Movies

The 20 Best Original 'Twilight' Songs, Ranked: Critic's Picks

Brandon Flowers of The Killers, Florence Welch & Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
Getty Images; Design by Jessica Xie

Brandon Flowers of The Killers, Florence Welch & Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend

Twihards and Twihaters alike can agree on one thing: the blockbuster Twilight film series produced one epic soundtrack after another.

After the success of the first film’s soundtrack, which spent 20 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, rising and big-name artists alike jumped to contribute an original song to the franchise. In turn, those artists reaped the benefits of a built-in young adult audience, a worldwide stage upon which to premiere their music, and in many cases, the chance to land on a Billboard chart.

Featuring new songs from such hitmaking artists as Paramore, Florence + the Machine, Vampire Weekend and Christina Perri, to name just a few, the Twilight soundtracks more than hold up. In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the first OST (Nov. 4, 2008), here are the 20 best original songs from across all five albums, painstakingly ranked for your enjoyment.

20. James Vincent McMorrow, "Ghosts" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2)

McMorrow delivers a fantastic slice of gloom here. The Irish singer/songwriter’s moment comes during the scene when Bella (Kristen Stewart) drives home from Seattle after meeting with lawyer and document forger J. Jenks, and she realizes that she and Edward (Robert Pattinson) will most likely die during the impending Volturi battle. (Spoiler alert: everyone lives.)

19. Iko, "Heart of Stone" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2)

This piano ballad, from English duo Iko (Kiernan Scragg and Neil Reid), is one of the sweeter-sounding songs on this final franchise soundtrack. Scragg's silken voice is raw and unwavering on the heart-wrenching chorus: "I can breathe, water, water/ When you're here with me/ You're not here with me."

18. St. Vincent, "The Antidote" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2)

Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and Bella arm wrestle to Annie Clark's kickass shredding during one of the funniest scenes in the final Twilight film. “Show me where it really hurts/ I’ll show you where it really hurts,” Clark coos appropriately, and the track is both gritty and uplifting in that way only St. Vincent can pull off. It’s also an early connection between Clark and Stewart, who eventually dated.

17. OK Go, "Shooting the Moon" (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

This song plays during one of many scenes of Bella and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) spending time in his garage while that jerk Edward is away doing god-knows-what, serving as the soundtrack for a sweet bonding moment. OK Go actually has quite the history with Twilight author Stephanie Meyer; she once asked the band to play one of her book release parties, and even thanked them in the back of one of the novels for inspiring her as she wrote.

16. Passion Pit, "Where I Come From" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2)

Passion Pit’s sparkling "Where I Come From" soundtracks the end of Bella’s transformation; namely, when she sees Edward through her vampire eyes for the first time.

15. Carter Burwell, "Bella's Lullaby" (Twilight)

Edward Cullen plays piano, and so, in fact, does Robert Pattinson. R-Patz apparently learned Burwell's love song "in about ten seconds," as he told MTV News back in the day, and it made for a very touching scene in the first film. Hardcore fans will remember that Yiruma's “River Flows in You" was adopted by a corner of the Internet as the unofficial "Bella's Lullaby" ahead of the film, but Burwell’s version is beautiful in its own right.

14. The Features, "From Now On" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1)

This upbeat song plays over a montage of Bella and Edward's honeymoon as they go swimming, play chess, and eventually have sex for the first time. “Dreamed last night about a time and place/ Where from our troubles we had escaped,” frontman Matt Pelham croons. Basically, it’s the calm before the storm, as anyone familiar with the story knows.

13. The Belle Brigade, "I Didn't Mean It" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1)

Brother-sister duo Barbara and Ethan Gruska wrote "I Didn't Mean It" while housesitting for a friend who happened to have a piano, and they wrote the ridiculously catchy song in just a few hours. "The song is about jealousy, so it works well with the whole Twilight love triangle,” Barbara has explained. You can say that again.

12. Fanfarlo, "Atlas" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

London-based indie-folk band Fanfarlo brought one of the most upbeat tracks on the album with "Atlas," and it’s a much-appreciated ray of sunshine. "Atlas" (The Time and Space Machine Remix) appears on the Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack, and is also worth checking out.

11. Editors "No Sound But the Wind" (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

"No Sound But the Wind" is depressing as hell, and therefore right at home in this movie. (It might be appropriate for a funeral, too.) It’s mostly just the piano part that’s used for the scene where Edward drives Bella home, after the Cullens vote on her impending vampirism, but still, it’s somber. Lead singer-songwriter Tom Smith explained to Billboard earlier this year that the song was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, and is actually about a father singing to his son about the “protection of innocence.”

