Giant Magazine selects the Top 50 Soundtracks of All Time

By Chris Parry
Posted 01/13/06 18:54:31

Whenever anyone deems themselves worthy of picking the top [insert number here] anythings of all time, there's no shortage of people who will line up to poopoo the selections as being wrong. Who could forget the AFI's decision to put West Side Story ahead of Taxi Driver in the Top 100 films of All Time, or "La-dee-da, la-dee-da" from Annie Hall ahead of "Say hello to my li'l friend!" from Scarface in the Top 100 Movie Quotes? Was Mrs Doubtfire really the 67th greatest comedy ever, three places ahead of Caddyshack and 23 ahead of Fargo?

I guess it's all subjective, and so when the folks at Giant Magazine decided to peel off the Top 50 soundtracks ever, our first reaction was to start picking holes in their selection.. Our second reaction? Applause. Sure, there are titles we can't believe aren't represented, and yeah, plenty that are represented that we wouldn't have in our CD player if you paid us, but as far as lists go, this ain't a bad one.

So decided to talk to the writer of the piece, Brian Raftery, to see how his compadres came up with their choices.

To see Giant's full list of the Top 50 soundtracks ever, pick up their February '06 issue, on newsstands now. But to whet your appetite, here's the Top 15:

1. The Graduate
2. Purple Rain
3. Pulp Fiction
4. The Harder They Come
5. Rushmore
6. Help
7. Trainspotting
8. Lost in Translation
9. Saturday Night Fever
10. North By Northwest
11. Boogie Nights
12. Less Than Zero
13. Repo Man
14. Above The Rim
15. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut

Q: Brian, obviously with a list like this, it's all very open to personal preference. How many people decided the list, and what was the criteria for high ranking?
BR: It actually came down to myself and just a few editors, but we tried to keep the list as wide-ranging as possible. It's easy to reel off a bunch of titles off the top of your head, but in order to get a well-rounded assortment, you have to ask yourself: What sort of cultural impact can this record claim? Does it hold up as an actual album, rather than just a bunch of slapped-together tunes? Does it feature numerous Michael Sembello songs? These questions all helped shape the list.

Q: Did you find that, once you'd gone to print, you discovered a whole lot of soundtracks suddenly springing to mind that you just can't believe you forgot?
BR: With any list, you get those "What the hell was I thinking?" panics, but that stuff will drive you crazy after a while. I was worried that something great would come out after we closed, but that didn't happen. Then again, I didn't listen to the "Cheaper By The Dozen 2" soundtrack, so maybe I'm missing out.

Q: Clearly you've gone more for soundtracks that have a contemporary collection of popular music, rather than the sweeping orchestral scores like Braveheart or Batman Begins, or musicals like Moulin Rouge or Romeo+Juliet. Conscious choice?
BR: You can't pit pop soundtracks versus score soundtracks. The musical styles are just too different, and besides, the list would have ballooned to 300 entries. Besides, now we have a good excuse to do a sequel.

Q: Which three of these soundtracks would you say have spent the most time in your CD player since the article was written?
BR: If I was trying to be cool, I'd say Purple Rain, Morvern Callar and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; if I was being honest, I'd say Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon. I love me some Brian May solos.

Q: Were you tempted at all to include TV soundtracks in the list, like maybe Scrubs, The OC, or China Beach?
BR: Despite the fact that "The Rockford Files" theme may be the greatest piece of music ever recorded, I'm still not convinced there are enough great TV soundtracks to put them in the running. Plus, a lot of those collections don't always include the best songs from the show, and many older shows are hard to track down on CD.

Q: If you were to create the soundtrack for your life, which five tracks from soundtracks on this list would be included?
BR: "Take Me With U" from Purple Rain; "I Want More" from Morvern Callar; the theme from "The Taking of Pelham 123"; "Sing" from Transpotting; and, even though I've never been a big Luscious Jackson fan, "Why Do I Lie?" from Good Will Hunting is their one great moment.

Q: Are we in the golden age of movie soundtracks right now?
BR: Yes and No. It's true that there's no shortage of music-nerd directors--Noah Baumbach, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, anyone whose last name is Anderson--and that's been great for other music nerds. But most record labels still treat soundtracks as improbably crappy cash-cows, filling them up with songs that claim to be "inspired by" the movie, but really don't have anything to do with the director's vision. Really, when was the last time anyone was "inspired by" a lame Nickelback number?

Q: If Ferris Bueller's Day Off had ever received a soundtrack release... does it make your list?
BR: I think it deserves a special award for its inclusion of Yello's "Oh Yeah," seemingly the most-soundtracked song of all time.

Q: Are you mentally prepared for the shitstorm of letters saying, "WHAT?! You didn't list O Brother, Where Art Thou or the Big Lebowski!?" - and - "How can you not mention Flashdance or Dirty Dancing!" - Do you have the valium scrip filled yet, or are you just going to tough it out?
BR: Dirty Dancing and Flashdance? Bring 'em on. Anyone who sits down and listens to them front-to-back would have to admit that they've got about three good songs apiece, and then a bunch of filler (same goes with Ghostbusters). As for the Coen movies...I'd rather take an Ambien. That way I can sleep through all the angry calls.

BONUS FEATURE! To help celebrate Giant's list, we're playing one track from every soundtrack on their Top 50 on the Hollywood Bitchslap internet radio station, every night from 11:30pm Pacific through to 3am, as well as on Friday nights from 6:30pm to 10:00pm.

All you need is a copy of Winamp (or other approved MP3 playing software) and a little spare time... oh, and your February '06 copy of Giant.

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