1. Romeo + Juliet
The Romeo + Juliet soundtrack is a slice of ’90s heaven. It was largely conceptual with every song revolving around forbidden love, obsession and violence. My personal favorites are the sensual swirl of “#1 Crush” by Garbage, the ethereal dreaminess of “Angel” by Gavin Friday and the quiet aggression of bands like Butthole Surfers and Radiohead.
2. Empire Records
A soundtrack to a movie about music set in the ’90s better be awesome. Empire Records was a nice mix of #dark girl music (Mazzy Star, Drill) and unabashed alternative rock (Cracker anyone?). Listening to the album makes me kinda want to work at a cool record store with my cool friends, have sex with a washed up pop star, shave my head in the employee’s bathroom, take speed to do homework, shoplift, and throw myself a fake funeral. Or something.
3. Wicker Park
Every so often, a crappy movie that no one cares about will release an amazing soundtrack and everyone will be super confused about it. Such was the case for the dud, Wicker Park, which I’m pretty sure no one saw. The soundtrack, however, is indie pop perfection. Tracks by Broken Social Scene, Mum, and Mates Of State help capture the beautiful time that was indie rock in the early ’00s and also make you forget that it’s for a movie starring Josh Hartnett about his disappearing girlfriend.
4. The Wackness
The Wackness soundtrack is essentially a crash course in early ’90s hip hop. R. Kelly, Biz Markie, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, Nas: The gang’s all here! There’s even the amazing/borderline LOL song, “Summertime” by Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, which I try to listen to on a daily basis. The great thing about this soundtrack is that it actually feels like a mixed tape your crush would give you in high school. My only complaint is that they didn’t include “I Wish by Skee-Lo.
5. Stealing Beauty
Did you guys ever see this movie? It starred Liv Tyler in her prime as an 18-year-old virgin (gasp!) who travels to Italy and attempts to get laid. It’s beautifully shot but is also kind of tedious so I suggest just watching it on mute with the soundtrack playing. There are so many good jams on this one. It’s a mix of moody girl music (Liz Phair, Cocteau Twins), jazz (Nina Simone, Billie Holiday), and soul (John Lee Hooker, Stevie Wonder). I remember listening to it when I was 11 and feeling very sophisticated for listening to something that my mother also enjoyed.