Cult Soundtrack

This is music in a film which becomes one of its major selling points or unique identifiers. Generally regarded as Awesome Music, this music really helps a number of cult films keep a profile through the decades and is often the thing that people mean when they defend it with talk about its "atmosphere".

Particular causes for such a soundtrack may be the use of a single popular band or musician for the soundtrack in contrast for using a score composer or using many songs from different sources.

It is the existence of several Cult Soundtracks from the late 70's and 80's that lead to the more modern practise of focusing on getting a soundtrack and movie tie in for mutual publicity that leads to today's Breakaway Pop Hit phenomenon.

Compare Just Here for Godzilla. A clue to spotting one of these is when the soundtrack announcement for the sequel leads to And the Fandom Rejoiced.


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  • Cowboy Bebop fans have two sections of their brains. One section is for enjoying the show. The other section is for the music which is a sound unlike most other anime and musical director/composer Yoko Kanno given as a reason to watch the show equal to everything else. It is observed through MRI scans that the bigger the fan, the more engorged the latter section of the brain.
    • To a degree, this applies to almost everything Yoko Kanno has a hand in.
  • To a lesser extent, FLCL's soundtrack by The Pillows.
  • The 13-episode TV version of Hellsing is considered by many to be a failed adaptation, but even the biggest haters tend to VASTLY prefer its music over the music in Hellsing Ultimate.
  • Bruce Faulconer's soundtrack for the English dub of Dragon Ball Z has a pretty noticeable fandom.

    Films — Animated 
  • Transformers: The Movie includes the synthesised score by Vince DiCola and notable songs such as "Dare To Be Stupid" by Weird Al Yankovic and "The Touch" by Stan Bush have received a certain cult status amongst popular culture and the soundtrack has been re-released and remastered several times.
  • Message boards would have you believe that How to Train Your Dragon's soundtrack is its key accolade. John Powell's score has certainly developed a rabid fanbase.
  • Heavy Metal is well-regarded for its soundtrack featuring artists such as Don Felder, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, and Devo. Even though the music rights kept the film from getting a home video release until 1997, the soundtrack has constantly been in circulation since the film was first released in 1981.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Queen's Flash Gordon film soundtrack and A Kind of Magic, an unofficial soundtrack album album for Highlander (using six out of nine of the album's listing). Flash Gordon and Highlander were quite kitsch and dated in their own way but the songs gave them both something memorable that people could look back fondly on and which nearly always get brought up in critiques.
  • Xanadu became a cult film in large part because of its soundtrack.
  • Kevin Smith's debut Clerks probably would not have been nearly as successful had he not ended up with a soundtrack filled with various alternative, grunge and punk bands. Most of the budget went towards getting rights for the music.
    • In fact, the Clerks soundtrack made history. The movie was made by Smith selling his possessions and maxing out his credit cards, gathering a budget of just over $27,000. After Miramax picked it up for distribution, they decided it would be more marketable with a hit soundtrack. Securing the music rights cost over $50,000. This made Clerks the first film in history whose soundtrack cost more to produce than the actual film.
  • Until The End Of The World — In 1991, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Elvis Costello, REM, Depeche Mode, and a number of other artists were asked by Wim Wenders to make for his Twenty Minutes into the Future piece the kind of music they thought they'd be making in the year 1999 as the world was about to end.
  • Judgement Night mostly drew attention for its innovative Rap Metal soundtrack, which included collaborations between famous Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal bands (Sonic Youth, Helmet, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Biohazard, Slayer, Living Colour, Dinosaur Jr., Therapy?, Teenage Fanclub, Faith No More) and Rap groups (House Of Pain, Cypress Hill, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Fatal, De La Soul, Run-D.M.C., Onyx, Ice-T, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.).
  • As well received as the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? was, one of its greatest achievements was to bring Old Time, Roots and Bluegrass Music back into the public ear. Its soundtrack album is legendary, having topped the album charts, sold over 7 million copies in the United States alone and won countless awards (including the Grammy for Album of the Year).
  • Tim Burton's film soundtracks have an extensive cult following. Or, rather, Danny Elfman's work as composer has a cult following.
  • Mean Guns. You don't believe how many threads in Russia and Ukraine music search forums are dedicated to finding at least something from the film's score. Though the film itself also has a dedicated fanbase.
  • The Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack, especially in Winnipeg, Canada where it went gold.
  • