A bad movie can have a great soundtrack. But if the soundtrack is lacking, it can take even a great movie down a couple pegs. People often underestimate the importance of a movie's soundtrack. Well-composed scores and on-point needle drops can make an action scene even more epic, (like the soundtrack to Mad Max: Fury Road) or it can make emotional moments bring tears to your eyes (like the song at the end of Me, Earl, & The Dying Girl).
2016 has brought quite a few disappointments as far as movies go, but the soundtracks for those films have been surprisingly epic. I've found myself adding way more movie tracks to my Spotify playlist than I have in the last couple of years. Just in case you're thinking of making a playlist or mixtape of your own, take these selections into consideration.
"X Gon Give It To Ya" — Deadpool
- Movie Release Date: February 12, 2016
- Artist: DMX
- Originally Appeared On: Grand Champ (2003)
- Scene: Deadpool, Negasonic, and Colossus march on Ajax and his goons in order to rescue Vanessa.
2016 started out swinging with one of the biggest blockbusters of recent cinema. Deadpool was a massive success, and much of that was due to the clever marketing strategy behind the film. Many of the trailers featured DMX's "X Gon Give It To Ya," which quickly became a staple of the film.
The song plays near the end of the movie, when Deadpool and his X-Buddies march on Ajax, and it really epitomizes the climax. Heavy hip-hop music playing while super-powered crime-fighters slow-mo walk towards the big baddie? Yep, that wraps up Deadpool in a nutshell.
"Is She With You?" — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Movie Release Date: March 25, 2016
- Artist: Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL
- Originally Appeared On: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Soundtrack (2016)
- Scene: Wonder Woman joins Superman and Batman in the final fight against Doomsday.
Say what you will about Batman v Superman. It was a very divisive film. Some people loved it, and some people hated it. That being said, I'm sure we all can agree that the movie had a killer soundtrack. When the musical minds behind Inception and Mad Max: Fury Road join forces, the result is mind-blowing.
After I left the theater on my first viewing, one piece in particular stood out in my mind. Of course, that was "Is She With You," also known as Wonder Woman's theme. After listening to the song over and over and over again on Spotify, the track never got old. It combines the head-banging heavy beats of Junkie XL with Hans Zimmer's mesmerizing style, which makes it a stand-out when it comes to movie tracks of the year.
"Drive It Like You Stole It" — Sing Street
- Movie Release Date: April 15, 2016
- Artist: Sing Street
- Originally Appeared On: Sing Street Soundtrack (2016)
- Scene: Conor fantasizes about performing at the school prom.
Not all of the highlights of the year have been the big title blockbusters. More than a few indie gems have shattered expectations. Chief amongst them is Sing Street, the story of a boy living in 1980s Dublin who forms a band to impress a girl. The entire movie is packed full of brand new '80s style jams, and one of the stand-out hits of the movie is "Drive It Like You Stole It."
The song takes place late enough in the film for the band to learn their strengths, which they display perfectly in their performance. The song is fresh, catchy, and remains stuck in your head long after the credits roll. In a good way of course.
"I Wan'na Be Like You" — The Jungle Book
- Movie Release Date: April 15, 2016
- Artist: Christopher Walken
- Originally Appeared On: The Jungle Book Soundtrack (2016)
- Scene: Mowgli is taken to meet King Louie late in the film, where Louie introduces himself in song.
When you're remaking a classic animated Disney movie, songs are a good way to work out nostalgia. While we may have gotten a little of Bill Murray singing "The Bare Necessities," the real highlight was Christopher Walken going into full musical-monkey mode with "I Wan'na Be Like You".
Those who remember the animated film probably already know the words to this quick and catchy hit, but hearing Christopher Walken sing his heart out as a giant ape was not only a stand-out moment in the soundtrack, but in the entire film. If only the song had a little more cow bell.
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"What Have I Become" — Green Room
- Movie Release Date: April 29, 2016
- Artist: The Ain't Rights
- Originally Appeared On: Green Room Soundtrack (2016)
- Scene: An early performance by the band before everything goes horrifically wrong.
Back in the world of indie movies, Green Room is certainly on the opposite end of the spectrum as Sing Street. Instead of fun and family-friendly, Green Room is dark and creepy. However, both indie flicks center around a band. Instead of '80s jams, Green Room opts instead for hardcore metal songs.
