The ‘90s: When soundtracks ROCKED!
2020 ushered in the musical comeback that few were expecting. Wyld Stallyns were back! The triumphant return of “Ted” Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq. and the presence of their new film’s most excellent soundtrack, prompted us to take a look back at the music from some of the best tunes from ‘90s’ Rocker Movies.
While the soundtrack to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, released in 1989, was a largely unmemorable collection of hard rock second-stringers, by the time the sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was released two years later, the soundtrack was looking to become a much bigger deal. Featuring a raft of well-known bands like Megadeth and Faith No More, several of the artists, including the band Primus, actually appear in the film itself.
The success of the Bogus Journey soundtrack and the interest in the grungy sounds coming out of Seattle primed the pump for the film Singles and its accompanying collection of music. Once again, casting musicians from the soundtrack in actual roles in the film helped bring a sense of authenticity, and wide-ranging soundtrack pulling from Seattle mainstays like Soundgarden and Mudhoney, and mixing with sounds from The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg, The Smashing Pumpkins and more.
Not only did Singles help kick open the door for Grunge, it was one of the first ‘90s soundtracks to hit the Top 10 and be certified platinum, paving the way for a new wave of soundtrack successes, some of which have left behind an even stronger legacy than that of the movies the were created for.
Judgement Night wasn’t a bad film, but it would probably have been forgotten entirely if not for its boundary-breaking soundtrack concept. Plenty of artists had mixed the sounds of hip-hop with that of rock, from Public Enemy sampling Slayer, to Run-DMC’s Rock Box, all the way through to Rage Against the Machine, but no one had ever thought to team up rock artists with hip-hop crews until now.
Pairing gruff rap acts like Onyx and House of Pain with contemporary rockers like Biohazard and Helmet made a certain kind of sense, but the soundtrack also made room for stranger collaborations like Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul or Dinosaur Jr. with Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. Nevertheless, to some, Music From the Motion Picture Judgement Night is even considered a foundational document in the history of Nu-Metal.
1994 brought The Crow, a dark movie, with a dark story behind the scenes, and it seems appropriate that the soundtrack’s collection of dark music was a huge success. Adapted from the comics of James O’Barr, which were highly influenced by the music of The Cure and Joy Division, the soundtrack made sure to include had both a new song from The Cure and a Joy Division cover by Nine Inch Nails to set the perfect mood. Adding in rockers like Pantera and Stone Temple Pilots meant there was something to appeal to almost everyone, and the strategy seems to have worked. The album was a smash, even topping Billboard’s album chart!
- Eric Bowden