5 Movie Soundtracks That Stand Alone as Great Albums

Liz R.
Written By Liz R.

Liz R. is a writer and educator in Indiana with an MFA in Creative Writing. She has been writing and teaching about movies, TV, and books for years. You can find her on TikTok

A movie soundtrack has the potential to bring us back to the movie we loved–or transcend the movie and provide us with a whole new musical experience. For a soundtrack to stand alone, it has to work as an album, not just a collection of songs from a movie.

Here are 5 great soundtracks that are worth streaming or downloading, regardless of whether or not you even like the movie!

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
    The Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis” turns 10 this year. The movie takes us back to the folk music scene of 1960s Greenwich Village. The soundtrack features a mix of traditional folk tunes and original compositions performed by Oscar Isaac, Marcus Mumford, Justin Timberlake, and more. “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” is a moody tune, “Please Mr. Kennedy” is goofy and catchy, the cover of “500 Miles” is quite lovely, and “The Death of Queen Jane” is haunting. But perhaps the best song on the soundtrack is “Fare Thee Well,” the song that Oscar Isaac performs throughout the movie as Llewyn tries to figure out his life.

    Bonus: There is also a live concert of music inspired by the film that I just love. You can watch the whole concert at the end of this post!
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
    “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” is an awesome trip on a nostalgic journey with ’70s and ’80s pop and rock hits like “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede and “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone. It is simply impossible to listen to this soundtrack without signing–and maybe even dancing–along.
  3. Pulp Fiction (1994)
    Quentin Tarantino is known for his ability to pair the perfect song with a scene. Pulp Fiction is a great example of this, but you don’t have to enjoy the movie (or even Tarantino) to appreciate this soundtrack. It’s eclectic, spanning numerous genres, including surf rock, soul, and rockabilly. Tracks like “Misirlou” by Dick Dale and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill perfectly complement the film’s stylish and gritty atmosphere.
  4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
    The Coen Brothers are back on the list again. This Americana-themed soundtrack provides an overview of American roots music, including gospel, bluegrass, and folk. The Grammy-winning soundtrack features gems like “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Down to the River to Pray,” transporting listeners to the setting of the movie.
  5. The Great Gatsby (2013)
    This is a moody, contemporary take on the Roaring Twenties. Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel brings the decadence of the 1920s to life. The soundtrack blends modern artists like Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, and Jay-Z with jazz-inspired reinterpretations. Tracks like “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey and “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie create a captivating fusion of old and new.

Enjoy the music of Inside Llewyn Davis in this live concert video: