On May 19, the record that mostly likely earned a top spot at the front page of your CD binder, Godzilla: The Album turns twenty.
Even though the 1998 monster flick was a critical dud, the platinum soundtrack turned out some huge hits, including Jamiroquai’s “Deeper Underground,” The Wallflowers’ cover of “Heroes,” and, of course, Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page’s crossover smash “Come With Me.”
That’s right: Jamiroquai, The Wallflowers, and Puff Daddy all on one album. And just in case that wasn’t 90’s enough for you, the soundtrack also featured Gen X staples like Green Day, Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters, and Ben Folds Five.
While it’s safe to say that Godzilla: The Album is painfully ‘90s, there are some other soundtracks from the decade that give this one a run for its money. These are the twenty other soundtracks that are not only stacked with ’90s-friendly artists, but, like, totally feel like the ultimate time capsule now.
Romeo + Juliet
Arguably the one of the most definitive soundtracks of the ’90s, if not one of the very best, Baz Luhrmann’s penchant for putting contemporary music in bygone era paid off in a big way. From The Cardigans’ timeless earworm “Lovefool” to Des’ree’s breathtaking “Kissing You,” the soundtrack (which also features Garbage, Everclear, Radiohead, and Butthole Surfers) is as quintessential 1996 as a baby-faced Leo and Claire staring at each other through a fish tank.
While most of the hit songs from this soundtrack have since been relegated to easy listening, or—shudder—classic rock stations, these were massive and everywhere when they came out in 1995. Lead by the Billboard Hot 100-topping “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal, the soundtrack had a ‘90s artist for every mood, including U2, Brandy, The Flaming Lips, Method Man, and The Offspring.
Fuzzy pens and tiny backpacks.
Clueless is still a pitch-perfect teen comedy two decades later, but it also happens to be about as ‘90s as anything on this list gets. The same goes for its 1995 soundtrack, which had an entire generation totally buggin’ over The Muffs, Jill Sobule, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Cracker, and, of course, Coolio and his Valley party-starter “Rollin’ With the Homies.”
Every day was Rex Manning Day when you had a soundtrack that had Gin Blossoms’ “Til I Hear It From You” on it. No record collection was even close to complete in 1995 without it, as the soundtrack had songs from The Cranberries, Better Than Ezra, Evan Dando, and Toad the Wet Sprocket on it, too.
Waiting to Exhale
Whitney Houston knew how to turn out a soundtrack in the ‘90s (see: The Bodyguard, The Preacher’s Wife) and in 1995 everyone was shoop-shoop-shooping along to the chart-topping and Grammy nominated Waiting to Exhale record. Fellow heavy-hitters like Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Faith Evans, and SWV all joined Houston on the iconic, Babyface-penned album.
Drive Me Crazy
1999 was when TRL pop was at its absolute pinnacle, and Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys were the reigning queen and king(s). So, a soundtrack that featured both Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and BSB’s “I Want It That Way” was nothing short of oxygen for a teen living that year. If anything was going to send the ‘90s out in the most ‘90s fashion possible, it was a movie starring Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier with a soundtrack that also featured Phantom Planet, The Donnas, Barenaked Ladies, Jars of Clay, and Less Than Jake.
You can argue whether Singles or Reality Bites is the better ‘90s movie until you’re blue in the face (it’s the latter, for the record), but there’s no contest when it comes to the soundtrack. Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Chris Cornell, and The Smashing Pumpkins were at the forefront of the grunge scene in 1992. Sorry to say it, Hey, That’s My Bike.
What Singles was for Seattle rock, Poetic Justice was for hip-hop and R&B in 1993. After all, this is a soundtrack that starts with TLC’s “Get It Up” and ends with the movie’s leading lady Janet Jackson’s “Again” and has everyone from 2Pac to Usher to Babyface to Naughty by Nature in between.
If you were a badass babe in the 1995, there’s more than a good chance you owned the soundtrack to Tank Girl, and with good reason. It was a full-on roster of cool-ass artists from the era, including Hole, Bush, Ice-T, and Veruca Salt. But the album’s real show-stopper was, natch, Björk and her track “Army of Me.”
