Cast your mind back to your favourite films of all time and you’ll probably notice they all have one thing in common. A soundtrack that packs a punch. Movie soundtracks — whether orchestral scores or jukebox compilations — are as much a part of our favourite movies as the actors, special effects or action. If you’re looking to revisit some of the most iconic movie music, with a side helping of ’90s nostalgia, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our favourite ’90s movie soundtracks.
No movie soundtrack listicle can exist without at least ONE mention of the veteran composer, John Williams, whose reputation certainly by now precedes him. Jurassic Park was a major event in the ’90s, exposing us to an entirely new world that reached beyond our imaginations of what cinema could be at the time. John Williams underscored the wonder at seeing (what looked like) real dinosaurs perfectly, creating a soaring, magical soundtrack that still sends tingles down the spine and has been sampled in every Jurassic movie since. Those first solitary horn notes can only mean one thing: a T-Rex must be close by.
The Lion King
Bang in the middle of Disney’s ’90s renaissance, The Lion King cleared the savannah of all competition when it came to the perfect combination soundtrack. Firstly, bringing Elton John on board was a stroke of genius, giving the movie enduring hits like “Circle of Life”‘, “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, which we’re sure are some of the most requested karaoke tracks to this day. Secondly, the African arrangements give the movie a unique sound that just makes everything 100 times more epic (“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba” anyone)? But thirdly — and most importantly — Hans Zimmer‘s instrumentals that score pivotal moments like Mufasa’s death and Simba rejoining the Pride are heartbreakingly atmospheric.
The first five minutes of Wayne’s World set the tone, with the gang enjoying a glorious carpool karaoke singalong to “Bohemian Rhapsody” — while trying not to hurl. From then on, the movie is a musical delight for all classic rock aficionados, featuring tracks from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and that unforgettable ‘live’ performance from Alice Cooper. We’re not worthy. Culminating in Tia Carrere’s surprisingly good rendition of “Ballroom Blitz” as we witness the film’s deluge of alternative endings, Wayne’s World has you reaching for your air guitar from beginning to end.
When you think of Tarantino’s iconic movie, what springs to mind? Uma Thurman and John Travolta dancing to Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” is probably up there. Pulp Fiction is a movie oozing with eclectic style, with one foot in nostalgia and the other in the edgy reality of murdering criminals, so it’s only right that the soundtrack reflects this dual tone. What we get is a timeless, tasty burger, filled with ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, smooth soul and psychedelic pop that wouldn’t be out of place on a hipster café’s playlist today. Not to mention those iconic opening titles.
Let’s forget for a moment how much this soundtrack has been used on Christmas adverts, and just listen. Because it’s MAGICAL. Edward Scissorhands is part of Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman’s long-standing partnership that has seen them create chilling atmospheres for The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland and countless others. But this has to be the best example of their special formula. Elfman’s score, with the haunting combination of tubular bells, distant choirs and rumbling bass notes, foreshadows John Williams’ later work on Harry Potter and Home Alone. Most importantly, it serves the perfect backdrop to Burton’s tragic winter tale of love and loss.
Romeo + Juliet
The soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s super stylish retelling of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy is the epitome of all that was cool about the ’90s — and yet it’s still somehow timeless. From the flamboyant, cross-dressing Mercutio strutting his stuff to “Young Hearts Run Free”, to the star-crossed lovers sharing in their first kiss to Des’ree’s sombre “Kissing You”, Romeo + Juliet is underscored by music that heightens the melodrama at every turn. The biggest stroke of genius is the young choir (fronted by Quindon Tarver) performing their versions of “Everybody’s Free” and “When Doves Cry”. Soulful purity + an underlying darkness = shivers.