Camera, lights, music Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is only the latest movie made better by a killer soundtrack

Groot, err, great news for fans of the rock band Heart: within days of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 landing in North American movie theatres on May 5, Crazy on You, a cut from Heart’s 1975 debut album, Dreamboat Annie, that appears on the Guardians 3 soundtrack, became one of Apple Music’s most-streamed songs.

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Groot, err, great news for fans of the rock band Heart: within days of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 landing in North American movie theatres on May 5, Crazy on You, a cut from Heart’s 1975 debut album, Dreamboat Annie, that appears on the Guardians 3 soundtrack, became one of Apple Music’s most-streamed songs.

Ditto Spacehog’s In the Meantime, which also rears its trippy head on the Marvel Studios film’s soundtrack. Last time we checked, In the Meantime was Apple Music’s third-most downloaded tune, 18 years after its original release.

Older songs receiving a second life on the charts via the big screen isn’t a new phenomenon.

Rock Around the Clock, a No. 1 smash for Bill Haley & His Comets in 1955, cracked the Billboard Top 40 again in 1974, after serving as the title theme for the ’50s-based coming-of-age flick American Graffiti.

Then there was 1983’s The Big Chill. Not only did the Academy Award-nominated feature spawn a Motown-heavy soundtrack that has sold more than six million copies to date, it also resulted in a bit of a cottage industry, via a series of compilation albums that were issued under the banner The Good-Feeling Music of the Big Chill Generation!! (Try as they might, producers of the album set were never able to include the Rolling Stones anthem You Can’t Always Get What You Want. That was the song playing in the background at the funeral of Alex Marshall, the person whose death by suicide was the movie’s entire raison d’etre.)

Furthermore, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, the soundtrack for the 2014 blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, became the first motion-picture soundtrack composed wholly of previously released songs to top the Billboard album chart when it hit store shelves nine years ago.

Included on it were Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky, the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back and — ooga chaka, hooga hooga! — Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling.

To mark the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 soundtrack, which also contains essential needle-drops Creep by Radiohead and No Sleep Till Brooklyn by the Beastie Boys, we thought we’d highlight other soundtracks that, unlike the My Fair Ladys and Purple Rains of the world, consisted largely of older songs that were dusted off and freshened up for a moviegoing public.

FM (1978)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Spend a few hours listening to classic-rock radio and it’s likely you’ll hear six or seven songs, minimum, that appeared on FM, the soundtrack to the 1978 film many say inspired the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

All the usual suspects — Boston (More Than a Feeling), Foreigner (Cold as Ice), Eagles (Life in the Fast Lane) — are present and accounted for. That may explain why the record was a bigger hit with audiences than the movie, which starred Martin Mull and Eileen Brennan as disc jockeys who take over a station to protest a change in format.

FM was a dud at the box office but the soundtrack, whose lone original track was the title cut by Steely Dan, now an FM staple in its own right, sold close to two million copies.

Other earworms: Tumbling Dice (Linda Ronstadt), Night Moves (Bob Seger); Life’s Been Good (Joe Walsh)

More American Graffiti (1979)

The film More American Graffiti picked up a few years after American Graffiti, the latter of which followed a group of friends on their last night together before they individually headed off to college.

The soundtrack from the first movie was a tremendous hit with record buyers. It went triple-platinum in the U.S. alone. For our money, though, More American Graffiti boasts the superior playlist.

Universal Pictures

The soundtrack of George Lucas’s coming-of-age film American Graffiti was a tremendous hit with record buyers.

All 24 songs on the double album were recorded between 1962 and 1967, and cover a variety of genres. Fans of Motown can shimmy to Martha and the Vandellas’ Heat Wave, British Invasion connoisseurs can crank the volume on the Zombies’ She’s Not There and if Bob Dylan is your jam, there’s Just Like a Woman and Like a Rolling Stone, as well as a cover of Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, courtesy the Byrds.