10. Christina Perri, "A Thousand Years" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1)

Perri’s heart-wrenching ballad was chosen as the second single from the Breaking Dawn soundtrack, and it became a bona fide hit, peaking at No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Perri, a confirmed Twihard, wrote it specifically with Bella and Edward’s relationship in mind. She also re-recorded it for the Part 2 soundtrack along with Steve Kazee, turning it into a duet. "I got to add a verse and then arrange it with a full orchestra... being able to redo it, I was incredibly blown away,” Perri told Billboard at the time. “When I went to the premiere, it felt more like everyone's song -- it's for the whole franchise. I'm really honored."

9. Florence and the Machine, "Heavy in Your Arms" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

While "Heavy in Your Arms" doesn’t make an appearance until the Eclipse ending credits, it’s one of Florence + the Machine's most dark and seductive tracks. Frontwoman Florence Welch has said that the song is about "the weight of love," and how it can burden a couple: "I felt this was a strong theme in the Twilight series -- is someone being rescued or are they being condemned, and is the love you carry bringing you down?” Oh, that one hurts, Flo. The black and white music video, which involves Welch's limp body being dragged around in various settings, is appropriately eerie.

8. Vampire Weekend, "Jonathan Low" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

While recruiting a band that literally has the word “vampire” in its title might seem a little obvious, this was a match made in heaven. Drummer Chris Tomson recently took to Instagram to look back on the song, explaining that the song was recorded while Vampire Weekend was working to get their album Contra out. “This song features the debut of a 12-string guitar on a Vampire Weekend recording,” Tomson wrote, “as well as one of my all-time favorite personal mishearings of Ezra’s lyrics: I thought ‘Chilled him to the bone’ was ‘Chillin’ to the bone.’ I’m not sure who corrected me or when they did so, but part of [me] wishes they hadn’t!” The band has never performed the song live, but there's still hope. It’s a bop.

7. Metric, "Eclipse (All Yours)" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

"Eclipse (All Yours)" was important enough to warrant three separate versions. (Four, actually, if you count the Kevin Teasley bonus track on the Breaking Dawn - Part 1 soundtrack.) An orchestral arrangement plays during the first and final meadow scenes in Eclipse, a guitar-heavy rendition serves as the first song of the ending credits (and got an official video), and an acoustic piano version was released by the band as a single. They are all great.

6. The Killers, "A White Demon Love Song"  (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

Brandon Flowers soothes and serenades on this ballad, and it's easy to imagine Edward as the "white demon," especially considering the lines, "White demon shadow on the road/Back up your mind, there is a call/He isn't coming after all." As a refresher, Edward leaving Bella is more or less the crux of New Moon.

5. Death Cab for Cutie, "Meet Me on the Equinox" (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

New Moon is right around when the Twilight soundtrack folks started getting enthusiastic about celestial imagery, and "Meet Me on the Equinox," the second song in the film’s end credits, more of less kicked off the trend. Frontman Ben Gibbard's melancholy, droning voice goes nicely with lyrics about two individuals in a relationship who meet each other halfway -- though he’s sure to throw in a cautionary reminder that “everything ends.” (Sorry, Team Jacob.)

4. Grizzly Bear feat. Victoria Legrand, "Slow Life" (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

"Slow Life" plays during the underwater scene in New Moon, right after Bella jumps off a cliff in order to try and evoke her preserved memory of Edward. Basically, it’s heavy stuff. The haunting track benefits from Grizzly Bear's classic slow verse/pounding chorus combo, and subtle backing vocals from Victoria Legrand of Beach House.

3. The Black Keys, "Chop and Change" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

One of the best rock songs in the series, “Chop and Change” sets the stage nicely as evil vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) begins her plan to form an army and attack the Cullens and Bella. The track plays as Riley (Xavier Samuel) heads out of a bar and into the rainy night, where he’s unfortunately bitten and turned by the redheaded villain. The Black Keys re-recorded the song for an iTunes Session in 2010, and it was a regular part of their setlist through 2011.

2. Paramore, "Decode" (Twilight)

"Decode” isn't on Spotify (nor is the rest of the first Twilight soundtrack), but that's okay, because it just gives you an excuse to watch the music video. Hayley Williams & Co. are more or less transplanted into Forks, Wash., as shots of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) from the film are spliced with those of the band as they perform in an unknown forest. After all, what emo kid worth their salt doesn't like taking a somber walk in the woods?

Though “Decode” isn’t actually in the movie until the end credits, this is arguably the song that defines the first Twilight film, serving as the soundtrack’s lead single, winning everyone over with that now-iconic guitar riff, and peaking at No. 33 on the Hot 100 in early 2009.

1. Muse, "I Belong to You" [New Moon Remix] (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” -- which plays in the baseball scene of the first film -- was a major music moment, and it’s no surprise that the band was asked to contribute to the second and third soundtracks for the franchise. Muse took their song “I Belong to You” (from the band's fifth studio album The Resistance), added some more guitars and all-around oomph, and thus the New Moon remix was born.