Rachel Abreu brings you the definitive ranking of indie movie soundtracks – for your viewing (and listening) pleasure.


Let’s face it, a soundtrack can make or break a film. On the other hand, sometimes soundtracks are so special that they generate a following that even surpasses the film’s. Here are some examples of standout indie movie soundtracks that offer up countless golden tracks.

1. Trainspotting

You probably saw this coming. Many a list of movie soundtrack rankings has Trainspotting fixed at the top spot and it is no wonder why. The film – which erupted into a subculture of its own – carries with it a soundtrack that matches its vibe perfectly. With a bunch of Iggy Pop thrown in between the likes of David Bowie and Joy Division, this soundtrack is a true celebration of the 90s and its cultural influences.

 

2. Pulp Fiction

This eclectic mix of rock & roll, surf rock, pop and soul makes for a truly unforgettable soundtrack. We owe this one for Urge Overkill’s rise to fame and the resurgence of Kool & The Gang’s popularity in the 90s. You are welcome.

 

3. Somewhere (Unofficial)

While the film does not actually have an official soundtrack, Somewhere is a shining example of the indie soundtrack genius herself: Sofia Coppola. I mean what else would you expect from the wife of Phoenix front man Thomas Mars? Standout tracks include: ‘Look’ by Sébastien Tellier, “So Lonely” by The Police and of course, “Love Like a Sunset Part II” by Phoenix.

 

4. Amélie 

For those who are into more score-heavy soundtracks, then Amélie’s soundtrack is the one for you. Yann Tiersen has come up with masterpieces that he plays on both piano and accordion – with the likes of “Comptine d’un autre été” and “La Valse d’Amélie” – that have found their way into many Parisian music boxes as well as iPods.

 

5. Where The Wild Things Are

This movie is a total gem. From the trailer alone – which features Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” – I anticipated an amazing soundtrack. The soundtrack is the product of Karen O’s imagination (yes the one from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and features the voices of the young cast members from the movie. If the track “All Is Love” does not make you smile then I do not know what will.

 

6. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Based on the novel by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, the film’s plot centers on two teenagers’ quest to track down their favourite band Where’s Fluffy. I know it sounds like a weird premise for a film, but with the word “Playlist” in the title, it does have a killer soundtrack. When I first saw the film I found myself scrambling to Google lyrics in order to find track names, and once the full soundtrack was in my hands it did not disappoint. Start with “Last Words” by The Real Tuesday Weld.

 

7. Submarine

This is a soundtrack that consists entirely of Alex Turner originals. No further explanation required.

 

8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

When this film first released, hearts around the world broke at the sound of Beck’s “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime”. This is another score-heavy soundtrack that takes on a more somber mood than Amélie. Listen to this soundtrack for a truly cathartic experience.

 

9. Empire Records

One word: badass. This is the PERFECT old-timey, feel-good soundtrack full of independent bands and up-and-coming artists. Listen closely on some of the tracks for background vocals by none other than leads Liv Tyler and Renée Zellweger.

 

10. Juno

I am not usually a fan of soundtracks that are heavy on one artist, but as a die-hard The Moldy Peaches fan I carry a bit of a bias. Lead singer Kimya Dawson has an identity all her own on most of the tracks, so much so that once you hear her voice you immediately associate it with the film. There is also a bit of Belle & Sebastian (Piazza, New York Catcher has some achingly beautiful lyrics), Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground thrown in there, earning this soundtrack extra brownie points.

 

Rachel Abreu