Movies

Ten Soundtracks That Are Better Than The Movie

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Tron: Legacy might not win any prizes for dialogue, but at least one thing about it is easy to listen to.

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation

The two highlights of Tron: Legacy, which opens this Friday, are as follows: the way it looks and the Daft Punk soundtrack. As for the plot and dialogue, well, did we mention Daft Punk? While some might have been disappointed at the soundtrack as a standalone album, once you see the film, you'll hear how much better tracks like "The Game Has Changed" sound in context. The soundtrack is better than the film itself. Here are ten other examples of this rare occurrence.

10) Lost In Translation

All of Sofia Coppola's films are essentially the same thing: depressed, well-off white people wandering around looking, well, depressed. The other thing they all have in common: they all feature great soundtracks, with none better than Lost in Translation's. My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields contributes five songs, along with selections from Phoenix and the Jesus and Mary Chain, whose "Just Like Honey" is featured prominently in the film.

9) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

It's weird having a movie with an appearance by David Bowie that doesn't actually feature any songs by David Bowie, but there are three individuals even odder than the former Ziggy Stardust who steal the musical spotlight: director/lyricist David Lynch, "Questions In a World of Blue" singer Julee Cruise, and composer Angelo Badalamenti, who's as much a part of Twin Peaks as cherry pie and damn fine cups of coffee. Even fans of the TV series slammed the movie for being disjointed and humorless, but few could argue with the ethereal soundtrack.

8) O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Think back to 2001 and 2002, when the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers' re-telling of Homer's Odyssey (a mid-level entry in their filmography, contrary to some peoples' opinions) was unavoidable. The album hit number one on both the country and Billboard 200 charts, and would eventually go on to sell over eight million copies. It even won the Grammy for Best Album of the Year, over Bob Dylan, Outkast, U2, and India.Arie.

7) Singles

Less than a year after Nevermind put Seattle on the musical map came Singles. As with much of Cameron Crowe's work, including Jerry Maguire and Elizabethtown, the soundtrack is superior to the warm but insubstantial film, featuring songs from many of Washington's finest, including Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, and Jimi Hendrix, along with "Dyslexic Heart" and "Waiting for Somebody," the first post-Replacements songs from Paul Westerberg.

6) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Like Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson always has great soundtracks, with the best being Rushmore's, which features the Kinks, the Who, Faces and Cat Stevens. Thing is, Rushmore's a great movie, as are The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox. The same can't be said of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. It's not an awful movie per se, but it's overshadowed by its two soundtrack albums, one with the Stooges and Scott Walker, among others, and the other featuring Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge singing various David Bowie songs.

5) One from the Heart

It's because of this movie that the world was forced to see Robin Williams in Jack — Francis Ford Coppola, who directed both films, had to declare bankruptcy after going over budget by roughly $23 million for One From the Heart, which grossed less than a million. Its only saving grace: Tom Waits' gorgeous soundtrack with guest vocals from Crystal Gayle.

4) Friday Night Lights

What's even rarer than a soundtrack that's better than its source film? A television series that's better than its source film. Friday Night Lights is two for two. The fittingly Texas-based band Explosions from the Sky composed the music for the film, with no track better than the majestic "Your Hand in Mine," which sounds good no matter what the medium.

3) The Harder They Come

I have a feeling that most Americans' knowledge of reggae comes either from Bob Marley or from Jimmy Cliff's soundtrack to this 1972 Jamaican crime film, which also stars Cliff as a blaxploitation-influenced vigilante. The title track has been performed by everyone from Joe Strummer to Cher, but no cover is as memorable as the original. The album also features knockout cuts from the Maytals and the Slickers.

2) SLC Punk!

The Velvet Underground. Dead Kennedys. Minor Threat. Fear. Generation X. Blondie. The Ramones. The Stooges. They all appear on the soundtrack for SLC Punk!, and they also happen to some of the greatest bands of all time. As for the actual movie, well, there's a reason Matthew Lillard isn't a household name.

1) Purple Rain

Not only is the soundtrack far superior to the film, it's one of the greatest albums of all time, soundtrack or otherwise. Almost every song, from "Let's Go Crazy" to the title track, has become an integral part of pop culture, something very few albums can say. And if the real test of a great soundtrack is that it makes you want to watch the movie, Purple Rain is the perfect choice, because, let's face it, the film's pretty awful.