41 Best Movie Soundtracks of All Time
Grab the popcorn...and maybe your dancing shoes. These are the soundtracks you’ll want to listen to long after the credits roll.
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Soundtracks you can’t help but sing along to
The stories told in films offer an escape from everyday life for viewers who want to get away from it all without going anywhere farther than a theater (or a living-room couch). The best movie soundtracks elevate those stories, adding another dimension through which you can fully immerse yourself in someone else’s life for a few hours. Music has the ability to share what a character is feeling without the use of traditional dialogue, whether you’re watching the best sad scenes, sad movies, romantic movies, or funny films.
Over the years, there have been plenty of movie soundtracks and scores that have become ingrained in pop culture—and some have even eclipsed the popularity of the very films in which they appear. We’ve got the best of the best on this list, from the best movies of all time to some awesome ’80s movies to, of course, the best movie musicals. Download these toe-tapping soundtracks and you’ll have the perfect playlist for every mood…and you’ll be singing along before you know it.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
For the disco lover, there is no better movie soundtrack than Saturday Night Fever. While many people couldn’t tell you exactly what the movie is about, they can probably sing right along with “Stayin’ Alive” and “More Than a Woman.” This soundtrack is so popular, it has actually sold more than 15 million copies in the United States alone. Not bad for the story of a Brooklyn teen who escapes his bleak everyday reality by heading to the dance floor. (And now you know what the movie is actually about!) If you’re looking for a few fun songs to add to a party playlist, you can’t go wrong with these.
Black Panther (2018)
You don’t always think of action movies as those with the best soundtracks, but Black Panther throws that idea out the window. Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars” is a standout, but each song really speaks to the characters and message of the film. At the 2019 Grammys, it took home the award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.
A Star Is Born (2018)
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper not only provided their stellar acting chops for the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born—they delivered outstanding vocals on its soundtrack. Their duet on “Shallow” still gives us chills, and it impressed Oscar voters enough to win it the Best Original Song trophy at the 2019 awards show. That said, the entire tracklist is phenomenal and timeless. Play this while taking your next road trip and you’ll be singing it repeatedly…and soulfully.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Pretty in Pink writer John Hughes was so involved in the making of this film that he actually curated the soundtrack himself. Might we say he did an excellent job! The Psychedelic Furs sing the title hit, and the tracklist also features music by Echo & the Bunnymen, New Order, and the Smiths. The musical score of this oh-so-’80s romantic comedy perfectly captures teenage angst and first-time heartbreak.
The Lion King (1994)
Beautifully written, performed, and produced, The Lion King soundtrack is one of the most masterful of all Disney’s animated films. That’s saying a lot. Elton John’s version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was a chart-topper, hitting number one on the U.S. Adult Contemporary list and number three on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40. It won the American Music Award for Favorite Pop Album in 1995.
Disney’s latest film is jam-packed with catchy tunes—and with Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda at the helm, that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The soundtrack is lively and infectious as it masterfully tells the story of a Colombian family with magical powers. How good is the music? “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” the film’s most popular song, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 2022, making it just the second song from an animated Disney film to accomplish that feat. (The first was Aladdin‘s “A Whole New World” in 1993.) Warning: You won’t be able to get it out of your head…but you’ll be totally OK with that.
Chock-full of memorable songs, the Grease soundtrack is hands down one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. It’s timeless, catchy, and nostalgic. From “Summer Nights” to “You’re the One That I Want,” it’s impossible to not sing along to these beloved tunes—especially if you’re with friends. For more soundtracks that take you back, find out the most popular movie the year you were born.
Purple Rain (1984)
Some might argue that Prince’s Purple Rain set the bar for the best movie soundtracks. It contains hit after hit, including the title song, “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “When Doves Cry,” just to name a few. The movie won Academy Awards for Best Original Musical and Best Original Song Score, and the music is as impressive today as it was back in 1984.
The ’80s get all of the respect for great teen movies, but the truth is that the ’90s also had some major power players, including Clueless. As moviegoers followed the twists and turns endured by Beverly Hills high schooler Cher, the soundtrack offered up some rollicking good fun. Coolio’s “Rollin’ with My Homies” has a major moment in one scene at “the Val party,” but there are loads of other fun musical messages, too. This one will also make you remember some famous movie quotes.
The Big Chill (1983)
This ensemble drama is about a group of college friends who gather at a big country house for a weekend of nostalgia and reminiscing. That lends itself to some great music from the ’60s, like Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” One of the film’s famous scenes features stars Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, and Jeff Goldblum dancing to “Ain’t to Proud Beg” as they clean up the dishes.
