30 of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time

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screenshot, Saturday Night Fever / Paramount Pictures

to imagine trainspotting Without “lust for life”. do the right thing Without “fight with power.” shaft Without… “Shaft.” you can not. Choosing the right song can make a good cinematic moment great, and a bad one can ruin an otherwise decent scene.

There’s an art to making a stellar movie soundtrack, and too many of them fail to strike that balance. Some may have a memorable single, but don’t come close to offering an album worth listening to outside of a movie. The best movie soundtracks succeed in supporting the films they were created for, but at the same time stand alone—they benefit from the context provided by the films, but are also solid listens on their own.

Compiling a list of some of the best soundtrack albums ever requires a few ground rules: no out-and-out music, mostly; It seems appropriate to set them off in a separate category. In addition, soundtrack albums have to mostly feature music actually used in the film; The few songs that didn’t make it into the finished film are forgivable, but none of these are “business inspired”. All of these albums should be readily available wherever you stream music.

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