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“Let It Go,” “You Never Can Tell” – Movie Soundtracks

Can Be Hit or Miss …

… but these are mostly hits.

by Erik R. Slagle

The Oscars only allow a film’s soundtrack to have two songs represented for its “Best Original Song” category, but now and then a movie comes along where even narrowing the soundtrack down to two can be a challenge. “Barbie” landed Golden Globe noms for “What Was I Made For,” “I’m Just Ken,” and “Dance the Night,” and any two of those 3 (not to mention tracks from Lizzo, Charlie XCS and Haim) would have earned their spots at the Oscars.

But like everything else that made “Barbie” a success, collecting that many hit singles on one soundtrack is a rarity. Original songs in movies tend to lean toward the extremes – they either capture the film’s spirit and atmosphere or must be awkwardly shoe-horned into closing credits with an artificial by-the-numbers sound deserving of its own Razzies category.

Done well, a great soundtrack is built around original masterpieces and scores and pulls in existing tracks that fit the movie’s mood and message. Beyond obvious choices like Pulp Fiction and The Big Chill, these three soundtracks might be the perfect complement to your collection of playlists:

“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” 1999: opening with the undeniably catchy “Tu Vuo' Fa L'Americano” as rendered in the film by Matt Damon, Jude Law and Rosario Fiorello, this album takes listeners on a sublime auditory tour of Italy through its original score. Sprinkled in are standards of the period’s golden age of jazz – Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie all make an appearance, Damon takes a turn at “My Funny Valentine,” and Guy Barker leads a powerhouse trio through a stampede of background jazz that perfectly rounds out “Ripley’s” soundscape.

“Stigmata,” 1999: how badly was this film received when it was in theaters? Bad enough that the only thing keeping Gabriel Byrne from a “Worst Actor” Razzie was the guy who played Jar Jar Binks. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is more than solid. Kicked off by Chumbawumba (yes, the “Tubthumping” band) delivering “Mary Mary,” the album’s first half brings us David Bowie, Natalie Imbruglia, Bjork, Massive Attack and the Afro Celt Sound System. From there, a score from Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan wanders through a moody, mostly dark musical forest. Overall, a soundtrack that well-outperforms the movie it was meant to support. (The same could be said for that year’s “End of Days,” another film the critics loved to hate but with a soundtrack that flat-out rocks. The “new” (at that time) lineup of Guns & Roses sends up “Oh My God,” and Korn, Eminem, Sonic Youth, The Prodigy, Rob Zombie and more come together in a nonstop onslaught of sound.

“Snatch,” 2000: a far-ranging soundtrack with zero weaknesses. An Oasis track with a title that can’t be printed here punctuates the movie’s final scenes like a Brad Pitt bare-knuckles fist to the face, and Mirwais adds two techno cuts that fit perfectly into Guy Ritchie’s 2001 caper classic. Bonus points for checking out the music from Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.