Finding the best music to go with great films isn’t easy – but it happens. And each time a winning soundtracks hits the stores, people can’t resist buying the music that went with a film that meant a lot to them. That’s what a winning soundtrack does – it reminds people of the film that inspired the music. In turn, it inspires listeners. Here’s Soultrain.com’s list of some of our favorite soundtracks of all time. They are in no absolute order:
It turned out that Whitney Houston didn’t just have the voice, but she also had some major acting chops. If her performance in The Bodyguard opposite Kevin Costner wasn’t enough, her vocals carried this soundtrack to the top of the charts. Surprise? Definitely not. This album gave us mega hits “I Will Always Love You” and “I Have Nothing”, and that’s just the big ones.
Waiting to Exhale
This is the perfect soundtrack to light a car on fire to – just ask Angela Basset’s character in the film. Waiting to Exhale was an important film for a couple of reasons, but the soundtrack was amazing too. Babyface took the helms and did the production work for this great album. Standout tracks from Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and of course, Whitney Houston, make this album memorable. But it was “Not Gon’ Cry” by Mary J. Blige that would become the film’s anthem.
Sparkle opened during a time when Blaxploitation reigned supreme. But it wasn’t your average black film. The characters were relatable and the music was phenomenal. One wouldn’t expect anything less from music legend Curtis Mayfield, who produced all of the music. The soundtrack featured select songs from the film by Aretha Franklin, who put her soulful vocals to work in the best way.
Superfly was another major classic during the 70s with a soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. The music was brilliant – perfect for Cadillac driving. The instrumentals made this soundtrack even more exciting.
Cadillac Records was a fairly decent film, but the soundtrack is certainly the big winner. Beyoncé did a fabulous job singing some of Etta James’ big hits. The other cast members gave true performances as well. The soundtrack is a must-have.
Buy music from Love Jones on iTunes
Set in Chicago against a neo-soul background, Love Jones is always going to be a classic romantic film that captured twentysomethings’ 90s angst. That means poetry, cigarettes and plenty of Maxwell. It turns out that the soundtrack was exactly the same – and it even included audio of stars Larenz Tate and Nia Long performing their spoken-word from the film.
Jamie Foxx’s role as Ray Charles got him his first Academy Award, and it was certainly deserved. The film gave Charles the praise that he deserved as being the true musical genius that he was. The soundtrack is a great addition to any collection.
The Prince of Egypt: Inspirational
This was a great gospel album to accompany the animated film loosely based on the story of Moses and his climb from a Prince and adopted son of Ramses, to the chosen one used to free of Jews from bondage. This soundtrack features an early track from Tye Tribbett before his career took off. In addition, Fred Hammond, Boyz II Men, and Bebe Winans contributed to the winning album.
The Preacher’s Wife
Whitney Houston did the music for this incredible soundtrack to accompany The Preacher’s Wife, in which she starred opposite Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance. The gospel tracks are memorable, but not surprising – after all, Ms. Houston got her start singing in the church. The album also features a song with her mother gospel singer Cissy Houston.
The Gospel featured an all-star cast and the soundtrack helped bring out gospel artists that we missed. Yolanda Adams’ inspirationally charged “Victory” topped the charts due no doubt to the success of the film. Tamyra Gray from the first season of American Idol also starred in the film and contributed vocals.
–James R. Sanders
James R. Sanders regularly contributes to The Huffington Post, AskMen.com, Uptown Magazine and Obvious Magazine. He is currently finishing up his debut novel, Born in Sin. He writes the Soul Chic column for SoulTrain.com. Follow James on Twitter @JamesRSanders and visit his blog http://www.JamesSandersatLarge.tumblr.com.