20 of the greatest '90s movie soundtracks
Dust off your Discman
With Cruel Intentions turning 20 this year — and getting a full EW oral history in celebration — it's time to throw it back to the golden age of movie soundtracks. Yes, we're talking Wild Wild West. We're talking Singles. We. Are talking. Titanic. Read on for 20 bangin' playlists from a truly dope decade.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
The producers almost couldn’t afford to use the film’s iconic closing track, they revealed in EW’s oral history, but ultimately dropped a chunk of the budget to secure it. Shall we toast to their triumph?
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” The Verve
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
We’re talking about the party of the century. That demands a legendary playlist.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby,” Smash Mouth
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
But soft, what song through yonder speaker breaks? It is “Lovefool,” and up next is “Kissing You.”
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Lovefool,” The Cardigans
Wild Wild West (1999)
If we had to choose between Wild Wild West, the movie, and “Wild Wild West,” its iconic theme song, well…
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Wild Wild West,” Will Smith
Even over two decades later, we’re struggling to think of anything cooler than the original Trainspotting album.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Lust for Life,” Iggy Pop (with David Bowie)
Empire Records (1995)
It’s a movie in a record store, okay? The Empire Records soundtrack isn’t messing around!
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “’Til I Hear It From You,” The Gin Blossoms
Reality Bites (1994)
Play this album on repeat while reflecting upon the definition of the word "irony."
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Stay (I Missed You),” Lisa Loeb
The Bodyguard (1992)
And weeeeeee… will always love this soundtraaaaaaaaaack…
ESSENTIAL TRACK: "I Will Always Love You," Whitney Houston
Pulp Fiction (1994)
If only Quentin Tarantino could curate the soundtrack for all our lives! Or at least all our dance-offs.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “You Never Can Tell,” Chuck Berry
Cameron Crowe takes music seriously, so it should come as no surprise that his 1992 rom-com comes with an expertly curated Seattle grunge playlist.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Breath,” Pearl Jam (who cameoed in the film)
American Pie (1999)
Like the film itself, the American Pie soundtrack is a perfect glimpse into the souls of late ’90s American teenage boys — for better or worse.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “New Girl,” Third Eye Blind (whose “Semi-Charmed Life” also appears in the movie, but not on the soundtrack)
Spice World (1997)
I wanna really really really wanna put this girl-powered Spice-fest on repeat!
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Wannabe,” The Spice Girls (who else?)
That Thing You Do! (1996)
One-hit wonders, sure. But what a hit it was! The title track, written for the movie, became a real-life hit to match its onscreen popularity.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “That Thing You Do,” The Wonders (a.k.a. The Oneders)
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
We don’t hate this, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “I Want You to Want Me,” Letters to Cleo (who also covered "Cruel to Be Kind" and provided two original songs for the film)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
How do you like them indie rock hits?
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Miss Misery,” Elliott Smith (who provided several songs for the soundtrack)
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Clearly John Cusack put years of prep work into his performance as an obsessive music snob in 2000’s High Fidelity, considering the consistently on-point song selection for Grosse Pointe Blank.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Blister in the Sun,” Violent Femmes
If the world must come to an end, at least Aerosmith will be there to sing us off.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith (who provided several songs for the soundtrack)
You see how picky Cher is about her shoes, and they only go on her feet. Imagine how selective she must be for the tunes she lets in her ears!
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Supermodel,” Jill Sobule
Batman Forever (1995)
It may not be the best Batman movie, but it’s got Seal!
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Kiss from a Rose,” Seal
Our hearts — and this melody — will go on.
ESSENTIAL TRACK: You're kidding, right?