Other earworms: Moon River (Andy Williams), My Guy (Mary Wells), Hang on Sloopy (McCoys)

Goodfellas (1990)

According to internet sources, 44 separate songs are heard during Goodfellas’ 146-minute running time. An even dozen found their way onto the film’s soundtrack album, including Layla by Derek & the Dominoes, which film buffs may recall was blasting away shortly before — spoiler alert — Joe Pesci’s character bit the dust.

One movie critic cited Goodfellas’ eclectic soundtrack in a glowing review, writing director Martin Scorsese’s music selections added “to the brilliance of the movie, with perfectly placed songs.”

Warner Bros.

Martin Scorsese’s music selections in Goodfellas added ‘to the brilliance of the movie,’ one critic says.

Rolling Stone magazine concurred. In 2019, following the release of The Wolf of Wall Street, that publication ran an article titled Martin Scorsese’s Music: An A to Z Guide to the Director’s Soundtracks. Five tracks from Goodfellas made the cut: the Crystals’ Then He Kissed Me, Donovan’s Atlantis, Harry Nilsson’s Jump Into the Fire, Sid Vicious’s cover of My Way and the aforementioned Layla.

Other earworms: Mannish Boy (Muddy Waters), Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Would Forrest Gump have had as much of an impact on audiences if Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son wasn’t cranked to 11 when Forrest (Tom Hanks) was shipped off to Vietnam? Or when Forrest showed off his table tennis skills to the beat of Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World? Or when he decided to head out for an extended jog, accompanied by the Doobie Brothers’ It Keeps You Runnin’?

Likely not.

Allstar / Paramount

The Forrest Gump soundtrack hit No. 1 in Canada.

O Canada: the Forrest Gump soundtrack, which hit No. 2 in the States, topped the Canadian album chart in September 1994. That accomplishment was aided in part by two Canuck artists, Neil Young (represented on Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth) and Dennis Doherty, a member of the Mamas and the Papas, whose California Dreaming figured in the mix.

Other earworms: Sloop John B (Beach Boys), Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)

Almost Famous (2000)

We’re willing to go on record stating Tiny Dancer wasn’t anybody’s favourite Elton John song before it was featured prominently in Almost Famous. The memorable scene occurred when everybody aboard a bus carrying fictional rock band Stillwater belted the song out at the top of their lungs.

Neal Preston

Almost Famous was the second film to win a Grammy for best compilation soundtrack for visual media.

Almost Famous became the second film to win a Grammy Award for best compilation soundtrack for visual media, a category established in 2000. The original soundtrack contained 17 songs, but a 20th anniversary, super-deluxe edition released in July 2021 had five times that many. Among those was the very singalong version of Tiny Dancer heard in the film, now attributed to “Elton John, Stillwater & Cast.”

Other earworms: It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Todd Rundgren), America (Simon & Garfunkel), Slip Away (Clarence Carter)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

In 2021, Far Out magazine issued a 153-song playlist composed entirely of tunes that played a supporting role in movies directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Grand idea! After all, the Academy Award-winning moviemaker once said, “One of the things I do when I am starting a movie… is go through my record collection and just start playing songs, trying to find the personality of the movie, find the spirit of the movie.”

Columbia Pictures

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and Brad Pitt, makes excellent use of music, including a Neil Diamond gem.

Cueing up Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man in Pulp Fiction was a stroke of genius. So was his settling on Stuck in the Middle With You, by Stealer’s Wheel, for a particularly uncomfortable sequence during Reservoir Dogs.

For our money, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s soundtrack takes the cake. That’s because we’re a sucker for Neil Diamond, whose Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show is front and centre, as is a cover of Diamond’s 1967 hit Kentucky Woman, by British rockers Deep Purple.

Other earworms: Hungry (Paul Revere and the Raiders), The Circle Game (Buffy Sainte-Marie), You Keep Me Hangin’ On (Vanilla Fudge)

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David Sanderson

Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.


Updated on Saturday, May 20, 2023 11:17 AM CDT: Minor edit

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