Most serious music fans tend to gravitate toward full albums by a single artist or group, and understandably so. An album tells a story, not necessarily in narrative form, but of expression and talent; a single track changes in context based on what comes before it and what comes after. That said, a great film soundtrack can make for an excellent listen as well. You lose the cohesion that an artist or group can put into an album, but you can enjoy a more eclectic mix of tracks that sometimes fit together almost inexplicably.
With that said, and with the Oscars approaching, we’re taking a look back at some of the best film soundtracks we heard in 2017.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
What Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1 did with its soundtrack was very original, and even helped to set the film apart from the rest of the somewhat repetitive Marvel Cinematic Universe. Basically, it turned the lead character’s souvenir tape cassette, “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” into the actual soundtrack of the film. And, predictably but delightfully, the first movie ended with his finding Vol. 2, effectively teasing a whole fan base, leading everyone to wonder what fun music would be featured in the sequel.
Thus, when the music for this sequel was first unveiled online, it was about as big an event as the actual movie trailer. As Indie Wire wrote at the time, Awesome Mixtape #2 is finally here, and it’s a doozy. Featuring, as the same article put it, an eclectic mix including Fleetwood Mac, Sam Cooke, and George Harrison among others, it’s just a bold soundtrack that’s tons of fun throughout. If you just love music without any specific genre limitations, it’s one to own.
A lot of people missed Bright, which is weird given that it was a big budget Will Smith sci-fi film. Then again, the film got horrible reviews, with one of the worst labeling it as a gaudy, overstuffed piece of blockbuster trash. We’ll agree it’s certainly not a great movie. That doesn’t mean it can’t have a great soundtrack though. It got overlooked a little bit because of the aforementioned bad reviews, but the track listing for Bright should be a blast for any modern music fan. Featuring Migos, Meek Mill and Snoop Dogg, Camila Cabello, A$AP Rocky and Tom Morello (on one track), Alt-J, Bastille, Steve Aoki, and Sam Hunt, among others, it’s more or less a who’s who of popular music from the past three years. Not too many films work in that kind of collection these days.
It seems that once a year these days we get at least one major film that’s about music as much as anything else. In 2014 it was Whiplash. In 2015, it was Straight Outta Compton. And in 2016, it was La La Land, an original musical that attracted all the attention heading into the Oscars and is still probably viewed as the year’s most enduring film (even if Moonlight deservedly won Best Picture). This year the leading music movie isn’t necessarily an Oscars contender – but rest assured Baby Driver is as much about music as any of the above.
Ostensibly a heist movie, it played more like director Edgar Wright showing off his all-time greatest Spotify hits. Through the clever gimmick of the lead character listening to music at all times to block a buzzing leftover in his ears from a car accident, the film makes incredible use of music to pace scenes. Some of the noteworthy tracks include “B-A-B-Y” by Carla Thomas, “Debra” by Beck, “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl, and “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Atomic Blonde got most of its attention for outstanding choreography of action sequences and for Charlize Theron’s terrific acting. However, the movie was as much about atmosphere as anything else, and in addition to very cool visuals it utilized a high-energy soundtrack that helped to set it in the time of the story. “Cat People” by David Bowie, “Der Kommissar” by After The Fire, “99 Luftballons” by Nena, and “London Calling” by The Clash are among the highlights.