10 Things I Hate About You
The high school comedy featured no less than four—count ‘em, four— Letters to Cleo songs in the movie alone. (Only their two cover songs, including “I Want You to Want Me,” made the cut for the 1999 soundtrack, however.) They were joined alongside other hyper-’90s acts such as Semisonic, Save Ferris, and Sister Hazel.
The Cable Guy
Jim Carrey was so famous in the ‘90s they put him in soundtracks. Case in point: he showed off his dark comedic chops and vocal range on the soundtrack to 1996’s The Cable Guy. Still, it was the real musicians that made this a stand-out, including Cypress Hill, Porno for Pyros, and Filter. But that soundtrack really belonged to its lone single, the haunting “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand” by the Primitive Radio Gods.
“Ghetto Supastar (That is What You Are)” by Pras, Mya, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard was ubiquitous on the radio in 1998, as was the music video on MTV. While the song was available on Pras’ debut album of the same name, the soundtrack was stacked with other essential era artists like Eve, RZA, Dr. Dre, LL Cool J, and the Black Eyed Peas.
If you weren’t spending 1999 mourning Ryan Phillippe’s character’s untimely death set to the sounds of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” what the hell were you doing? If the answer was anything other than listening the rest of soundtrack, which had Counting Crows, Aimee Mann, Marcy Playground and Blur, you are incorrect.
The ‘90s had its fair share of teen horror flicks and their accompanying soundtracks. You could take your pick from I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, and Disturbing Behavior, but did those soundtracks have as diverse (and, okay, totally bizarre) a track listing as Scream 2 did in 1997? Hell no: this one had everyone from Collective Soul to D’Angelo, from Dave Matthews Band to Kottonmouth Kings.
Putting movie dialogue in a soundtrack was a very, very ‘90s thing to do (ahem, Pulp Fiction) and no one took greater advantage of that than Kevin Smith in 1995. When the soundtrack wasn’t playing songs from Weezer, Belly, Sublime, Sponge, or Bush, it was mostly just snippets from the comedy.
We have the Go soundtrack to thank/blame(?) for the ubiquitous one-hit wonder that was Len’s “Steal My Sunshine.” Not to be outdone, however, the 1999 soundtrack was a veritable mixtape of must-haves from No Doubt, Fatboy Slim, Lenny Kravitz, Eagle-Eye Cherry, and Natalie Imbruglia.
If heavy metal, electronica and other music that made your mom very upset was your thing in the late ‘90s, then, boy, was the soundtrack to the game-changing 1999 smash The Matrix for you. While Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” remix is the song most likely associated with the flick thanks to the memorable lobby shootout scene, the rest of the soundtrack has ‘90s scene faves like Marilyn Manson, The Prodigy, Deftones, Monster Magnet, and Rammstein.
Can’t Hardly Wait
That’s right, there was a Jennifer Love Hewitt rom-com that didn’t have a JLH song on the soundtrack. In 1998. Shame. Shame. Shame. Alas, there was still some suuuuuuuuper ‘90s vibes perfect for any graduation house party gone awry thanks to blink-182, Missy Elliott, Smash Mouth, Busta Rhymes, and Third Eye Blind, among others.
Men In Black
Before there was “Wild, Wild West,” Will Smith gave another one of his ‘90s movies the theme song treatment with 1997’s “Men in Black.” But it’s not just Smith’s titular tune that made this a must-have CD (or tape, if you still had that, no judgment) considering it also featured Destiny’s Child, Ginuwine, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, and Alicia Keys.
If you needed further proof that soundtracks were a big deal in the ‘90s and folks bought the albums to damn near every movie they saw, look no further than the Twister soundtrack. (Can you even fathom buying a record from a disaster movie starring Helen Hunt now?) It’s a snapshot of 1996 listening thanks to the Goo Goo Dolls, Rusted Root, Tori Amos, Soul Asylum, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. No cows were injured in the making of this soundtrack.