"What Have I Become" is one of the first times that you see the whole band together, and you see their synergy at work. The metal music showcases their energy and spirit, which comes into play later when they are fighting for their lives against Patrick Stewart and his group of Neo-Nazis.
"Clash" — Captain America: Civil War
- Movie Release Date: May 6, 2016
- Artist: Henry Jackman
- Originally Appeared On: Captain America: Civil War Soundtrack (2016)
- Scene: Tony and Cap battle it out after learning a terrible secret about Tony's parents.
Marvel blew our minds yet again with their latest blockbuster: Captain America: Civil War. The movie combined everything that we loved from both The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Civil War had engaging action-packed moments as well as emotional ones, and Henry Jackman's soundtrack made every moment hit harder and harder.
"The Clash" was both an emotional and thrilling scene, as the two flagship heroes of the MCU had to throw away their friendship and beat each other savagely. The track captures the scene perfectly, with both high points and low-points. When you combine the two, you get an epic score for an epic cinematic moment.
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" — X-Men: Apocalypse
- Movie Release Date: May 27, 2016
- Artist: Eurythmics
- Originally Appeared On: Sweet Dreams (1983)
- Scene: Quicksilver's awesome slow-mo scene.
I think we can all agree that Quicksilver's slow-motion scenes have been some of the best moments of recent X-Men films. The most recent, X-Men: Apocalypse, showed Quicksilver saving all the mutants of Xavier's School, all while "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" plays in the background.
The three-minute scene is hilarious and visually spectacular. Coupled with the Eurythmics song, the new Quicksilver moment continues to be a favorite in the pantheon of memorable X-Men moments.
"The Boy's Drawings" — The BFG
- Movie Release Date: July 1, 2016
- Artist: John Williams
- Originally Appeared On: The BFG Soundtrack
- Scene: Sophie and the BFG go to collect various dreams.
John Williams is perhaps the greatest composer in cinema history. His work can be found in the soundtracks of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jaws, and Superman. Earlier this summer, Williams paired up with Steven Spielberg once again for a Roald Dahl tale: The BFG.
The BFG is a return to the spectacular and whimsical side of Spielberg which is greatly elevated by Williams' masterful work. "The Boy's Drawings" in particular stands out in the soundtrack. The track showcases the childhood whimsy that the movie is full of, and adds to Williams' impressive track record.
"Sabotage" — Star Trek: Beyond
- Movie Release Date: July 22, 2016
- Artist: The Beastie Boys
- Originally Appeared On: III Communication (1994)
- Scene: A space battle towards the end of the film.
When the first Star Trek: Beyond trailer hit the web, the use of "Sabotage" concerned a lot of movie-goers. Critics were saying that the trailer looked more Fast & Furious than Star Trek, but that was before they got to see the movie.
Even though Beyond was the latest installment in a much-beloved science-fiction franchise, it made great use of the '90s hit in a way that audiences didn't expect. I don't want to give away the third act of the film, but believe me when I say that the song was in the trailer for a reason, and not because it's a fun, catchy song.
"Heathens" — Suicide Squad
- Movie Release Date: August 5, 2016
- Artist: Twenty-One Pilots
- Originally Appeared On: Suicide Squad Soundtrack (2016)
- Scene: Although the song was featured heavily in the promotional material, it only plays during the credits of the film.
Suicide Squad is fully packed with many catchy and popular songs, such as "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Ballroom Blitz," but it's the song that plays at the very end that captures the true spirit of the film. "Heathens" was released early, with a music video that dropped in June before the film premiered in August. The song was an instant hit, accruing over 240 million views over the last couple of months.
With lines like "we don't play with outsiders very well" and "please don't make any sudden moves," the song accurately portrays the hostile and difficult nature of the group. It's not often that a single song can sum up the tone of an entire movie, but "Heathens" hits it right on the mark.
With the year coming to a close in a few short months, there aren't that many big soundtracks to look forward to. Maybe Rogue One, Dr. Strange, and Fantastic Beasts can blow our minds, but until then we have plenty of awesome tracks and scores to listen to on repeat.