From Elvis gyrating in prison stripes in Jailhouse Rock to Prince putting Apollonia on the back of his bike in Purple Rain, rock & roll and movies have been inseparable for going on 60 years. In making this list, we included soundtrack albums built around original songs (hey, Superfly) as well as expertly curated compilations (we see you, Quentin), but we generally favored fresh tunes over killer mixtapes. And while great movies and great soundtracks can go hand in hand (A Hard Day’s Night), sometimes a so-so film is full of historic tunes, as in our number one pick.
By Jon Dolan, Will Hermes, Christian Hoard and Rob Sheffield
25. 'Head' (1968)
The Monkees' psychedelic fantasy bombed at the box office, and nobody on earth has ever figured out the plot. Yet it remains a trippy cult classic, with cameos from Frank Zappa and co-writer Jack Nicholson. The music soars from Mike Nesmith's hard-riffing "Circle Sky" to "As We Go Along," one of Carole King's loveliest ballads. Head begins and ends with the grandiose melancholy of "Porpoise Song," the kind of music that can make even Don Draper want to curl up on a couch and cry.
24. Rock and Roll High School' (1979)
This set from the Ramones' star turn strips the punk irony from a clutch of their best songs and reframes them as pure anthems of suburban-teen disaffection. And the title track will forever carry the image of P.J. Soles blowing up her alma-mater as the band plays on. Chuck Berry's "School Days," Alice Cooper's "School's Out" and Brownsville Station's "Smokin' in the Boys Room" carry the theme, while period jams by Nick Lowe and Brian Eno mix things up. Still the best hooky-playing mixtape ever.
23. 'Juice' (1992)
Juice starred Tupac Shakur and featured Samuel L. Jackson, and its soundtrack (produced by the Bomb Squad's Hank Shocklee) was loaded with real hip-hop at a time when movies of its kind were still going with safer R&B. East Coast legends such as EPMD, Big Daddy Kane and Eric B & Rakim appear alongside West Coast gangstas including Too Short and a just-out-of-the-box Cypress Hill; there's also a New Jack party jam from Teddy Riley and Tammy Lucas and jazz-flavored R&B from Brand New Heavies and N'Dea Davenport, making this a wide-ranging, body-moving document of the hip-hop scene's wide-open early Nineties.
22. 'Lost in Translation' (2003)
Director Sofia Coppola has a thing for the French – see Air's lovely soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides, as well as her post-punk Marie Antoinette. But despite atmospheric tracks from Phoenix, Sebastien Tellier and Air, the signature music for this lonely love story comes from the haunted guitars of Irishman Kevin Shields, who at the time was still in pre-My Bloody Valentine-reunion limbo. It's the sound of souls adrift in the glow of hi-tech urbanity, all capped by the Jesus & Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey." Their Beach Boys noir never sounded sweeter.
21. '24 Hour Party People' (2002)
As you'd expect from a film about the birth of Factory Records and the 1970s-1980s Manchester scene, this soundtrack draws an arc from punk rock (the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K.," the Clash's "Janie Jones," the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have)") to the early MDMA-powered days of acid house and its initial rave mutations (Marshall Jefferson's "Move Your Body," Happy Mondays' "Loose Fit"). The pivot point, and the set's soul, is the music of Joy Division and New Order, which sounds more warm-blooded in this context than on any of their LPs.
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