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Despite the convenience of digital technology, an increasing number of music fans are turning to – or returning to, as the case may be – vinyl as their preferred method of listening to and purchasing albums. As Variety recently reported, vinyl sales soared nearly 30% in the U.S. last year, outpacing CDs for the first time since the mid-80s, and the movie soundtrack genre has benefitted greatly from that unlikely resurgence.
Adding fuel to this comeback story are a number of specialty labels, like Waxwork Records and Mondo’s Death Waltz Recording Company, that cater specifically to film buffs and soundtrack collectors. And that’s understandable when you consider the many practical and aesthetic similarities between vinyl and traditional 35mm film. After all, both are analog formats, beloved for the warmth and richness of their sound and image, and both inspire nostalgic feelings based on our formative listening and viewing histories. So if you’re looking to build or expand your own soundtrack collection, here are 12 titles that deserve a spin on your turntable.
‘Promising Young Woman’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Pop music plays a crucial role in energizing director Emerald Fennell’s Oscar-winning revenge thriller, and this impressive double-LP soundtrack gathers many of the film’s top tracks together in one glorious package. Featuring a mix of covers and original songs by artists like Charli XCX, Donna Missal, and MUNA, along with playfully selected tunes from Paris Hilton and Juice Newton, the “Promising Young Woman” soundtrack is a wickedly provocative assemblage of music that’s perfect for when you need a little sonic catharsis. Naturally, the album also includes composer Anthony Willis’s eerie cover version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which serves as the film’s unsettling anthem.
‘William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet’ (Music from the Motion Picture)
Thanks to its vibrant production design, kaleidoscopic camera work, and its impossibly gorgeous cast, Baz Luhrman’s fever-dream adaptation of Shakespeare’s immortal romance still has the power to dazzle fans a quarter of a century after its initial release. Yet for many people, it’s the film’s music that continues to resonate in a deeply personal way. Featuring an eclectic array of tracks by everyone from Garbage to The Cardigans to The Butthole Surfers, the original triple-platinum soundtrack was recently reissued as a limited edition LP pressed on trippy blue-orange vinyl. With only 2000 copies manufactured worldwide, it’s already a popular collector’s item. But with a little online digging, you can still find a copy if you’re willing to splurge a bit.
‘One Night In Miami…’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Featuring the timeless songs of Sam Cooke as performed by Oscar-nominated actor Leslie Odom Jr., the soundtrack to director Regina King’s acclaimed period drama is an evocative collection of music that beautifully captures the singular sound of the mid-60s era. When heard on vinyl, Odom’s powerful vocals take on a whole new depth, making this an album you’ll want to return to again and again. The soundtrack also includes classic songs performed by legendary artists like Billy Preston and L.C. Cooke, as well as several atmospheric tracks by the film’s composer, Terence Blanchard. The movie’s Oscar-nominated original song “Speak Now,” co-written and performed by Odom, is included as the final track.
‘The Social Network’ (Definitive Edition)
One of the most influential film scores of the past two decades, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s Oscar-winning soundtrack to “The Social Network” gets the deluxe treatment with this fantastic 2-LP edition pressed on sturdy 180-gram vinyl. 19 groundbreaking tracks are spread out over the two albums, and each one is more haunting that the last. If you’re new to collecting soundtracks on vinyl, this is an ideal starting point, especially when you consider that the original vinyl pressing of “The Social Network” that was released back in 2010 currently fetches hundreds of dollars at many stores online. This definitive edition comes packaged in a lovely three-panel gatefold and includes a recent essay by film critic Elvis Mitchell that puts the score in historical context.
‘Motherless Brooklyn’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Despite its impressive cast and sterling pedigree, Edward Norton’s handsomely crafted adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s award-winning detective novel didn’t quite land with audiences when it arrived in theaters in 2019. And that’s unfortunate, because the movie has much to offer, including a profoundly moving score by Oscar-nominated composer Daniel Pemberton, whose work on the film manages to combine the introspective jazz of Miles Davis with the lush soundscapes of Radiohead. On vinyl, the soundtrack’s standout track is “Daily Battles,” an elegiac collaboration between Thom Yorke and his Atoms for Peace bandmate Flea. The song’s somber lyrics, anguished vocals, and reflective piano chords sound positively heartbreaking when heard in conjunction with the subtle pop and hiss of a turntable.
