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100 best movie and TV soundtracks of all time to listen to while social distancing

  • 100 best movie and TV soundtracks of all time to listen to while social distancing

    The connection between visual media and music goes back to the dawn of cinema itself. Even during the silent era, there was a musician perched in the theater, playing deftly alongside the moving images. In the time since, movies or TV shows and music have formed a mutually beneficial relationship. One of the most famous examples: “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, a song that helped make “Titanic” a meteoric smash hit, while also benefiting from the film’s unstoppable popularity.

    There is no shortage of top-notch soundtracks from any given era. Many heighten the film or show’s atmosphere while some just represent a terrific collection of songs. The best of these soundtracks are powerful enough to stick with us for a lifetime. And at a time when up to 97% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders, the arts—whether music, film, or visual arts—have served as a welcomed distraction and even a therapeutic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    To determine the best movie and TV soundtracks of all time, Stacker mined data from Billboard to rank the top 100 out of 1,675 soundtracks. The list is based on Billboard’s methodology and ranking (centered primarily on retail and digital sales in the U.S.), along with the soundtrack’s performance on the Billboard 200 chart. The story features several soundtracks that made it onto the list in the last year to compete for the coveted "Best Soundtrack" award at this year's Billboard Music Awards. 

    Counting down from #100, here are the best movie and TV soundtracks of all time.

    Editor's note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, we at Stacker understand the difficult adjustment to isolation as well as the severe impact on many readers' lives and families. We acknowledge this list is not a solution. We do hope it provides at minimum some reprieve.

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  • #100. Yellow Submarine

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: March 1, 1969

    The Beatles were initially unimpressed with the animation for “Yellow Submarine,” though the bandmates later changed their minds. As a result, they only put together a few new songs for the soundtrack, relying on songs from previous releases. Side two consists of classical-style instrumentals composed and arranged by the band’s producer, George Martin. Both the album and film endure as psychedelic classics.

  • #99. I'm Breathless

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: June 23, 1990

    Pop legend Madonna was on top of the world in 1990, releasing chart-topping albums and starring in Hollywood films. In 1990’s “Dick Tracy,” however, she did both—in addition to playing a lead role, she released “I’m Breathless,” a Broadway-style soundtrack to accompany to the movie, and a fully realized album in its own right.

  • #98. Godzilla - The Album

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: June 13, 1998

    While 1998’s “Godzilla” was widely considered a box office dud, its soundtrack was a popular slice of '90s music culture. Featured on the album are singles from Jamiroquai, The Wallflowers, and Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy). Diddy’s offering, “Come With Me,” received substantial rotation on MTV and the radio, in particular. The song samples a famous Led Zeppelin song, which Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page contributed to on the soundtrack.

  • #97. Bohemian Rhapsody

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: March 2, 2019

    "Bohemian Rhapsody" shattered box office records to earn the distinction of highest-grossing music biopic in the U.S. and around the world, nudging "Straight Outta Compton" into second place. But for all the fanfare surrounding the film and its soundtrack, the album failed in one regard: By not including a new song on the setlist, “Bohemian Rhapsody” neglected to have a shot at Best Song at the Academy Awards. 

  • #96. Hannah Montana 3

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: July 25, 2009

    Years before she shocked audiences with her 2013 VMA performance, Miley Cyrus played a wholesome girl with a secret alter ego on Disney’s “Hannah Montana.” Given that Cyrus’ character was a pop star, it’s no surprise that the series and movie  produced a range of hit soundtracks. Among them was “Hannah Montana 3,” which features songs from the third season, including the singles "He Could Be the One" and "Let's Get Crazy."

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  • #95. La La Land

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: Jan 28, 2017

    Damien Chazelle’s 2017 hit musical “La La Land” is still fresh on everyone’s minds, as are its catchy songs. Featuring performances by the film’s stars, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the soundtrack covers a range of styles, energies, melodies, and moods. Its most popular number, “City of Stars,” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

  • #94. Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: Nov 26, 2005

    Not to be confused with 50 Cent’s debut album of the same name, “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” is the soundtrack to the 2005 film in which he starred. As one might expect, the soundtrack features a bevy of gangster rap songs performed by 50 Cent with fellow artists from his G Unit Label. While the movie underperformed at the box office, the album went triple-platinum, selling more than 3 million copies.  

  • #93. Mission: Impossible 2

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: May 27, 2000

    The second “Mission Impossible” movie has always been something a franchise oddball and the soundtrack is similarly unsubtle. It comes loaded with songs from head-banging outfits like Limp Bizkit, Foo Fighters, Buckcherry, and Rob Zombie. The soundtrack and film may have made loads of money in their respective markets, but thankfully the franchise itself got back on track for the next installment.

  • #92. The Great Gatsby: Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: May 25, 2013

    Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann built his reputation on pairing classic stories with hyperkinetic visuals and modern music, and 2013’s “The Great Gatsby” was no exception. Executive produced by Jay-Z, the film’s soundtrack hosts a bevy of hot talent, with three hit singles: "Young and Beautiful," "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)," and "Bang Bang." As Rolling Stone put it: “This ain’t your great-grandfather’s West Egg.”

  • #91. Tommy

    - Highest rank on Billboard 200: #2
    - Date of soundtrack peak: May 31, 1975

    Director Ken Russell and The Who adapted the band’s best-selling 1969 album “Tommy” for the big screen. Along with the film version came an updated soundtrack, overseen by songwriter and guitarist Pete Townshend. In addition to The Who, the album featured contributions from artists like Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Tina Turner, all of whom also appeared in the film.  

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