My Top 5 Movie Soundtracks and Their Connection to My Life
by Doug York
There was a time when movie soundtracks meant something. It was the first chance to hear an unlikely combination of artists, now called a “mash up” or when you were introduced to an artist for the first time like Capadonna in “Winter Wars.”
Then soundtracks became another way for labels to make money by pushing their signed artists to a different audience. And in recent years, the movie soundtrack has become lost in the mix of all the musical noise that exists online and the appreciation for the art of putting together a quality soundtrack is gone.
I'm not going to cover scores which are somewhat different from a soundtrack. Without getting too technical, a score is the music used to enhance the narrative of the film, usually music without words played during multiple scenes - it can even sometimes represent a character in the movie - like “The Imperial March” in Star Wars or the Jaws theme. A soundtrack is a collection of songs, usually with words, that represent the tone of a film and usually played during a scene. A sad song during a sad scene for instance or setting up the world like Dazed and Confused.
Although soundtracks have been lacking lately, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the great movie soundtracks of our youth and let their music bring us back to a time and a film that has lasted with us. Below are my top 5 movie soundtracks and their connection to my life and music. I hope you find something new or have moment of nostalgia as I get a chance to talk about my two favorite things, music and movies.
This was the music I grew up on and what really shaped my taste in music. From Sly & the Family Stones to the Jackson 5 and the Chi-lites, this soundtrack represents the music that would play in my house as early on as I can remember. The movie was good but the soundtracked has always been more memorable to me. A great collection of soul classics.
Connection: We used Buckshot’s line from the song "Crooklyn" in "Gone with the Wind" (listen for 1:15 mark) and there’s also a pretty serendipitous moment if you listen closely to Masta Ace in the second verse.
Another example of the songs that shaped my youth. The soundtrack is as good as the movie to me and I still play most of these songs on occasion. Al Green’s “Tired of Being Alone.” is one of my all time favorite songs. Both Crooklyn and Dead Presidents had second volumes but I only owned the first ones.
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR
Released by Def Jam and a chance to showcase their artists while testing new artists and songs, a relatively unknown rapper named Jay-Z re-released his song “Ain’t No,” which was his first song the on the Def jam label and what really catapulted him to the next level. How to be a Player is another example of a Def Jam soundtrack. The Nutty Professor soundtrack is a great combination of Hip Hop and R&B and sounds like the mixtapes I used to make. I'll still play this album every time I stumble across it.
Connection: When I was in high school I made a beat by chopping up this Monica song and it was the first time I really taught myself how to put a song together and not just rap to a beat.
This soundtrack is important because it was what we were listening to while writing a lot of The Breaking Point and I feel some of it’s influence crept in a few of our early songs. It was the first time I had heard of bands like The Shins and Thievery Corporation.
Connection: There is a sample from "Gone with the Wind" that is from the movie. The movie itself played a big part in the story we were trying to tell on The Breaking Point.
This was the first time I had heard of the term “new jack swing,” created by Teddy Riley. I used to love this music and when I would stay with family in New Jersey this would be the music that every seemed to be listening to. Groups like Heavy D and the Boyz and Naughty by Nature were making songs with melodies and not just rapping. That always stood out to me.
Connection: The movie Juice is what made me want turntables. I begged my mom for them and finally got two gemini bd-10’s and a dj Jazzy Jeff mixer. A kid I had just met named Patrick (Statik Selektah) came over to my house and showed me how to scratch and we became close friends. Those were good memories.
(Bonus Track) JUDGMENT NIGHT
This was the first time I had heard the world “mash up” in regards to music. Although it had been done before with Run DMC and Aerosmith and Anthrax and Public Enemy, this was the first time I remember a conscious effefort being put into combining rap and rock for an entire soundtrack and album. De La Soul and Teenage Fanclub’s “Fallen” was one of my favorite songs for a good part of my teenage years. And I believe this soundtrack is what spawned groups like Linkin Park and really made the rap/rock mashup acceptable.
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And one of my favoirite choices for music in a scene is in Office Space. We were going to recreate this scene for one of our music videos…. we still might.
I will say that even though great soundtracks have faded into obscurity, they have been replaced by great songs being added and discovered in TV. Part of the reason is because licensing has become a huge part of revenue for the music industry but also because there are a million shows nowadays and they all need music. Occasionally you’ll get lucky, Shazaam something and discover a new artist you can begin to follow.
I would love to hear some of your favorite songs and soundtracks from movies, shoot me a comment on Facebook and let me know what you’re watching, listening to, or maybe recently discovered in a movie or TV show! I’m always on the lookout for new artists and new songs.
Thanks for reading!