A lot goes into making a movie special. There’s the cinematography, direction, costumes, and of course the actors. But another aspect of a film is the music that plays in it, especially those that create a pivotal scene that the movie becomes known for. The 1990s has a wide range of popular movie soundtracks, from nostalgic hits to pop and grunge. Below is a breakdown of a few classic songs from movies, as well as a Spotify playlist that features even more.
Best Movie Soundtracks of the 1990s
The Body Guard – I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton Cover) by Whitney Houston
Although originally a Dolly Parton song, Whitney Houston recorded a version for the 1992 film The Bodyguard, which she starred in. It spent 14 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Charts and became one of the best-selling singles of all time. The film features four other Whitney Houston tracks, which were all hit singles for her – “I’m Every Woman” (Originally sung by Chaka Khan), “Queen of the Night”, and the two Oscar-nominated songs “I Have Nothing” and “Run to You.” Other artists who appear on the soundtrack are Kenny G, Lisa Stansfield, and Curtis Singers. The soundtrack album is the best-selling album by a female in history and the 5th best-selling album of all-time and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Singles – Breath by Pearl Jam
“Breath” first appeared on the soundtrack to the 1992 film Singles , which takes place in Seattle and focuses on the grunge scene. The song was included on Pearl Jam’s 2004 greatest hits album, and an earlier version, called “Breath and a Scream” was part of the reissue of their debut album Ten in 2009. The soundtrack to Singles helped open the door to the popularity of Seattle grunge in the early 1990’s and was ranked #19 on Rolling Stone’s April 2019 list of “50 Greatest Grunge Albums.” Other artists featured on the album are Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and the Screaming Trees, but “Breath” is a stand-out song.
That Thing You Do! – That Thing You Do by The Wonders
“That Thing You Do” is performed by the fictional 1960’s band The Wonders for the film That Thing You Do!, which focuses on the band’s quick rise to fame. The soundtrack album features other songs that the Wonders sang, but in the film, “That Thing You Do” was mostly a one-hit wonder for them. The song peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe award for Best Original Song in 1997. In the film, the song was written by lead singer and guitarist Jimmy Mattingly II, but in reality, Adam Schlesinger, the bassist of Fountains of Wayne, composed the song. The soundtrack album was released under Play-Tone Records (the name of the record label in the movie), peaking at #21 on the charts, and the artwork and liner notes are put together to make it look like the Wonders were a real group. What’s impressive about the titular song is that it had to sound like it came out of the 1960’s, be catchy enough for it to be believable as a hit, and not get irritating to listen to, since it’s played eleven times in the movie.
Armageddon – I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing by Aerosmith
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was written by Diane Warren but recorded by Aerosmith specifically for the 1998 movie Armageddon, which lead singer Steven Tyler’s daughter Liv Tyler starred in. The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the band their first and only #1 single in the United States. It was also nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for best original song. “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” helped introduce Aerosmith to a new generation of fans. Other songs recorded for the movie and featured on the soundtrack album are “What Kind of Love Are You On” (also by Aerosmith), “Remember Me” by Journey, and “Mister Big Time” performed by Jon Bon Jovi.
Titanic – My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion
Written by James Horner and Will Jennings and performed by Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On” is the main theme song to the 1997 film Titanic. The movie was a massive hit, as was the soundtrack, which shot to the top of the charts, selling over 30 million copies and becoming not only one of the best-selling albums of all time, but also the highest-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack ever. “My Heart Will Go On” was the main song with lyrics and played over the ending credits. It also won the 1997 Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. After the soundtrack’s success, a second volume was released, called Back to Titanic, which also moved up the music charts and spent ten consecutive weeks at #1. “My Heart Will Go On” in particular is what the movie is most associated with and has also become Celine Dion’s signature song.