The Greatest Movie Soundtracks Ever, Part 5: 1990-1999

We’ve almost arrived at the present in our ongoing adventure through the greatest movie soundtracks ever, but first we need to negotiate the decade when the idea of soundtrack albums featuring a bunch of contemporary bands truly became big business: the 1990s. It was in the ’90s that the concept of “soundtrack” and “score” really diverged, with producers often using the “songs from and inspired by” caveat to create what were pretty much de facto compilation albums of songs that may or may not have actually been used in the movie in question but were still sold under its brand. Even ignoring such malarkey, there are plenty of great soundtracks to be found from the ’90s – here’s our selection for ten of the best.

Singles (1992)

There were plenty of attempts to define and capture the spirit of Generation X in the early ’90s, generally accompanied by soundtracks featuring the music of the time – see also Reality Bites, Clerks, etc. In terms of being in exactly the right place at the right time, however, nothing got close to Cameron Crowe’s Singles – the soundtrack dropped just as grunge went overground, selling bucketloads of copies and becoming a de facto grunge best-of that nestled happily next to Nevermind, Vs., and Badmotorfinger in the record collections of disaffected teens the world over. Fun fact: apparently “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was also going to feature on this soundtrack, but had to be dropped because by the time the film came out, it was too expensive to buy the rights to the song – a sure sign that grunge’s underground status was well and truly consigned to the past.