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Easily the best film of the entire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise (yes, we said it) 1991’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” has a lot of things going for it, including a fabulously peppy score by British composer John Du Prez. Although never officially available in any format, Du Prez’s kitschy turtle music is finally on vinyl thanks to Waxwork Records, who’ve pulled out all the stops for this surprisingly lavish release. Sourced from the original master recordings, and pressed in 180-gram “ooze” colored green vinyl, the album also includes Vanilla Ice’s much-derided – though admittedly catchy – “Ninja Rap.” In short, there’s only word capable for describing this guilty pleasure: cowabunga!
‘Birds Of Prey: The Album’ (Picture Disc Vinyl)
As convenient as digital downloads might be, there’s no denying that vinyl has them beat six ways from Sunday when it comes to the sheer eye-catching beauty of a physical album. And that’s especially true when the record in question is a colorful picture disk like this one. The first thing you’ll notice when you open “Birds of Prey: The Album” is Harley Quinn’s day-glow face blowing you a kiss from the vinyl itself, and her image becomes even more hallucinatory when you place it on a turntable and set it spinning. As for the music itself, the album features 15 exclusive tracks, including the propulsive hit single “Boss Bitch” by Doja Cat. Other artists on the record including Megan Thee Stallion, Normani, Halsey, Summer Walker, and Saweetie.
‘The Tarantino Experience: The Ultimate Tribute to Quentin Tarantino’ (Music From and Inspired by His Films)
Few directors today use existing pop music more effectively on a consistent basis than Quentin Tarantino. If you have any doubt, just look at the way he brilliantly juxtaposes savage ultra-violence with a quirkily jubilant tune like Stealer Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” in his masterful debut “Reservoir Dogs” and you’ll see what we mean. In fact, he does it so often that this limited edition 2-LP set, pressed in bright red and yellow vinyl, barely scratches the surface. Featuring 24 foot-stomping tracks from films like “Pulp Fiction,” Jackie Brown,” “Kill Bill,” “Death Proof,” and “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” along with several songs inspired by his work, it’s a sweet package that’s worth adding to any Tarantino fan’s record collection.
‘Prince of Darkness’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
It’s midnight and you’ve just placed your turntable’s needle down on the first track of director John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness” score. As the electronic music begins to ominously throb like the heartbeat of a slowly reviving corpse, you find yourself checking the dimly lit corners of your living room, hoping not to see the demonic spirit that this terrifying soundtrack seems more than capable of summoning. Pressed in eerie green vinyl, and housed in a brilliantly designed gatefold that looks like it belongs on an altar in a Satanic mass, this amazing reissue by Mondo’s Death Waltz Records is a must-have for any self-respecting horror fan. Just be sure to have a vial of holy water handy when you flip the album to side B. You’ve been warned!
‘The Crown: Season Four’ (Original Soundtrack)
Think back to your favorite episodes of Netflix’s “The Crown” and chances are that composer Martin Phipps’ music had a lot to do with your enjoyment of the show. The frequent Emmy-nominee’s score for the series’ memorable fourth season comes alive on this recent release from specialty label Music on Vinyl. Pressed on 180-gram royal purple marbled vinyl, this extremely limited edition album (only 750 individually numbered copies were produced) includes an illuminating 4-page liner notes booklet that explains Phipps’ minimalist techniques.
‘TENET’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [Deluxe Edition]
Oscar-winning Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson wrote the boldly experimental electronic score to Christopher Nolan’s twisty time travel thriller, and his music is guaranteed to give your home sound system a workout when you listen to it on vinyl. Along with Göransson’s phantasmagoric soundscapes, the album also features the original song “The Plan,” written and performed by multi-platinum recording artist Travis Scott. This 3-LP deluxe edition also includes previously unreleased bonus tracks, and informative liner notes written by both Nolan and Göransson.
‘News of the World’ (Original Soundtrack)
Nominated for a staggering nine Academy Awards in his career so far, composer James Newton Howard has lent his signature sound to many different film genres over the years, but other than the majestic music he wrote for Lawrence Kasdan’s “Wyatt Earp” in 1994, and his work on the 2004 epic “Hidalgo,” he’s managed to avoid scoring a true classic Hollywood Western… until this past year. By turns wistful and exciting, elegant and folksy, Howard’s Oscar-nominated score to “News of the World” adds an element of authenticity to Paul Greengrass’s thoughtful Western drama. Written mostly for a small string orchestra, the score sounds especially warm and natural when heard on vinyl. Drop the needle anywhere on this limited edition 2-LP set from Mondo and you’ll find yourself thinking of rolling plains and vast open spaces.