Top 10 Soundtracks that Don’t Suck

I love music through and through. Music is one of my greatest passions in life along with movies and writing. When I get the chance to write about music or movies – or better yet, music in movies – I can’t help getting excited.

The problem with soundtracks is that most often the one good song on it is played repeatedly throughout the movie and in the trailer which makes you think that the rest of the music will be good. You buy it, get it home and are horribly disappointed. Often that song doesn’t even appear on the soundtrack which only exacerbates your annoyance.

Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen many of the movies accompanying these soundtracks so I can’t say that one of two of these aren’t guilty of that. What I can say is that on each of these soundtracks, there is at least one song that clearly takes you back to some key moment in the movie. You can see the scene. You feel like you’re watching the movie all over again. That, my friends, is what movie music is all about.

10. Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas

With some of the best classic rock songs in existence and some great dialogue from the movie, the soundtrack for the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is everything a great soundtrack should be. It has key songs from the movie and the dialogue isn’t distracting from the songs. With artists like The Yardbirds, Jefferson Airplane, The Youngbloods, Three Dog Night, Bob Dylan, Buffalo Springfield and an excellent cover of Viva Las Vegas by the Dead Kennedys, this is one that can be put on and played through repeatedly without getting boring.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

When Raoul’s attorney is tripping out in the bathtub and demanding Raoul play the song over and over again, the result is a classic movie scene and an even more classic music meets movie moment.

9. Velvet Goldmine

Velvet Goldmine

The glitter, feathers and boys in eyeliner are out in full force in this ridiculously awesome masterpiece of a movie and the soundtrack is nothing short of glam rock perfection. With Brian Eno, Shudder to Think, Pulp, The Venus in Furs, Teenage Fanclub and Placebo, there is no way this could have been anything short of perfection. Its worth noting The Venus in Furs is actually comprised of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, David Gray, Bernard Butler of Suede and Andy Mackay of Roxy Music.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: 20th Century Boy – Placebo

Placebo does such an astounding version of this song it’s incredible. Of course every song on this soundtrack is as good as the last and every song in the movie works perfectly with the scene. In a land of giants, Placebo stands only slightly higher than the rest which is nothing to be ashamed of.

8. Dan in Real Life

Dan in Real Life

This is the first of two examples when the soundtrack was better than the movie. In the case will get to later on, the soundtrack is only marginally better but with this one, Dan in Real Life the movies comes nowhere near being as great as the soundtrack. The movie wasn’t bad. The soundtrack was just far better. This can likely be attributed to the brilliant talents of Sondre Lerche who does a phenomenal job with this soundtrack. From start to finish, it’s one great song after another.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: Lucy ‘Pig-Face’ Draper – Dane Cook

Yeah, I know. It’s not the best song on the soundtrack but it’s impossible not to laugh at this little number after you’ve seen the movie.

7. Lords of Dogtown

Lords of Dogtown

A lot of people had a lot of bad things to say about this movie, but I, for one, loved it. The music fit perfectly to the era without feeling dated and old. Featuring Rod Stewart, Social Distortion, Nazareth, Sweet, Jimi Hendrix, Rise Against and Black Sabbath, this is a stellar soundtrack from beginning to end.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: Maggie May – Rod Stewart

Playing over one of the final scenes in the movie, Maggie May set the perfect emotional scene. It works on every level and provides an excellent backdrop for what’s happening on the screen. Fabulous combination of music for a fabulously poignant scene.

6. I Am Sam

I Am Sam

Some of the best musicians of the time are brought together on this soundtrack, each one putting their own spin on a Beatles classic. Everything about this soundtrack works. Although there are some moments I liked more than others, all in all, it’s a terrific soundtrack. With great covers from Sheryl Crow, The Wallflowers, The Vines, The Black Crowes, Aimee Mann, The Stereophonics, Sarah McLachlan, Heather Nova, Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, Nick Cave and Ben Folds, this is a must listen soundtrack for any music fan.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: I can’t narrow it down to one. My personal favorites are Eddie Vedder’s You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, Sarah McLachlan’s Blackbird, The Stereophonic’s Don’t Let Me Down, Ben Harper’s Strawberry Fields Forever and Ben Folds’ Golden Slumbers.

