The history of the film score pretty much stretches back to the dawn of motion pictures in the late 1800s when people realized that silent films sucked without some instrumental accompaniment to help the viewer make an emotional connection with the scenes. As films evolved, so did scores and soundtracks that included contemporary popular music.
Quite a few rock stars have even found scoring films to be fertile creative ground, including Explosions in the Sky (Lone Survivor), Nick Cave (The Proposition), Trent Reznor (The Social Network), Neil Young (Dead Man), Daft Punk (Tron), Curtis Mayfield (Super Fly) and Queen (Flash Gordon), among many others.
But right now we're not here to talk about original scores, rather we're trying to answer the following question: What is the single greatest movie soundtrack? So we asked you, our fans and followers, to throw down. And, like always, you came through big time with hundreds of picks. Solid soundtracks including Last Action Hero, Dazed and Confused and Friday placed high, but not enough to make the Top 5. So, without further ado, see your choices for best soundtrack in the ranked results below.
The soundtrack for Cameron Crowe's 1992 movie Singles is pitch-perfect grunge zeitgeist — encapsulating the biggest names of a singular scene (except no Melvins?!?) at a time when interest was at its peak. Sure, inclusions of Smashing Pumpkins and Replacements' Paul Westerberg don't make sense thematically within the LP, but are 100-percent in-pocket musically. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better snapshot of the grunge movement and, song for song, a better all-around soundtrack.
The 1997 live action Spawn movie is in many ways a microcosm of how marketable darkness was at the tail end of the Nineties. The fact that creator Todd McFarlane's uber–alt undead and mostly immortal titular comic character got a movie to himself is wild on its own, but adding an electronically evil soundtrack on top of that is really bonkers. The disc features one of Marilyn Manson's most memorable singles (and later summation for his life as autobiography title) with "The Long Hard Road Out of Hell" featuring the Sneaker Pimps. Its slow-burn pace contrasts nicely with the other mash-ups including memorable tracks from Metallica and DJ Spooky, Filter and the Crystal Method, Dust Brothers and Korn, plus Slayer and Atari Teenage Riot to name a few.
With its redundant plot and unconvincing performances, Stephen Hopkin's 1993 thriller Judgment Night was practically destined for critical and commercial failure. Not so for its revolutionary soundtrack, comprising 11 of the most random — and to our great surprise, refreshing — musical crossovers of musical memory. Slayer and Ice-T? Sure. Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill? Why not! Faith No More and Boo-Yaa Tribe? Hell yeah. Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul? You fucking betcha; as with its associated film, proper enjoyment of the Judgment Night soundtrack requires one to suspend disbelief in notions of common musical sensibility. The only difference is that this time, it's good.
The 14-song soundtrack to 2002's vampire horror film Queen of the Damned marked the first musical endeavor from Korn frontman Jonathan Davis unrelated to his main band, with five of its tracks credited to the singer. (Were it not for his label's protests, the release may as well have been his debut solo record.) In addition to reinterpreted takes on Davis' songs from Marilyn Manson, Chester Bennington, Wayne Static and others, the Queen of the Damned soundtrack includes memorable cuts from Tricky, Deftones, Papa Roach and more. If only Aaliyah could have made the track listing …
The Crow soundtrack was, and still is, the perfect gateway drug to musical subculture. Featuring arguably the best single from multi-platinum selling act Stone Temple Pilots ("Big Empty"), the rest of the soundtrack contains a who's who of important names from the alternative underground: Pantera, the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and so many more. What's even better? Some of these artists (who would also go on to become multi-platinum sellers) cover classic underground artists from yesteryear like Poison Idea and Joy Division. Not only a near-perfect soundtrack, but the perfect introduction to underground music in the Nineties.