Pitch Perfect (2012)
We could listen to the Bellas, Pitch Perfect‘s fictional all-girls collegiate singing group, all day. Their a cappella renditions of catchy Top 40 songs are earworms of the best kind. The soundtrack is equally peppy, featuring many of those performances and mashups, along with tunes by Nicki Minaj and Andy Grammer.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
The tale of legendary circus entertainer P.T. Barnum unfolds in this film starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, and Zac Efron. The music matches the drama and the inspirational message about being yourself and celebrating individuality. The tracks “This Is Me” and “A Million Dreams” are certainly fan favorites, but the entire album is pitch perfect. If you love period pieces, you might also want to take a look at these historical fiction books.
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
When you have one of music’s best vocalists of all time as a lead in your movie, you’d better have an amazing soundtrack to go with it. Waiting to Exhale doesn’t disappoint. There are a few tracks by Whitney Houston, of course, but a host of other incredible artists—including Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, and Patti LaBelle—also contribute.
Forrest Gump (1994)
It makes sense that Forrest Gump has a fantastic soundtrack because the film spans many decades, incorporating music from each one into the movie. You have Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, the Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, the Doors—and that’s just skimming the surface of the artists it features. Every song perfectly complements the scene in which it’s used, and it’s the perfect example of how music enhances a film.
The quintessential ’80s movie, Footloose has one of those soundtracks you just can’t forget. From the title track by Kenny Loggins to the power ballad “Almost Paradise,” each song makes the movie (and the strong desire among these teens to dance) so much more memorable. Of course, the fact that it stars Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker relatively early in their careers is also a huge bonus.
The Bodyguard (1992)
The movie itself didn’t make a huge splash, but the soundtrack is one of the best-selling albums of all time. It’s also the best-selling soundtrack ever—with 45 million copies in circulation. You’ve probably heard the gargantuan hit written by Dolly Parton and sung by Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You,” but the Grammy-winning album also features “I’m Every Woman,” “I Have Nothing,” and “Run to You.”
Based on the original Broadway production of the same name, the big-screen version of Dreamgirls with Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, and Anika Noni Rose made the music come to life again. The soundtrack is so stellar, it’s actually a two-disc set when you purchase it in physical form. You can really get lost in the songs, which are just as much a part of the story as the conversational dialogue.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The soundtrack to this Marvel Studios action movie hit number one on the Billboard 200 chart for 11 straight weeks. Audiences loved the throwback hits from the ’70s and ’80s that provided the backdrop to the Guardians’ space adventures. In case you haven’t seen the movie, Chris Pratt’s Quill has a Walkman mixtape that keeps everyone connected to Earth culture. Are you a movie buff? See how many of these movie trivia questions you can answer correctly.
Garden State (2004)
Scrubs star Zach Braff wrote, directed, and starred in this romantic comedy/drama that attracted a cult following, partly thanks to its stellar soundtrack. The best way to describe this array of tunes? Chill. It includes a slew of music from indie artists like the Shins and Iron & Wine, as well as a classic from Simon & Garfunkel.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Do the Right Thing‘s soundtrack is like taking a trip down memory lane of ’80s hip-hop and R&B. The film’s plot focuses on the hottest day of the year in a Brooklyn neighborhood where hate and bigotry reach a boiling point among its inhabitants. Public Enemy, Teddy Riley, Take 6, and Al Jarreau all contribute to this impressive compilation you’ll want to listen to again and again.
Almost Famous (2000)
As a movie that connects its characters through their love of music, the Almost Famous soundtrack delivers. There are so many classics, like Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.” As a collection, it’s like a love song to the 1970s. Another pop quiz: Can you identify these movies based on one photo?
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction landed on American moviegoers with a bang. And the film’s use of music is just as influential as its cinematography and writing. It uses surf classics and other ’60s throwbacks like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Flowers on the Wall” to create a memorable accompaniment to this ’90s darling.
High Fidelity (2000)
When a record store owner walks down memory lane to look at his top five romantic breakups, there’s going to be a lot of interesting music to complement the storyline. Based on the book by Nick Hornby, the film stars John Cusack and hits on so many great tracks. Cusack’s costar Jack Black even gets to tackle Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and does a pretty impressive job!
Mary Poppins (1964)
In terms of the best movie soundtracks that come from classic family movies, Mary Poppins is tops. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are such delights on tunes like “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.” You can listen to this soundtrack on a road trip and feel like you’re enjoying the movie at home through its charming music.
Little kids around the world fell in love with Frozen…and so did their parents. It broke Titanic‘s record as the soundtrack that spent the most weeks in the number one spot of the charts. Beyond that, “Let It Go” is Disney’s top song to be recorded in multiple languages—and one of the many soundtrack editions features the international versions.
Like American Idol but for animated animals, Sing brings some of the best renditions of previously released pop and rock hits. With that being said, the soundtrack of this funny kids’ movie is loaded with great tunes, like Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” which is performed by Nick Kroll and Reese Witherspoon. And it’s impossible not to love Taron Egerton’s take on Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.”
