Movies have been connected to music since their inception. Silent movies usually had some kind of accompaniment provided by the nickelodeon they were playing at. Hell, even p*rn has a soundtrack (cue the jazz saxophone). Some movie soundtracks have become iconic, sometimes even more than the movies they are attached to. In honor of that, here are ten of the best movie soundtracks.
Psycho (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
Even if you’ve never seen this film, you’ve definitely heard it. Bernard Hermann’s now-iconic score has defined the modern horror movie with its scratching, slashing strings bearing down on you. It doesn’t help that whenever you hear the music, someone is getting brutally murdered. We dare you to Spotify this song right before you hop into the shower.
Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2010)
Like the score from Psycho, Hans Zimmer’s immersive theme from Inception helped to define the movie soundscape since it entered theaters. Name one other movie that has so affected the soundtracks of everything that came after it? The score even became something of a joke, with dark and brooding noises popping up in every action trailer and "SNL" skit following its release. It’s almost as if Zimmer and Nolan incepted this kind of sound into their contemporaries' minds. Too bad they couldn’t incept some originality into their counterparts as well.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (dir. Wes Anderson, 2004)
A lot of filmmakers use popular music to create a world for their films. Wes Anderson is no exception. Known for incorporating British Invasion bands into his films to help give them that extra ennui pop, Anderson went above and beyond for his collaboration with Roman Coppola in The Life Aquatic. Using David Bowie as a starting point, this Jacques Cousteau-inspired film about a film is filled with Seu Jorge ripping out some amazing Bowie covers with just an acoustic guitar and a lot of time on his hands. Personal favorite: "Space Oddity" as the Filipino pirates board the Belafonte.
Space Jam (dir. Joe Pytka, 1996)
"COME ON AND SLAM" or "I BELIEVE I CAN FLY"! Take your pick, people. 1996 is calling.
Akira (dir. Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)
Besides the fact that the soundtrack is creepy as hell, you have to give it to them for the song they decided to throw over the opening biker chase scene. It is simply people chanting the names of the two main characters over and over again while a traditional Japanese drum accompanies them. The sci-fi is also spectacular. So are the contributions from Daft Punk and Kanye West. Wait, what was that last one?
The Lion King (dir. Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers, 1994)
Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Ingonyama nengw' enamabala
Suspiria (dir. Dario Argento, 1977)
Dario Argento is one of the Italian Masters of Horror, helping to invent the “giallo” sub-genre that would define '70s horror. Horror films have always relied on their soundtracks to help amplify their scares and Argento is a master at utilizing music. With Suspiria, Argento teamed up once again with his band of choice Goblin to create a dynamic and horrifying soundscape that helps to create the intense feeling of dread that permeates the film. The shrieking in the soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.
Titanic (dir. James Cameron, 1997)
Does anyone know any other song that Celine Dion sings? Really, though. We just went through the entire office and asked and the only thing that people could come up with was “My Heart Will Go On.” If a movie song is so iconic that it literally is the only thing the singer is known for, that has to count for something.
Casablanca (dir. Michael Curtiz, 1942)
“Play it Sam, play ‘As Time Goes By.’”
In a film full of famous one-liners, this is one of the best. Again, attaching music to a film has always trumped up the necessity of a soundtrack and Casablanca helped set the bar. The song that Ingrid Bergman asks Dooley Wilson to play is the same song that brings Rick and Elsa back together, and ultimately defines their separation. A song that captures the essence of a break-up in one of the most romantic ways the silver screen has ever been able to.
Game of Thrones (David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, 2011-present)
We know, we know, it's not a movie soundtrack. But seriously, the main theme is just about as good as cinematic music gets. Our personal favorite rendition of the song (among many, we really like how the show has gotten musicians to cover the songs from the books) is this one right here.