Movies

Published on March 11th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

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Weekly survey: What’s the best alt-rock-based movie soundtrack of all time?

The sale of movie soundtracks used to be a sizeable source of income for studios, labels, and bands. Not only were they great marketing tools for movies but they also offered artists ways to expose their music to new artists.

Think about what the soundtrack albums for John Hughes’ movies did for breaking British artists like New Order and OMD in America. The soundtrack for Singles helped boost the fortunes of grunge. And the Judgement Night soundtrack proved that you could bridge the gap between rock and rap.

Or maybe you want to get super-retro. I know that at least a few readers in Winnipeg are thinking about Phantom of the Paradise right now. (It really is a Winnipeg thing. Trust me.) Remember movies like FM and Urban Cowboy? Those soundtracks were massive.

Here are a few more of my favourites:

  • Clerks
  • The Crow (1 and 2)
  • Empire Records
  • Garden State
  • Trainspotting (both volumes from the original movie)

What, in your opinion, was the best of all the alt-rock soundtracks?




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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32 Responses to Weekly survey: What’s the best alt-rock-based movie soundtrack of all time?

  1. Kevin Marsh says:

    Dunno about “best” but Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver has a fabulous soundtrack. His “Scott Pilgrim” also (and bonus points for the name coming from a Canadian alt-rock tune!).

  2. Marty says:

    I love the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack. “The Crow” is another good one.

  3. Dan says:

    Personal favs are already listed. The Crow, Singles, Judgement Night.

    Other favs:
    Pump Up The Volume
    Lost Highway

  4. Mel says:

    Tank Girl

  5. Joe says:

    I love the songs featured in American Pie:

    Hole – Celebrity Skin
    Everclear – Everything to Everyone
    Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta
    Blink 182 – Mutt
    Barenaked Ladies – One Week
    Third Eye Blind – Semi Charmed Life

    Problem is, most of these songs aren’t even featured on the official soundtrack.

  6. Russell Passey says:

    Urgh…A Music War

  7. Bobby B says:

    Some Kind of Wonderful (written by John Hughes but directed by Howard Deutch (who became the future Mr. Lea Thompson) is a very underrated 80’s alt rock soundtrack.

    • Italo Aliaga says:

      Angus (super underrated), lost highway, and I gotta admit that the american pie soundtracks were solid.

  8. Steve says:

    The “Heavy Metal” soundtrack is at the top of my list (although this may be due to the epic quest to find a used LP back before they had the copyrights figured out for reissues).

  9. jvanderschee says:

    Six Feet Under had a great soundtrack and introduced artists like Death Cab for Cutie, Phoenix, Interpol, Sia, Arcade Fire.

  10. Russell Passey says:

    Not to mention “Cha Cha” with Herman Brood, Nena Hagen and Lene Lovich

  11. Breakfast Club
    Less Than Zero

  12. Robert says:

    No one mentioned my fave yet. Lost Highway. Killer album.

  13. Alpha says:

    “Cool World”. If I remember correctly, 5 tracks from that soundtrack were on the CFNY countdown simultaneously. The movie was abysmal, but the soundtrack remains one of my “go to’s” for introducing 90s alternative.

  14. John Lucas says:

    Singles. For Smashing Pumpkins’ “Drown” alone.

  15. Diesel says:

    Singles tops my list by far (although Phantom o/t Paradise is one of the greatest ever!)…also Reality Bites and Romeo + Juliet (w/Leo DiCaprio & Claire Danes) stood out…

  16. Barbara says:

    The Saint

  17. Val Dunne says:

    Valley Girl! The Plimsouls appeared in the move with ‘A Million Miles Away’ and ‘Oldest Story in the World’. Then there was The Psychedelic Furs ‘Love My Way’, Modern English “Melt With you’, Payolas with ‘Eyes of a Stranger’. The (unofficial) soundtrack wasn’t released until 1993 by Rhino.

  18. Kyle says:

    Singles
    The Crow
    Love and a .45
    A Life Less Ordinary
    Trainspotting
    Tank Girl

  19. chris wiens says:

    Singles

  20. Kenn says:

    Love and a 45!
    Natural Born Killers!

  21. Jeff says:

    Empire Records soundtrack is legendary, in my opinion. And one that I don’t hear mentioned often, that was a go to for me, was the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack. Great tunes on that one too!

  22. D_Mac says:

    The Crow, Empire Records, Dazed & Confused, Lost Highway, The Punisher (2004) and Daredevil (2003) are all ones I’ve had in heavy rotation at some point or another.

  23. David says:

    Brian De Palma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE by Paul Williams is the best rock soundtrack of All-Time.

  24. Dave Breakenridge says:

    24 Hour Party People

  25. Trevor Mac says:

    Romeo and Juliet — Garbage, Radiohead, Butthole surfers, amongst others. A solid soundtrack from end to end.

  26. Joe says:

    Dumb and Dumber also has a great soundtrack.

  27. Chris says:

    Pump Up The Volume

  28. avhoff says:

    Not sure if it fits alt-rock completely, but Underworld (2003) has some standouts.

    By 2009, the industry figured out the mesh with music, but Twilight – New Moon has quite the track list.

    Mentioned by many above, The Crow holds up well.

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