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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 05/18/2007

Friday List: The Best Soundtracks

By Liz Kelly

(Courtesy Fontana London)

The gunna-gunk gunna-gunk, gunna-gunk gunna-gunk first few riffs from Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" instantly conjures up visions of the interior of Mike Damone's car in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and I'm similarly transported by songs from the other varied soundtracks taking up space on my iPod. Songs from movies like "Jesus' Son" and "Rize" share space with pre-adolescent favorites like "Camelot," "Xanadu" and my first know-it-all-by-heart soundtrack, "Grease."

Hip or cheesy, loaded with subtext or unapologetically meaningless, movie soundtracks are often entry points into a genre and I have many directors I'd like to thank for sparking lifelong love affairs with artists like Cat Stevens and Mudhoney.

Today's mission is to list our favorite movie soundtracks. You'll receive bonus points for including your reasons. As usual, I'll start:

"Donnie Darko" -- Sadly, the official soundtrack only included the original score, so I had to craft my own iTunes playlist of the movie's killer songs, including Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and Gary Jules's cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World."

"Jesus' Son" -- Not only is this junkie tale one of my very favorite movies, the soundtrack is impeccable -- from soul classics to the Flying Burrito Brothers to Wilco's kick-butt feel-sorry-for-yourself song "She's a Jar."

"Rushmore" -- Wes Anderson's genius for choosing movie music is best exemplified by his blending of Creation's "Making Time," Chad & Jeremy's "A Summer Song" and The Who's "A Quick One." Also, wax nostalgic about Jason Schwartzman before he realized he was so cool.

"Harold & Maude" -- If Wes Anderson is genius, that would make director Hal Ashby the godfather of subversive, understated soundtracks. A young Bud Cort woos elderly Ruth Gordon, fakes suicide and modifies his Jaguar XKE Series 2 roadster into a hearse all to the mellifluous sounds of Cat Stevens. Unfortunately, no official soundtrack exists, so you'll have to DIY.

"Eddie and the Cruisers" -- Laugh if you will, but those first few piano notes from "The Dark Side" get me in the mood for a little Michael Pare lip-synching of John Cafferty's Beaver Brown Band.

"This is Spinal Tap" -- Seriously. Despite the "big bottomed" subject matter and over-the-top theatricality, these songs are actually good... especially for closet fans of '80s hair bands (though I'm more partial to the early Taps, like "Gimme Some Money" and "Listen To Me (The Flower People)."

Your turn: Share your favorites in the comments section... (and if you need a little inspiration, here's Entertainment Weekly's listing of the top 100 soundtracks).

By Liz Kelly  | May 18, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists  
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