Original Soundtracks are part of what give a movie its livelihood. If we look at the most successful soundtracks in recent history, they tend to correspond heavily to the movie to which they belong. Furthermore, when we hear a song from a successful soundtrack, we are often reminded of the movie they belong to, and frequently the time in our own lives when that movie came out.
One classic, perhaps the classic soundtrack was for the movie “The Bodyguard.” This is not just a soundtrack, as it happens, but is also one of the world’s best selling albums of all time. It featured six titles by Whitney Houston, who was at the pinnacle of her musical career. Her remake of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” spent fourteen weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the most successful single in Billboard History at the time. She went on to have two more top ten hits and even two more #1 Dance singles. Later on in the decade, the soundtrack for “Titanic” would achieve similar success, but on the laurels of only one song, “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion, which spent 11 weeks on top of Billboard’s singles chart.
Soundtracks continue to play a pivotal role in today’s culture, and the lead singles from these soundtracks continue to have an insane amount of success. The soundtrack to “Frozen” spent half a year at #1 on Billboard album charts, even despite it being a winter album. Outside of the success of Idina Menzel’s “Let it Go,” which spent a healthy amount of time on top of several charts, people we’re singing winter songs well into the summertime with that soundtrack.
The soundtrack to “Despicable Me 2” was sprung forward with the help of Pharrell Williams “Happy,” both a fun song and one that called back to the soul groove of the tin pan alley of America’s 30’s and 40’s. In fact, this song became so enigmatic, it almost surpassed the movie itself in pop culture, as many people took to social media to interpret the music video for themselves.
The current best selling soundtrack is that to “Suicide Squad,” which was headed off with the single “Heathens” by Twenty-One Pilots. The Christian rock duo has gone above and beyond what any other in its genre has done to cross over into the secular world. It was one of the best selling singles in 2016 and 2017, topping off at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, a feat that is not easily surpassed for a rock song in a day when hip-hop and R&B rules all. The album has yielded many other hit singles, and the sequel to the movie will no doubt yield yet another hit soundtrack.
Soundtracks set the tone for a season, define generations of music, and perhaps more than anything else, they find their audience with a wide variety of people, because they don’t have to be limited to one single movement or genre in music. All of the aforementioned soundtracks feature at least two distinct sounds, the benefactors are almost always us, the listeners!
*All chart information is attributed to Billboard magazine, who uses Nielsen Soundscan to help determine the week’s best songs and albums*