20 Soundtracks That Define Cool

A great soundtrack is more than just a collection of great songs. A great soundtrack pulls the story along while somehow effortlessly blending into the background. The right one can help define a movie, and a terrible one can ruin an otherwise decent film. Here are the 25 coolest ever put together.

1. Drive

Since the movie featured such sparse dialog, Drive relied heavily on its amazing soundtrack to convey the mood of the film. There’s an 80’s electronic vibe present in most of the tracks, and Cliff Martinez did a masterful job of matching the feel of Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir flick.


2. This Is Spinal Tap

It’s hard to top the greatness that is This Is Spinal Tap, and those epic performances from the mockumentary are captured in the film’s equally impressive soundtrack.


3. Rushmore

The quirky Wes Anderson film features a hodgepodge of great songs. The original idea was to use only songs by The Kinks, but the final collection ended up being a mixture of random tracks from the likes of Cat Stevens, John Lennon, and more.


4. Trainspotting

Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” was such a perfect addition to the junkie-fueled epic, that it overshadows the rest of the killer soundtrack. Other standouts include classics from Lou Reed, Brian Eno, and others.


5. Blade Runner

The soundtrack to Blade Runner is mysterious and dark. It blends moody synths to create a gloomy and atmospheric sound. One of Vangelis’ most amazing works.


6. The Departed

It might not be the greatest Scorsese soundtrack (more on that later), but the selection of music for The Departed is pretty stellar. Using Dropkick Murphys to give off that Boston Irish vibe along with legendary tracks like “Comfortably Numb,” the mix is eclectic and just so damn cool.


7. Pulp Fiction

Like most Tarantino movies, Pulp Fiction contains an eclectic mix of songs. The most famous of the bunch is the rendition of “Misirlou” that has become synonymous with the film.


8. High Fidelity

It makes sense that a movie so focused on music has such a great soundtrack. High Fidelity is about the soundtrack to our love lives, and with quotes from the film like, “What came first, the music or the misery?” don’t go expecting all happy pop, but do expect something great.


9. Saturday Night Fever

Disco-haters look away. While it might not be your cup of glittery tea, you can’t argue with artfully crafted soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Highlighted by songs from the Bee Gees, it would go on to sell an insane amount of copies and become one of the most culturally relevant soundtracks ever composed.


10. The Social Network

Just another step in the evolution of Trent Reznor, his ambient soundtrack for The Social Network was made with Atticus Ross and received many major awards. The tracks are haunting and addictive and perfectly match the uncomfortableness and anxiety of the film.


11. Into the Wild

Sean Penn was persuasive enough to get Eddie Vedder to craft the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book. The Pearl Jam frontman played every instrument in every song and took audiences on a journey that matched that of Christopher McCandless.


12. Snatch

The soundtrack to Snatch shouldn’t work. The songs are so wildly different that you’d be hard-pressed to find a string to attach them. The whole thing should just fall apart. Only it doesn’t. There’s a mad-brilliance to the collection that features Massive Attack, John Murphy, and Oasis’ “Fucking In The Bushes,” among others.


13. Tron: Legacy

Get Daft Punk to craft your soundtrack and we don’t care if the movie is terrible, we’ll still see it. The resulting soundtrack for Tron: Legacy blends the electronic sounds of the French duo with an 85-piece orchestra for a grand score worthy of the big screen or an awesome home audio system.

14. Goodfellas

Perhaps the coolest of all Scorsese movie soundtracks, and that’s saying a lot. Each song moves from the foreground to the background as the dialogue and action wrap around them. Unfortunately, the album doesn’t include all the brilliant selections.


15. Garden State

In one quick scene, Natalie Portman made us fall in love with The Shins. Besides the two tracks from the band, the movie from Zach Braff featured great singles from Zero 7, Colin Hay, Frou Frou, and many more. The melancholy tunes suited the film perfectly.


16. Dazed and Confused

To accompany Richard Linklater’s 1993 classic, he chose a bunch of 70’s rock songs that go perfect with a nicely stoned summer. It’s hard not to think of the film when you hear “Sweet Emotion” or “School’s Out.”


17. Easy Rider

The music in Easy Rider is just so absolutely perfect. The collection can easily stand on its own, but the classic rock tracks beautifully fit into the narrative of the biker flick.


18. Reservoir Dogs

We wanted to include only one Tarantino movie on this list, but we just couldn’t leave Reservoir Dogs off. There are plenty of great tracks dispersed throughout the film, including gems like “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Stuck In The Middle With You.” Good even if your ear is detached.


19. Above the Rim

One of the greatest hip hop soundtracks of all time. Besides “Regulate” from Warren G, the soundtrack features cuts from 2Pac and other legends.


20. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” is the highlight of the soundtrack to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but there’s a lot of great tracks mixed in. It’s one of the most solid rock & roll soundtracks of all time.



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  • bearballz

    Where is the soundtrack to the movie “Singles”? Perfect time capsule for early ’90′s grunge.

  • http://HipsterApproved.net/ Hipster Approved

    “The Crow” was an awesome soundtrack at it’s time as well.

  • DrunkenFarter

    Yeah, selection looks good but I don’t want to download spotify.

  • Mark_Shires

    Grosse Point Blank

  • Paul Howard

    “The quirky Wes Anderson film (oxymoron?)…”

    Oxymoron means “self-contradictory”; I think the word you want here is “redundant.”

    That said, “Rushmore” is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. “Pulp Fiction,” “High Fidelity,” and “Garden State” are right up there, too.

    And one that’s not on the list: “Pretty in Pink.” That one’s iconic for us kids of the 80′s.

  • Eric Squires

    I’d add “Friday Night Lights” soundtrack to this. Great instrumental

  • Chivealicious

    As long as we’re going with a Trent Reznor pick, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo plays out better than the Social Network OST.

  • http://www.uptownconservative.com/ Bildo

    Voting “up” is simply too insufficient for the greatness of this comment.

  • Stu

    The ‘Swingers’ soundtrack was pretty awesome but I guess the music is dated compared to all the other ones listed

  • herman5150

    Paris Texas – Ry Cooder

  • Rob O’Daniel

    Aw c’mon, how could you not include “The Lost Boys” and “Heavy Metal” soundtracks?

  • dustin Roemer

    cowboy bebop and taxi driver I think deserve a spot on this list

  • Crockettman

    Natural Born Killers soundtrack was great.

  • Bebop

    The Big Chill has a fantastic soundtrack.

  • http://milano.bbakeca.com/ BBakeca

    Easy rider!!!

  • Leah

    Fifth Element

  • maevealleine

    natural born killers

  • ThatGuy

    This is a terrible idea for an article, everyone will have a different opinion and often movie soundtracks are associated with the scenes from the movie, so a song you would not have previously appreciated will suddenly become something special because of the association. It happened to me with the mike oldfield song ‘nuclear’ at the sony e3 press conference when it played with the MGS video

    Now I will add to the list:
    scott pilgrim vs the world
    Juno
    the secret life of walter mitty

    I know that these are very hipster but so it the the whole list above

  • tommy

    How about “Punch drunk love”… that’ s a good soundtrack ;)

  • Tex Ranger

    How could you leave Ocean’s 11 off the list?! Surely there’s nothing cooler than some cool jazz (the genre that defined the word) underscoring one of the coolest films of all time?

  • Tex Ranger

    One of my favourites.