Movies are true works of art. Most of us use our inner critics to take in a movie’s acting performances and the director’s storytelling abilities.  Those who study film (or are just passionate movie watchers) will also pay attention to the world of the story created by the writers and the cinematographer’s eye for space and light as well. There are costumes, sets, edits – a million little things that can make a movie great or merely average. My favorite “little thing” is the movie soundtrack.

For me, music can make or break a movie. These are just some of the most outstanding movie soundtracks that make my world go ’round.

Movie still image graphic: The Life Aquatic, Drive, and Purple Rain


Juice movie soundtrack cover

When Tupac stars in a movie, you assume that the soundtrack will feature him. That is not the case for Juice, but the soundtrack does not suffer for it.  Juice is a brilliant film both inside and out. Though the story is compelling and gritty, the soundtrack captures the time, the place, the panic, the violence, and the drama of the world of Juice perfectly.

Faves: Juice (Eric B. & Rakim), Nuff’ Respect (Big Daddy Kane), It’s Going Down (EPMD), Shoot ‘Em Up (Cypress Hill), and He’s Gamin’ on Ya (Salt-N-Pepa)

Purple Rain

Purple Rain soundtrack cover

We all miss Prince, his unique style, and his extravagance, both in life and in song. An instant success when he launched his career, Prince was fast to jump into a movie that not only showcased his ability to perform but one that would cement his music into pop culture forever. Cutting even a single song from the Purple Rain soundtrack would be harmful to the film itself. While the flick is today considered to be a campy 80’s-era timepiece, the soundtrack remains resplendent.

Faves: When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U, Let’s Go Crazy, Computer Blue, Darling Nikki, and of course, Purple Rain. All songs performed by Prince and the Revolution.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume One

Guardians of the Galaxy movie soundtrack cover

Like everyone else, I was enthralled with Guardians of the Galaxy from the first scene. Unlike everyone else, I wasn’t thrilled with the soundtrack as it unfolded during the film. I was [insanely] jealous of it. As a person who still makes mixtapes to this day, I was in awe of James Gunn’s ability to create such a dynamic, vibrant, and endlessly repeatable playlist. I already had every single one of these songs in my own collection, but they never found their way to one another to create such a splendid mixtape. Thankfully, James Gunn gifted us all this gorgeous soundtrack.

Faves: Hooked on a Feeling (Bjorn Skifs, Blue Swede), Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum), Come and Get Your Love (Redbone), I’m Not in Love (10cc), Cherry Bomb (Runaways)


Drive movie soundtrack cover

As much as Drive was a large success for its A-list stars, stunning cinematography, and enthralling story, it could just as easily come and gone and had no one take notice of it were it not for that outstanding soundtrack. Helmed by Cliff Martinez, a force of nature in the movie soundtrack world, the Drive soundtrack was not only complementary but essential to the story. Any song of this soundtrack can drop me right into the movie at the exact moment that song is playing – it’s that powerful.

Faves: A Real Hero (College featuring Electric Youth), Nightcall (Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx), Under Your Spell (Desire), I Drive (Cliff Martinez), Hammer (Cliff Martinez), Rubberhead (Cliff Martinez)

There are so many soundtracks that are nothing short of incredible, but my favorites list keeps playing on in Part Two of this blog!