5. Twilight/The Twilight Saga: New Moon


I decided these would be a tie because they’re both great and I really didn’t want to give two slots to the Twilight franchise. Say what you want about the music, the movies and, yes, the fans, but these are awesome soundtracks. With the original offering Iron & Wine, Mutemath, Paramour, Radiohead, Muse, Linkin Park, Perry Farrell and a surprisingly awesome song by Robert Pattinson, this is a highly replayable and highly enjoyable soundtrack even non-Twilighters will love.

New Moon is every bit as good with Death Cab for Cutie, a return trip from Muse, Thom Yorke, The Killers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, OK Go, Grizzly Bear and The Editors it’s an awesome mix of great music. My only complaint is the lack of Pattinson. He may not be much of an actor – at least not as Edward Cullen – but that boy can sing.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: Supermassive Black Hole – Muse

This song will forever remind me of vampire baseball, much like it will for everyone else who has seen the movie. That kind of sucks for Muse.

4. Once


Okay, this soundtrack is just sickeningly good. With Glen Hansard of The Frames taking the lead on almost every song the product is incredible. His songwriting style and vocal style is very similar to fellow Irishman, Damien Rice but not in a repetitive, unoriginal way. I, admittedly, have yet to see this movie, but if it is half as good as the soundtrack, I’ll love it.

3. Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Eddie Vedder did an unbelievable job on this soundtrack. It’s amazing from beginning to end. With songs like Setting Forth, No Ceiling, Rise, Hard Sun and Society he absolutely captured every feeling and emotion conveyed by the movie in song. His voice is ridiculous – haunting and deeply moving. This was a truly hard choice to put at three and part of me will continue to wonder whether it should’ve come in at number two long after this article is published. That, my friends, is called truth in journalism – or listing or whatever this would be called.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: Society

Everything the movie wants to say is wrapped up in this three minute song. It’s absolutely perfect. There’s a loneliness in the bare bones acoustic sound of the song and Vedder’s voice is extra haunting.

2. Garden State

Garden State

This is the soundtrack I said I would be discussing later when I spoke of Dan in Real Life. I had a hard time deciding whether I would put this above Into the Wild for one reason only – this soundtrack introduced me to my love of indie rock and many bands that have since become among my favorites. Iron & Wine, Zero 7, Jem, The Cary Brothers, Frou Frou (although in fairness, I already loved Imogen Heap), Nick Drake and finally, The Shins. Oh The Shins – I can’t even describe how much I love that band. This soundtrack is absolutely brilliant from start to finish – from the first song to the last. Incredible.

Ultimate Music Meets Movie Scene: The New Slang – The Shins/Such Great Heights – Iron and Wine

While my memory of the movie – which was actually really good – is somewhat vague, I remember falling in love with these songs and wanting to own everything those bands ever recorded.

1. I’m Not There

I’m Not There

This is the mother of all soundtracks. The lineup is amazing and the songs, all covers of Bob Dylan songs, are ridiculous in the best possible way. This two CD set doesn’t have a single song that feels unnecessary. Eddie Vedder covers All Along the Watchtower with the Million Dollar Bashers. Stephen Malkmus teams up with the Million Dollar Bashers for Ballad of a Thin Man. Jim Jones of My Morning Jacket tackles Goin’ to Acapulco with expert talent supported by Calexico. Roger McGuinn and Calexico do an amazing cover of One More Cup of Coffee. Cat Power, Iron & Wine, Jeff Tweedy, Mark Lanagan, Willie Nelson, John Doe, Sufjan Stevens and The Black Keys are just some of the other incredible artists who perform on this soundtrack. This soundtrack is way too good and the music way too instrumental to the movie to even pick one for the ultimate music meets movie scene. It’s that good. Check it out right away.