart

Scott Cooper’s Oscar-winning honky-tonk drama with T Bone Burnett on board as music producer stars Jeff Bridges as a washed-up country singer, Maggie Gyllenhaal as his single-mom love interest, and Colin Farrell as Nashville’s current flavor of the month. The performances are rich, the critical acclaim is copious, but neither beats the quality of the film’s soundtrack. Especially T Bone’s lyrical collaboration with real-life country star Ryan Bingham, “The Weary Kind,” performed in the film by Bridges. It’s responsible for one of the film’s Oscars after all.

A Hard Day’s Night

A movie about The Beatles, starring The Beatles, soundtracked by The Beatles—why not? The Fab Four do what they do on-screen—including making women swoon, faint, scream, and become obsessive superfan messes of their former selves. It’s a flurry of black-and-white footage and lighthearted comedy, but the music is the obvious draw here. In addition to the eponymous title song, the boys also perform “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Tell Me Why,” “If I Fell,” and more. For something less literal yet also entertaining, try Danny Boyle’s Yesterday for a Beatles boost.

Wild Rose

Jessie Buckley, who you may know from roles in Judy, Beast, or Chernobyl, scored the lead in Wild Rose, an underappreciated 2018 independent film about a Glaswegian single mom who dreams of becoming a Nashville star. And, yes, that is Buckley really singing. Flexing her twangy, velvety vocals, she helps shine a light on the underground country scene in Scotland (which even houses its own Grand Ole Opry). And though the entire soundtrack is worthy of playing on repeat, might we first direct your attention to Buckley’s cover of Patty Griffin’s “Crying Over” and her character’s redemption song, “Glasgow,” written by Mary Steenburgen.

Can’t Hardly Wait

Navigating the horn-ball minefield that is adolescence are the cast of Can’t Hardly Wait: Ethan Embry and Jennifer Love Hewitt, among many others. Pummeled by critics yet adored by Gen Xers, the raunch teen comedy is now a cult classic—and to borrow slang from Seth Green’s Kenny “Special K” Fisher, it’s still got flava. Just look to the film’s robust soundtrack, a time capsule spilling over with ’80s and ’90s hits including “Graduate” by Third Eye Blind, “Dammit” by Blink-182, and “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC. And of course, you can’t have a movie about the ’90s without the occasional Smash Mouth hit.

Before I Fall

A 2017 film you may have missed, Ry Russo-Young’s sublimely understated Before I Fall stars Zoey Deutch in a Groundhog Day-type thriller about a high school teenager at the mercy of the butterfly effect, freed only once she solves the mystery of her own death. Its emotional punch will sneak up on you, but its soundtrack, you’ll praise from its first note. Fueled by empowerment ballads and obscure synth-pop dance tracks, the entire set of songs from Caribbean’s “Astro” to Empress Of’s “Water Water” to Grimes’s “Genesis” is just begging for a download.

The Lion King: The Gift

Beyoncé’s companion album to the “live-action” release of the The Lion King isn’t exactly a movie soundtrack. There is no “Hakuna Matata,” nor is there a rendition of “Circle of Life.” What you will unearth, however, is an African-inspired treasure featuring a lineup of talented artists and producers hailing from countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Africa. With an “emphasis on West African Afropop and South African house,” per Pitchfork, artists like Shatta Wale and Major LazerTierra Whack and Nija, as well as Burna Boy and even Blue Ivy Carter, pay homage to the motherland.

Donnie Darko

It doesn’t matter if you still don’t fully understand the puzzling teen drama that is Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. A brain scrambler about tangent and primary universes hinging on the philosophy of time travel, it’s one of those films that requires multiple viewings (and deep-thread Reddit searches) to unspool. But, hey, that just means you get to listen to the angsty, ’80s-heavy soundtrack again and again. As Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, along with Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, and Seth Rogen steer the story, you’ll be treated to “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears, “Mad World” by Gary Jules, and so much more.

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Pitch Perfect

What happens when RihannaAce of BaseDavid Guetta, and Simple Minds make music together? They create a pitch-perfect soundtrack. If it’s modern pop-rock mash-ups you’re after, the Anna Kendrick-led Bellas are your girls. A film that taps into female friendship and empowerment while somehow turning the art of a cappella into a super-cool after-school gig, the film employs a soundtrack that was timely for its 2012 release. No longer number one hits but not yet vintage favorites, the songs and mashes featured on the massive soundtrack make for one aca-awesome listen.

Sing Street

Sing Street is the name a group of eclectic high schoolers give their Irish rock band in John Carney’s other musically inclined hit film. Once is probably the auteur’s greatest hit, but operating under the assumption that you may already be hip to “Falling Slowly” and the others brilliant songs from that film, we’re highlighting this Dublin charmer. Capturing the film’s rebellious, angsty, and free spirit, the song list plays with vintage hits and original compositions—from Duran Duran’s “Rio” and The Cure’s “In Between Days” to Sing Street’s “To Find You” and “A Beautiful Sea.” There’s even a lesser-known track from Adam Levine called “Go Now” that you’ll instantly love.

