Best Soundtracks of the Decade

>> Saturday, January 23, 2010

So, I felt the driving urge to make a best soundtracks of the decade list, mostly because I left them off my best albums of the decade entry. If I had not done that, I can promise my top two soundtracks would have been amongst the first five selections.

A soundtrack is an artform that is often attempted but rarely successful. Every single movie, except Paranormal Activity, has a soundtrack. The director, studio, music supervisor and producers all try to create a world of music that exemplifies their picture, and more times than not, it is simply forgettable. On a rare occasion, a song, melody or score can come to life, and envelop the characters, and often become characters themselves, this list is celebrating those achievements.

Anyways, here are my best soundtracks of the last ten years, 19 from films, 1 from TV and one only available for purchase in the UK. It's a pretty comprehensive list, and I think that not only is the a personal list, but a categorical one as well. I think I got this one right!

I have to say. The years 2000 and 2008 kicked major ass! While 2004 and 2005 produced no quality motion picture soundtracks.

1. Once (2007)
OK, So this first pick was easy. And we will fight to the pain for you to prove me wrong. Not only is this on of the best soundtracks of ALL TIME, but one of the best albums. I picked it up within 30 mins of the movie ending.

2. O Brother, Where Art Thou (2001)
I am not sure another soundtrack swept the country in the last decade like this one did. People from all walks of life were toe tapping to the Soggy Bottom Boys.

3. Garden State (2004)
I think this redefined what a soundtrack could be. It was not just a track to plot action too, but it was a living breathing organism that competed and compelled the storyline.

4. Wonder Boys (2000)
I am not a classic, or old, rock kinda guy. I like fresh sounds. I like when my music takes chances. So, this record surprised the hell out of me. From Tangled Up In Blue by Dylan, to Need Your Love So Bad by Little Willie John, this soundtrack does not pull punches. And each song is placed in the movie so perfectly. It's both a film and soundtrack that was somewhat overlooked, and thats a shame. Check it out.

5. Juno (2008)
This is like a combo of O Brother and Garden State. The soundtrack kinda swept the nation, and spurred a lot of copycat like films, trying to find that little indie folk gem to toss in the mix. This is a great record, with new songs by Kimya Dawson mixed with the old Buddy Holly's and Mott the Hoopie's of the world.

6. Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
This is a product of the Juno school of soundtracking. And unlike many others, this one passed the class with aces. It is not in the folk vein of Juno, more of the indie rock mold, but they find a hell of a good mix. Including a personal fave's Bishop Allen and We Are Scientists.

7. The Wackness (2008)
It's hard to make a quality hiphop record. Especially if you want to keep the feel of early 1990's Brooklyn in tact. But this record succeeds and it is 100% because of the director/writer who basically lived this life in the first place.

8. Across The Universe Deluxe Edition (2008)
This almost doesn't count, I mean its a bunch of cover songs set to a musical. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against musicals, but going into this movie I was apprehensive that they were going to let The Beatles down. I could not have been more wrong. It is astonishing the way they use the lyrics and songs to tell this story. Some of the arrangements are so good that I actually prefer them to the originals.

9. The Last Kiss (2006)
Zach Braff knows his shit. From everything I can find, he was the main reason this album is so good. Granted the movie is rather forgettable, but it is not the musics fault. It is like Garden State's little brother.

10. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
As I have gotten further away from this movie, the more I like it, and the same can be said about this soundtrack. It is a character of the film as much as any of the actors.

11. I Am Sam (2002)
OK. So, I realize I have one Beatles inspired soundtrack on this list, but what can I say, its The Beatles. And some of these covers, are incredible. Personal Favorite is Howie Day version of "Help!"

12. 8 Mile (2002)
When putting this together I tried to avoid "...from and inspired by the motion picture..." discriptor. I felt like it was cheating. But I clearly broke that rule to include this great record. Great movie that is about music. If the music had sucked, it would have ruined the picture.

13. Save The Last Dance (2000)
This might be a little high for you. But think back to 2000. It was my senior year in highschool, and I went out the the Brand New SuperMall to check out this movie with like 93 friends. It was one of the best times I have had at the movies, and one of the best soundtracks. In fact, I picked it up the very next day, and again 9 years later, I re-purchased it so I could have it on my iPod. You may not realize how good of a time this soundtrack is. Give it another listen.

14. Almost Famous (2000)
I could share a similar memory about this soundtrack as I did for Save The Last Dance. I think this album made "Tiny Dancer" an iconic song and an iconic movie moment. From beginning to end, this is more than a solid soundtrack, it is spectacular.

15. High Fidelity (2000)
Damn, 2000 was a hell of a soundtrack year! One of my favorite all time movies, all about music. The soundtrack is so solid that I wish the record store existed just so I could share in these fictional musical moments. Great shit.

16. Veronica Mars (2005)
Another unofficial rule broken. This is a TV soundtrack. But it is a supurb soundtrack to go along with my favorite show of all time. From "I Can Hear The Bells" by Mike Doughty to "I Know I Know I Know" (recent song of the day) by Tegan and Sara, and songs by The Format and The Perishers this album does not miss a single beat.

17. Elizabethtown (2005)
So, I forgot this movie when first compiling this list, which is strange, because I remembered it two years ago when I made my best soundtracks of all time list. Anyways, this movie is just adorable, and the music fills in all the quiet moments, supplementing silence with emotion.

18. Igby Goes Down (2003)
This movie was underappreciated, and I feel bad for it. And the soundtrack was lost in the shuffle as well. I suggest you check both out. It is utterly clever.

19. Virgin Suicides (2000)
People who know me, might look at this placement as a little low. I love this movie. It's a top 20 all time feature. And the soundtrack is amazing. But its is also a little too one note. The songs by Air are great, but there was so much more in the film.

20. Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
Another recent film, this is similar to the Juno kind of things. Where most of the album is by one indie artist just putting their creative eye/ear into the music. Karen O (from the Yeah Yeah Yeah's) and the Kids really do something special here. The soundtrack is lost on those who have not seen the movie though, so that hurts it a bit.

Honorable Mention -- Donnie Darko British Re-release (2001)
If you are a fan of Donnie Darko and tried to purchase the album in the US, you would have been sorely disappointed. Only the score was released on this land mass, while the full, and wonderful soundtrack was released in the UK. Which is strange, considering it is a American movie. Anyway, this is a dark and dank soundtrack that is perfect to wallow too.


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