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Entertainment Weekly


20 of the greatest '90s movie soundtracks

Posted on

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

Trainspotting (1996)

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 soundtraaaaaaaaaackESSENTIAL 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

Singles (1992)

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)  
Hollywood Records

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)
Hollywood Records

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)
Hollywood Records

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
Hollywood Records

Armageddon (1998)

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)
Hollywood Records

Clueless (1995)

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
Hollywood Records

Batman Forever (1995)

It may not be the best Batman movie, but it’s got Seal!   ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Kiss from a Rose,” Seal
Hollywood Records

Titanic (1997)

Our hearts — and this melody — will go on.  ESSENTIAL TRACK: You're kidding, right?