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The 25 Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

From ‘Easy Rider’ to ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

Pulp Fiction

Courtesy MCA

From Elvis gyrating in prison stripes in Jailhouse Rock to Prince putting Apollonia on the back of his bike in Purple Rain, rock & roll and movies have been inseparable for going on 60 years. In making this list, we included soundtrack albums built around original songs (hey, Superfly) as well as expertly curated compilations (we see you, Quentin), but we generally favored fresh tunes over killer mixtapes. And while great movies and great soundtracks can go hand in hand (A Hard Day’s Night), sometimes a so-so film is full of historic tunes, as in our number one pick.

A Hard Day's Night
4

‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964)

Right from that thunderous opening chord, A Hard Day's Night jumps into a typical day in the madcap life of the Beatles – getting chased down the street by screaming girls, strumming their guitars backstage, sharing the cocky grin of four Liverpool lads who realize how good they are and can't wait to show the world. John Lennon and Paul McCartney hit new highs with tunes like "If I Fell" – the soundtrack was the first Beatles album on which they wrote all the songs themselves.

The Harder They Come
3

‘The Harder They Come’ (1972)

The reggae equivalent to Saturday Night Fever defined the music globally at a time when, to audiences beyond the Caribbean and émigré towns, Bob Marley and the Wailers might as well have been an Italian doo-wop group. Jimmy Cliff was star of both film and LP, which included his newly-cut title track as well as earlier gems like "Many Rivers to Cross." With the Maytals' "Pressure Drop," the Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon" and Desmond Dekker's "007 (Shanty Town)," it remains the single greatest reggae mixtape ever made.