There are many elements that go into making a film great, but I believe the most important is the music. The actors may be amazing, the sets breathtaking, but if the wrong music is added, the whole film could be destroyed. Imagine your favorite movie without the music; it just wouldn’t be the same. A great soundtrack not only compliments the visual aesthetic, but it gives it a palpable rhythm. Appropriately placed songs enhance the story by connecting the audience to the characters and transporting them into the setting. There are countless films with great soundtracks but only three that I have watched have perfectly married sound and cinema.
3: Detroit Rock City (1999)
Coming in third on my list, Detroit Rock City is undoubtedly one of the most music-centric films ever made and has an absolutely killer soundtrack. Set in 1978, four aspiring rock stars and friends, Hawk, Jam, Trip and Lex, score tickets to see their favorite band, KISS. Unfortunately for the group, Jam’s uptight, religious mother uncovers their plans, punishes Jam and sets the tickets ablaze. As the concert draws near and tickets sell out, the friends desperately attempt to find a way to attend while dodging numerous obstacles in their way. The movie is the essence of rock and roll and each song perfectly compliments the chaos of every scene. As expected, there are a lot of KISS songs peppered throughout the film but it still manages to include a wide array of genres. Throughout the movie, the rock-loving teens get into lots of different situations including physical altercations, breaking out of school and even falling in love and the music for each is impeccably matched. Some of my favorite songs from the soundtrack include “School Days” by The Runaways, “Boogie Shoes” by KC & The Sunshine Band, and “Jailbreak” by Thin Lizzy. I personally loved the fact that although the movie was made in the late 90’s, the creators decided to stick with music from the 70’s which helped create authenticity and made the film more relatable to multiple generations of rock fans. The movie is a great example of how music can fuse with film to create a unique identity that the two elements couldn’t do alone. Detroit Rock City is a great watch for any fan of rock and roll, raunchy comedies and of course, KISS.
2: Valley Girl (1983)
Valley Girl may be second on my list for soundtracks but it is number one on my favorite movies of all time list. A loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this 80’s rom-com tells an updated story of star-crossed lovers Julie and Randy and the forces tearing them apart. Popular valley girl Julie meets Hollywood punk Randy during a chance encounter at a high school house party. Although their friends disapprove, the two begin a whirlwind romance but struggle with their wildly different social statuses. For a film about contrasting and conflicting characters, the soundtrack is very important, as you have to reflect the differences but also make sure it is cohesive. The film does an excellent job of distinguishing Julie and the pastel Valley kids from Randy and his trouble-making crew. Songs like “Jukebox” by The Flirts and “Girls Like Me” by Bonnie Hayes bring a poppy and bubbly vibe to Julie and her friends while having sleepovers and shopping at the mall. On the other side of the spectrum, songs “I La La La Love You” by Pat Travers and “Angst In My Pants” by Sparks, reflect the harsh and impulsive Randy. Another wonderful aspect about this soundtrack is how heavily nostalgic it is. In my opinion, the 80’s were the golden age of music, so to have a movie soundtrack with so many hits is unique in itself. Perhaps the best scene of the movie is the montage of Julie and Randy falling in love but what makes it so amazing and magical is the perfectly placed track, “I Melt with You” by Modern English. The lyrics match the character’s emotions and conveys the feeling of falling in love. When the spark strikes, nothing else matters at the moment and the world quite literally stops as you melt into love. If you’re looking for the best 80’s chick flick with an addictive throwback soundtrack, check out Valley Girl.
1: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
I absolutely cannot say enough good things about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. For those who may not know, the film is an adaptation of Canadian cartoonist and musician Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic series of the same title. The main character, Scott Pilgrim, is a bass guitarist in a garage-rock band who hangs out with his friends and high school girlfriend. But when Ramona Flowers catches his eye, Scott is determined to win her heart. The only catch is that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to date her. The cinematography, the casting, character design, and animations were phenomenal. While all aspects of the production are great, what really puts this movie over the top for me is its amazing soundtrack. The soundtrack gained a bit of critical acclaim after the film’s release and includes tracks from Metric, Beck, the Rolling Stones and more. What is even more impressive about the soundtrack is that Beck composed four original songs for Scott’s fictional band, Sex Bob-Omb. The songs are surprisingly catchy and match the band’s aesthetic — it kind of makes you sad that they aren’t a real rock band. When a movie soundtrack makes it into your regular music rotation, you know it’s something special. If you want a movie that delivers it all, I highly recommend watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The awesome soundtrack is worth a listen and can be found on your favorite music streaming service.