American Graffiti

Chuck BerryBuddy Holly, the Beach Boys: George Lucas’s American Graffiti is tagged with some of the country’s greatest golden oldies sung by some of the nation’s greatest treasures. Blasted through car radios and speakers throughout the film by Wolman Jack, the DJ icon who hosts the radio show the film’s characters adore, the tunes, expertly curated by Lucas and his music producer, added an extra layer of dramatic sentimentality. As The Dissolve put it, this one is nostalgic for nostalgia.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Anything that lures Rihanna out of retirement is worth talking about. But Ryan Coogler’s follow-up to Black Panther is so much more than just a return to the mic for one of our most gifted performers. It’s a celebration of life, tradition, and strong women—a momentous feat that is reflected in the film’s soundtrack, which features global contributions from Mexico’s Foudeqush, Nigeria’s Burna Boy, and Britain’s Stormzy. Of course, we can’t forget to mention RiRi’s Oscar-nommed ballad, “Lift Me Up.”

Do Revenge

contemporary homage to the classic teen comedy, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s sophomore feature is an auditory delight packaged in pop and pastels. Starring Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke as Drea and Eleanor, well-dressed private school besties who are plotting the demise of their bullies, the movie blends old-school essentials from Hole, Robyn, and Third Eye Blind with new-school bangers from Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and Hayley Kiyoko.


Stretch. You might want to stretch your hips before diving into Baz Lurhmann’s tour-de-force musical about the King of Rock ’n’ roll. As lead Austin Butler taps into his lowest octave for the bulk of Elvis Presley’s discography, your lower extremities will feel the urge to move and swivel. Elvis fans will delight in Butler’s authentic drawl featured in “Trouble” and “Baby, Let’s Play House,” while general music buffs will relish the eccentric cast of vocals that includes Doja Cat, Eminem, Diplo, Swae Lee, Maneskin, and, of course, Elvis himself.


If Lin-Manuel Miranda is behind the music and lyrics, you can bet on ditties that are clever, fun, and impossible to get out of your head. Such is the case with the soundtrack of Encanto, a vibrant and enchanting instant Disney classic about a Colombian teen whose lack of magical powers disappoints her family. Of course, that’s where the disappoint ends. This soundtrack with rap-infused hits “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “All of You,” and the achingly beautiful, Oscar-nominated ballad “Dos Oruguitas” does not disappoint.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

A sprawling multiverse film that reinvents the rules of a blockbuster, and gives purpose to butt plugs, hot dog fingers, and a culinary raccoon, deserves a soundtrack just as eclectic and mind-bending. So huge props go out to L.A. trio Son Lux and those they collaborated with on the 49-track soundtrack. Mitski, David Byrne, Moses Sumney, Randy Newman, and even André 3000, who plays the Mayan flute, converge to deliver a maximized soundscape that’s as kinetic as its cinematic source.


Looking for a synth pop journey so cool you can feel it in coursing through your veins? Look no further than Mimi Cave’s directorial debut, Fresh, a cannibal thriller about a guy, a girl, and their tasty relationship. Recruiting the hypnotizing vocals of Blood Orange, Karen O., and Lady Wray, as well as layering in golden oldies like the Golden Girls theme song, Duran Duran’s “Perfect Day,” and Animotion’s “Obsession,” Cave and her music supervisor, Gabe Hilfer, give us a soundtrack we can sink our teeth into.


Love, Simon

Frequent Taylor Swift collaborator Jack Antonoff curated the stellar songs soundtracking Greg Berlanti’s LGBTQ+ romantic comedy, Love, Simon. There’s a cross-section of indie pop (The 1975) that mingles with R&B anthems (Normani, The Jackson 5), as well as deep cuts (Bleachers) and global hits (Troye Sivan)—and it all results in a lighter, more optimistic take on the teenage angst experience. One we like to watch and listen to on repeat.



Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta rack up quite the body count in this nonlinear blast from the past from revenge-saga auteur Quentin Tarantino. And for those who like their carnage propelled by a funky, flawless soundtrack, you’re in luck. Pulp Fiction features a timeless mix of seminal surf and ’70s soul from legends like Chuck Berry, Al Green, and Kool & The Gang, as well as article-fronted rockers including The Lively Ones, The Tornadoes, and The Revels.


Saturday Night Fever

You can almost smell the brut cologne and powdery disco fog machine when listening to the curated tracklist for Saturday Night Fever, the 1970s classic that catapulted John Travolta and his cocksure stride into stardom. A completely immersive audio journey, this one’s brimming with The Bee Gees, The Trammps, Kool & The Gang, and more. And even though it isn’t the definitive discography of disco, it does make for a remarkable contribution to the pop culture canon.

Straight Outta Compton

F. Gary Gray’s NWA biopic that charts the group’s rise from obscurity to hip-hop royalty in the 1980s stars Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., playing Cube, alongside Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), Aldis Hodge (MC Ren), and so many more. And though these actors do honorable work in their roles, it’s the soundtrack that can’t be beat. From “Talking to My Diary” and “The Boyz-N-the-Hood” to “Quiet on tha Set” and “Fuck tha Police,” no head will be left un-bopped.


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This article originally appeared in harpersbazaar.com.