Top 5 Movie Soundtracks of the 90s

Posted: March 13, 2014 in 90s Music, Lists, Soundtracks
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My original idea for this post was the Top 5 Movie Soundtracks. Then I realized, I barely watch movies these days, so my list would have had plenty of holes in it. Instead I opted to focus on an era of movies with which I am a lot more familiar. Soundtracks I continue to listen to well past their release dates. So here we go.

5. Trainspotting (1996). Director: Danny Boyle.

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle.

We all knew at least a couple of kids who hung this movie poster on their bedroom wall. It was that cool. An honest tale, both comical and horribly dark, examining the life of heroin junkie Renton, trying to function in 80s Edinburgh. The soundtrack combines the energy of Britpop, with the moodiness of electronica. Tracks like “Lust for Life” go along with the highs; tracks like “Perfect Day” support the lows. Then there is Underworld’s “Born Slippy”: a trance extravaganza that embodies the entire film in just under ten minutes.


4. Pulp Fiction (1994). Director: Quentin Tarantino.

Cast: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel.

Another first of its time, also a movie poster plastered on the cool kids’ walls. This flick took a nice hard look at crime, lust, and cocaine addiction from the comical, yet violent eye of writer/director Tarantino. As erratic as his film-making is, so is his music selection. Half the tracks are actual dialogue from the movie; the other half are old school soul and rock ‘n roll. “You Never Can Tell” participates in the famous twist contest; “Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon” sets things up for the infamous OD scene. Then there was the opening scene and “Misirlou.”


3. Reality Bites (1994). Director: Ben Stiller.

Cast: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garafalo, Steve Zahn.

Your typical rom-com with shades of real-life drama – including a closeted homosexual and an AIDS scare – surrounding a group of twenty-somethings trying to find their place in the world. The music can be the soundtrack for anyone at that age. “All I Want is You” brought Lelaina and Troy back together. Sporting grunge band hair, Ethan Hawke performs the self-deprecating “I’m Nuthin.'” Did I mention the infectious riff on “My Sharona”? Then, Lisa Loeb picked up her acoustic guitar, put on those cat eye glasses, and said everything we’ve always wanted to say to a forlorn love on “Stay (I Missed You).”


2. Empire Records (1995). Director: Allan Moyle.

Cast: Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger, Ethan Embry, Robin Tunney.

Yet another rom-com, this time following the angst-ridden lives of a bunch of young employees working at an independent record store. Every stereotype is addressed in this flick: the good girl/speed freak, the promiscuous flirt, the brooding nice guy, the sexy jerk, even the troubled one. With bands like Better than Ezra and The Cranberries, the soundtrack is the epitome of everything 90s. Rex and Gina get frisky during “A Girl Like You”; the employees throw a party on the roof of the store with “Sugarhigh.”  Then A.J. and Corey have their long awaited first kiss, while The Gin Blossoms’ “‘Til I Hear it from You” whisks them away.


1. Romeo + Juliet (1996). Director: Baz Luhrmann.

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes.

A massive production set in modern times, spoken in Old English, staying true to Shakespeare’s words. Two believable lovebirds you actually want to root for the entire time. The costume party scene where R and J catch each others’ eye through an over-sized fish tank, while Des’ree beautifully sings “Kissing You.” The soundtrack that is as eclectic as the film itself, using playful tracks like “Lovefool” and “Little Star”; adding intrigue from “Talk Show Host.” Then using the most absolutely perfect song to depict the intensity of their romance, and its tragic unfolding; with the most absolutely perfect band to accomplish the task. Garbage’s “#1 Crush.”

  1. Trainspotting, yes! That’s my favorite movie of all time.

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