Romeo & Juliet (1996)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes starred in this rock ‘n’ roll riff on William Shakespeare’s classic tale, and it has a soundtrack that’s equal parts gritty and swoon-worthy. The band Garbage contributed its song “#1 Crush,” while the Cardigans give us the poppy “Lovefool.” The first soundtrack was so popular, a second volume was released.
Empire Records (1995)
Yet another film set in a record store lands on our list of the best movie soundtracks. There are a lot of fun ’90s music finds on this tracklist from bands like Gin Blossoms, the Cranberries, Cracker, and Better Than Ezra. It’s like a little time capsule of that era. The movie was all about young adult angst, and the songs definitely reflect that. Here are more ’90s kids’ movies you’ll want to watch right now.
Reality Bites (1990)
Feeling dumped out into the world after college with little knowledge of what “adulting” entails, a group of friends tries to navigate their new lives in one of our favorite coming-of-age romantic comedies. The Reality Bites soundtrack breathed new life into the the Knack’s “My Sharona” and offers great songs from U2, the Juliana Hatfield Three, and World Party, among others. The film also brought attention to Lisa Loeb’s popular mid-tempo track “Stay.”
Titanic wasn’t just one of the most epic blockbusters of all time—its soundtrack also made huge splashes on the pop charts. Anchored by Celine Dion’s extravagant ballad “My Heart Will Go On,” the movie swept audiences off their feet. The soundtrack is one of the best-selling of all time, with more than 30 million copies sold.
Twilight author Stephenie Meyer listened to a lot of very specific bands while writing the best-selling books upon which the movies are based. Many of them are included on the Twilight soundtrack, including Muse and Iron & Wine. Additionally, Carter Burwell’s original contributions, like “Bella’s Lullaby,” are hauntingly beautiful. If you love this genre, you’ll also want to take a bite out of these other vampire books.
Rolling Stone considers the soundtrack to this Beatles comedy romp to be the greatest movie soundtrack of all time. Some of the band’s best songs were released on this soundtrack at the height of Beatlemania, including “Ticket to Ride” and, of course, the upbeat number one hit “Help!” Fun fact: The latter was reportedly one of John Lennon’s personal faves.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Critical darling O Brother, Where Art Thou? wasn’t only acclaimed for the film but for the soundtrack as well. Featuring the vocal stylings of Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and the Soggy Bottom Boys, the music pairs seamlessly with the adventures of three escaped inmates (including George Clooney) trying to find their treasure.
High School Musical (2006)
Don’t roll your eyes. The High School Musical soundtrack has some of the catchiest tunes around, and it’s all family-friendly. This Disney Channel Original Movie spawned numerous sequels, one of which was a feature film. The soundtrack sold a whopping 7 million copies worldwide, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Some of the best teen TV shows also provide some memorable tunes (not to mention guilty-pleasure viewing).
The Graduate (1967)
Dustin Hoffman rose to stardom in this artsy ’60s film about rebellion against mainstream norms. Simon & Garfunkel score the romance and drama, and their songs stand in for the counterculture sensibility taking the nation by storm. The album charted at number one and features the iconic “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson.”
The story of a sharp-tongued teen who becomes pregnant and chooses a couple to adopt her baby, Juno is filled with a lot of heart and plenty of great music. The songs really touch on all of the poignant moments in the movie, elevating each scene with an extra dash of drama or whimsy. Costars Elliot Page and Michael Cera even duet on one of the tunes.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
If you love the peppy music of the ’60s, then you’ll find the soundtrack to That Thing You Do! absolutely irresistible. The film follows the Wonders, a fictitious Pennsylvania-based band who rockets to stardom with one hit. As they grapple with fame, moviegoers go along for the ride and all of the fun music that goes with it.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Dancing is one of those feel-good movies that everyone watches over and over again—and not just to see Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey shimmy it up on the dance floor. This movie’s music moved audiences across the nation, and it’s now the fifth best-selling movie soundtrack of all time, with more than 30 million copies sold. It also spent 18 weeks at number one.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
In typical Baz Luhrmann fashion, this rendition of The Great Gatsby is glossy and visually stunning. And, of course, there’s a fabulous soundtrack to go along with it. Tracks from Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Fergie, and more make up the compilation that is equal parts fun and dramatic.
Top Gun (1986)
What would a dramatic action film be without a fierce soundtrack to go along with it? Tom Cruise’s Top Gun was everything you could want in an ’80s movie about the students of the Navy’s elite fighter-pilot school. The music is unforgettable, including Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” which was a chart-topping hit, and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.”
50 First Dates (2004)
We’re not going to lie—we would really love to watch this romantic movie on Netflix. But until we can stream it there, we still have the 50 First Dates soundtrack, which is chock-full of updated versions of ’80s hits. We’re particularly fond of Ziggy Marley’s “Drive” and UB40’s “Every Breath You Take.”