16 Incredible Old-School Movie Soundtracks We'll Never Stop Jamming Out To

the graduate

As every cinephile and/or music junkie knows, a film's soundtrack is just as important as its actors, directors, and screenplay: The perfect song can set the mood for a scene like nothing else, and the perfect movie score can take it one step further, setting the mood for some of the most memorable times your life -- and capturing the vibe of some of the most memorable times in history.

Here are 16 movie soundtracks that will go down in history as musical masterpieces -- and for turning countless moviegoers on to some of the most important artists of our time. (Plus, they're just plain awesome to play on repeat!)


Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

  • Singles


    Like flannel shirts and Doc Martens, the Singles (1992) soundtrack was standard issue for many a '90s teen, featuring such grunge-era standouts as the Screaming Trees ("Nearly Lost You"), Mother Love Bone ("Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns"), and Alice in Chains ("Would?"), plus tracks from Paul Westerberg and Jimi Hendrix. 

  • Forrest Gump


    Like the movie itself, the Forrest Gump (1994) soundtrack was an instant classic, featuring chart-toppers that spanned decades, like "Fortunate Son" (Creedence Clearwater Revival), "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" (Bob Dylan), and "Turn, Turn, Turn" (The Byrds).

  • Boogie Nights


    Sure, everybody remembers the "Sister Christian" scene from Boogie Nights (1997), but there were a lot of other amazing tunes on that soundtrack, too -- like "Jungle Fever" (Chakachas), "God Only Knows" (The Beach Boys), and "Got to Give It Up" (Marvin Gaye).

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  • Juice


    For a comprehensive sampling of early '90s hip-hop, look no further than the Juice (1992) soundtrack, featuring artists as diverse as Cypress Hill ("Shoot 'Em Up"), Salt-n-Pepa ("He's Gamin' on Ya"), and Brand New Heavies ("People Get Ready"). 

  • Trainspotting


    Chances are you can't even think about Trainspotting (1996) without hearing Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" in your head, but the soundtrack featured lots of other classic and catchy tunes, like Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," Pulp's "Mile End," and Elastica's "2:1."

  • The Graduate


    A lesson in how to create a soundtrack as timeless as The Graduate (1968): Get Paul Simon to compose the whole thing. And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson!

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  • High Fidelity


    As it's based on a Nick Hornby novel that takes place mostly in a record store, it's no surprise that High Fidelity (2000) has a soundtrack that could double as an education in cool music history, with tracks from the Velvet Underground ("Who Loves the Sun"), The 13th Floor Elevators ("You're Gonna Miss Me"), the Jam ("Town Called Malice") -- plus a million other awesome artists.

  • Almost Famous


    Based on director Cameron Crowe's experiences as a young music writer in the early '70s, Almost Famous (2000) is like a musical snapshot of that time, with hits from Led Zeppelin ("That's the Way"), The Who ("Sparks"), and, of course, Elton John (the scene where everybody sings "Tiny Dancer" on the tour bus!). 

  • Dazed and Confused


    The soundtrack to Dazed and Confused (1993) is pretty much what every teen in the '70s listened to while driving around: "Slow Ride" by Foghat, "Low Rider" by War, "Cherry Bomb" by the Runaways. Alright, alright, alright!

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  • The Royal Tenenbaums


    Director Wes Anderson pays the same painstaking attention to his films' soundtracks as he does their intricately designed sets, and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) is no exception, with original compositions from Mark Mothersbaugh and tunes from Elliott Smith ("Needle in the Hay"), Nico ("These Days"), the Ramones ("Judy is a Punk"), and John Lennon ("Look at Me"). 

  • Purple Rain


    Okay, so Purple Rain (1984) is as much a straight-up Prince album as it is a soundtrack. But with songs like "Let's Go Crazy," "When Doves Cry," I Would Die 4 U," and, of course, "Purple Rain," who really cares?

  • Pulp Fiction


    It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the music in Pulp Fiction (1994) was one of the most important characters in the movie. Among the standout tracks: Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," and Urge Overkill's breakout hit, "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon." 

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  • Superfly


    The third studio album from soul and R&B icon Curtis Mayfield, "Superfly" (1972) gave us such classics as the title track, "Freddie's Dead," and "Pusherman" (which would later be sampled by the likes of Ice-T and Eminem).

  • Saturday Night Fever


    If the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever (1977) doesn't get you off your feet, it's quite possible that nothing will. Granted, you might not have moves like vintage-era Johnny Travolta, but who can resist tunes like "Stayin' Alive" (The Bee Gees), "Boogie Shoes" (KC and the Sunshine Band), and "Disco Inferno" (The Trammps)?

  • American Graffiti


    The soundtrack for American Graffiti (1973) could have been called "Every Song You Ever Liked from the '50s (and a lot from the '60s too)." "16 Candles" by the Crests? Check. "Runaway" by Del Shannon? Check. "That'll Be the Day" by Buddy Holly? Check. And the list goes on ...

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  • Reservoir Dogs


    Further proof that Quentin Tarantino is really good at putting together soundtracks, Reservoir Dogs (1992) included hits like "Hooked on a Feeling" (Blue Swede), "Magic Carpet Ride" (Bedlam), and "Stuck in the Middle With You" (Stealers Wheel). 

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