Today’s date is October 21st 2015 – and, as I’m sure you already know – it is being coined globally as ‘Back To The Future Day’. If you’ve somehow evaded the constant monotonous stream of articles written about todays date, then you’ll be amazed to find out that October 21st 2015 is the date that Marty McFly famously time-travelled to in the 80’s sci-fi classic, Back To The Future. Unlike everything else you’ve probably scrolled past during your daily dosage of internet browsing, we’re not here to talk about ‘Pepsi Perfect’, self-tying shoe laces, or how close we are to finally being able to chase steam trains on hoverboards. We’re here to talk about the music.
Back To The Future
Besides boasting Etta James, Eric Clapton, and Lindsey Buckingham on their iconic tracklist, the Back To The Future soundtrack also had an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Song. ‘The Power of Love’ by Huey Lewis and The News (not to be confused with the Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit) sets up the movie perfectly as Marty McFly skates through his hometown on his way to class, encapsulating everything that’s heartwarmingly cheesy about the 80’s in one short scene.
The film culminates at the high-school dance where McFly is on stage fumbling through the romantic number ‘Earth Angel’ as his hands disappear and his dad tries desperately to seal the deal with his mother. Of course, George McFly finally plucks up the courage, then Marty looks over to his bandmates and says the iconic line, “This is an oldie, well…. It’s an old on where I come from”, before breaking into one of the best musical scenes in Hollywood history.
500 Days Of Summer
All previous indie-rock listening, NME obsessive teenagers of the world (me being one of them) will vouch for how incredible this soundtrack is. This is a film that single-handedly introduced me to artists such as Hall & Oates, Simon and Garfunkel, Doves, Regina Spektor, and now one of my favourite bands of all time; The Pixies. On top of this list, the film also has two Smiths tracks, ‘Vagabond’ by Wolfmother, ‘Sweet Disposition’ by Temper Trap, ‘She’s Got You High’ by Mumm-Ra, AND a script that’s packed to the rafters with music references. It might be a rom-com, but it doesn’t get much better than that
Although I’d love to choose the bar scene, where Joseph Gordon-Levitt drunkenly introduced me to the Pixies, for nostalgic reasons. It has to be the ridiculous song and dance number along to Hall & Oates.
The cult classic kicks things off with ‘Killing Moon’ by Echo and The Bunnymen (or alternatively, ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ by INXS on the extended edition) during its enigmatic opening sequence. The soundtrack continues on the 80’s new wave theme, using hits such as ‘Head Over Heels’ by Tears For Fears and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by Joy Division. The soundtrack fits the film perfectly as the bipolar and ever-shifting moods of the songs reflect both Darko’s creepy and mysterious nature as well as the idyllic 80’s middle-class society that he’s living in.
Gary Jules’ cover of ‘Mad World’ – also by Tears For Fears – is what makes the closing sequence one of the most memorable moments of the movie.
It may come as a bizarre surprise, but this is the one movie soundtrack that I physically own. It may stay hidden, out of sight, at the back of the record collection, but being a fan of this album should be nothing to be ashamed of. The soundtrack is scattered with doo-wop numbers, including tracks from 60’s legends such as Frankie Valli and Frankie Avalon. It even includes a cover of the Manchester City favourite, ‘Blue Moon’; and ‘Hound Dog’, the Big Mama Thornton tune that Elvis Presley later
made famous. Not to mention the musical numbers and karaoke regulars such as, ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Greased Lightning’.
When Olivia Newton John leathers up and sings ‘You’re The One That I Want’. Obviously.
The Who’s rock-opera is an essential in any list involving movie soundtracks. The film is an accurate document of the Mod movement in the early 1960’sand the music behind it just happens to come from one the biggest Mod band of all time. The epic ‘5.15’ and ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ are undoubtedly the two biggest highlights from the original soundtrack, with the latter appearing during the controversial final scene.
The track is not from the original soundtrack of the film, although one of the most memorable scenes is from house party in which Jimmy is listening to The Who’s era-defining song, ‘My Generation’.
While writing this, I’ve realised that consistency is a common feature throughout this list. Whether the consistency is created by the era, the genre, or simply the mood of the songs, most films from the list have a pattern that they follow that makes them so iconic. Very few films, however, stick to their guns quite as much as The Graduate. This is possibly my favourite film of all time, and it’s made all the better due to how daring, yet simplistic, the soundtrack is. Besides the few instrumental numbers, every song featured on the soundtrack is by Simon and Garfunkel. ‘The Sound Of Silence’ repeats during multiple different scenes throughout the film, as does ‘Mrs Robinson’ – one of the duo’s most popular songs that was written especially for The Graduate.
The infamous final scene that sends all sense of a happy ending askew with a single sigh and the reoccurrence of the immortal line, “Hello darkness my old friend…”
When it comes to soundtracks, surely this is the greatest? It has to be. From the opening sequence with Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’, all the way to the overdose scene with Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’, Danny Boyle’s drug-fuelled masterpiece is the film that it is because of it’s soundtrack. As well as Iggy Pop and Lou Reed; Brian Eno, Primal Scream, New Order, Blur, Pulp, Elastica, Sleeper, and Leftfield all appear in this snapshot of life in 90’s, at the very height of britpop and rave culture.
The final scene as Renton walks off into the distance to the sound of Born Slippy.