5 Best Movie Mix Tapes

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“Well I kind of look at it like it’s your favorite directors making a mix tape just for you.” -Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott on ‘Parks & Recreation’. Photo courtesy of NBC.

Is it just me or are soundtracks everywhere right now? Both the Pitch Perfect and The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtracks debuted on the Billboard charts. Pitch Perfect debuted at No. 1 on the Top Soundtracks chart and Perks at No. 21. Ben Wyatt’s love of soundtracks was revealed on Parks & Recreation this past Thursday. For a typically underrated art form, soundtracks are getting a lot of press this week.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite movie soundtracks, so I went through my iTunes library and looked up some old soundtracks on Spotify. In order to narrow down my list I excluded soundtracks for musicals so that I could stay true to Ben Wyatt’s mix tape idea (which cut out all of Disney unfortunately) and included only soundtracks that work well within the movies (sorry Hunger Games.)

‘Save the Last Dance’ was so popular, a 2006 direct-to-video sequel was created. Photo courtesy of Hollywood Records.

5. Save the Last Dance (2001)

This was the first soundtrack I ever purchased with my own money and I remember my mom asking me if I was sure I wanted it because I hadn’t heard all of the songs. But I was sure and I listened to it non-stop. Save the Last Dance was a great movie with a great soundtrack. All the songs fit well into the movie, and if the soundtrack for a movie about dancing is terrible, the movie is going to be terrible as well.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie or listened to the soundtrack, but it was my first so it makes the list.

4. Transformers (2007)

Before Transformers turned into the huge Michael Bay movie franchise that it is today, it was just another comic book movie that worried fans. But then it came out and everyone loved it. Part of what made me love Transformers was the music. It was everything I expected from the soundtrack to a movie about alien robots who shape shift into sport cars and 18-wheel trucks. There’s some industrial, some nu metal and even some Goo Goo Dolls for good measure. The soundtrack goes great with the movie and sounds good by itself. Plus it has Taking Back Sunday.

The ‘Pitch Perfect’ soundtrack is the first all a capella movie soundtrack. Photo courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises.

3. Pitch Perfect (2012)

Okay, I might be pushing it with this one, but Pitch Perfect isn’t a typical musical because the musical element is an acknowledged part of the plot (and this is my blog so I make the rules.) As you may have read, I’m a fan of the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Although I had some doubts, seeing the movie made me fall head over heals for this soundtrack. Which is exactly what I like about it: the songs directly relate to the characters since they choose them in the context of the movie. I like that you get to know each of the characters’ taste in music from the soundtrack. It’s still a mix tape, but more along the lines of something Beca would put together rather than the typical high school/college student.

2. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Between Semisonic, The Cardigans, and some Sister Hazel this soundtrack is the epitome of a 90s mix tape. What I like about it though is that many of the songs are off the beaten 90s path and that it works perfectly with the movie. Between the party music and the more alternative songs like Letters to Cleo’s “Cruel to Be Kind” it’s an unusual mix tape, but those are my favorite kind. The soundtrack was and is one of my favorite things about 10 Things I Hate About You. The only way it could have been improved was with Heath Ledger’s version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”

The ‘Empire Records’ soundtrack was originally released on August 22, 1995. Photo courtesy of A&M Records.

1. Empire Records (1995)

If you watch a movie about a record store and you don’t immediately fall in love with the soundtrack, someone hasn’t done their job. It is impossible for me to pick a favorite music moment from this movie: Mark singing “Nothing left to sing about this time / it’s over now / the word is out / it hit the polls” until he’s out of breath; Joe smashing his drums to AC/DC; Rex Manning’s “Say No More (Mon Amour)” grown-man shimmy; Gina overcoming her fear to sing with Berko’s band; and the final scene of everyone dancing on the roof to “This Is The Day” by The The are all at the top of the list. Empire Records weds music and film together in a way that I haven’t seen done by anything else. Which is why it is my favorite movie soundtrack.

Any good soundtracks you think I missed? Any soundtracks you’d like to quarrel about? Or are there any upcoming releases you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

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