Awesome Mix Vol. 1, the soundtrack album for comic sci-fi action movie Guardians of the Galaxy, tripped a sonic time warp with the best record K-tel never made. Director James Gunn’s adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise set a danceable batch of sunny pop tracks from the ’60s and ’70s against a frightening alien world. The result was a grass-roots No. 1 hit that sold more than 700,000 copies. The 12 songs that Gunn, 44, chose himself became the feel-good summer mix that resonated with audiences of all ages, especially teenagers. Befitting the era its songs hail from, the soundtrack was a solid performer in vinyl sales, and on Black Friday Hollywood Records also released the compilation on cassette — the label’s first since 2002.
James Gunn: The sweet spot for me was songs from the 1970s that weren’t necessarily the best-known. Picking music from the past for a movie about the future worked because the world of the movie is weird and could be off-putting, and the songs immediately bring the audience into something familiar. When “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone comes on, it tells people that they may not be seeing the movie they thought they were seeing. Our greatest victory was that Dave Jordan, the music supervisor, got me every song I wanted. My personal favorite on the soundtrack is “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. In fact, it may be my favorite pop song of all time. Every beat of it is amazing. The fact that Marvel let me put such personal songs in the movie was big, but of course, I had no idea that the soundtrack would be a hit. It’s a real testament to the fact that the movie spoke to the kids, and the songs helped them relive the movie.
2014’s No. 1’s: J Balvin & Farruko | Idina Menzel & the ‘Frozen’ Soundtrack | Tove Lo, Kiesza, & Nick Jonas | Taylor Swift | Barbra Streisand | Weird Al Yankovic | Ed Sheeran & Charli XCX | Nicki Minaj | ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soundtrack | Enrique Iglesias | Kacey Musgraves | Santana | Sam Smith | Iggy Azalea | Jason Derulo | Meghan Trainor, Nico & Vinz
This article first appeared in the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard.