|Creating a movie soundtrack is a tough task, I'd imagine.
Out of thousands of songs, how does one pick the perfect 10 or 12 to compliment a film?
A good song can be played out quickly or not match the movie’s tone, it could be missed because of an important scene, or it could just fail to strike a chord with someone.
Below, you’ll find my five favorites.
"The Big Chill" (1983)
How can this not make the list?
It was a staple in my parent’s CD player for just about every party they had from 1983 to 1993, and it never really got old.
There are awesome Motown classics from “The Tracks of My Tears” to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” to the touching use of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get what You Want” during the funeral that brought the group of college friends together.
Good soundtracks aren’t simply laid over a movie like train tracks, but instead interact together just like the characters in a movie, and this is a perfect example.
"Garden State" (2004)
Writer, producer and director Zach Braff’s charming film about a young adult’s trip back home for his mother’s funeral also has a fabulous soundtrack.
Early in the film, Natalie Portman’s character introduces Braff (and the rest of the world) to a song by The Shins by saying “You’ve got to hear this one song, it’ll change your life, I swear.”
Added to throwbacks by the great Nick Drake and Paul Simon and newer, more modern songwriters, this disc lived in my car for about two years and I loved every second of it.
"Team America: World Police" (2004)
Leave it to the creators of South Park to make a seriously offensive NC-17 movie featuring marionette puppets who fight terrorists.
This hilarious film’s soundtrack is made up of original songs that break the mold when it comes to being part of the film. The song “Montage,” used during a montage while the main character is training to fight, is so literally perfect that it is shown in film classes to perfectly illustrate the technique’s use in movies.
But my favorite line out of all comes from a song about the Ben Affleck film “Pearl Harbor.” Played while the love interests in the film are pining for each other, the tune’s last line is “(The film) Pearl Harbor sucked… Just a little bit more than I miss you.”
"Reservoir Dogs" (1992)
It’s pretty obvious the inaugural directorial effort by a film lover like Quentin Tarantino would have a perfect soundtrack.
At the opening of the film, viewers are informed that the action of the film is taking place during the middle of fake radio station “KBILLY’s Super Sounds of the '70s Week.”
Peppered throughout Tarantino’s rich dialogue are great tunes like Stealer’s Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You,” Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling,” and Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut.”
In addition, the director built a perfect coup by including the sections of dialogue that come before or after the songs on the album.
It was an awesome way to make sure the film and the soundtrack were one.
The soundtrack from any Wes Anderson movie
I’ve mentioned numerous times that Wes Anderson’s films have incredible soundtracks.
For “Rushmore” he included British Invasion tunes from The Kinks and Donovan.
In “The Royal Tenenbaums” he made Nico’s “These Days” an anthem for unspoken love.
Anderson, ever the film scholar, used songs from Indian director Satyajit Ray for his film “The Darjeeling Limited,” in which the main characters take a long, spiritual train ride through Ray’s home country, in addition to more songs from The Kinks.
One of the more fun techniques he employs is pulling out songs from The Rolling Stones that were either B-sides or little known tracks, like “I Am Waiting” and “She Smiled Sweetly.”
Anderson is in my mind the master of the soundtrack.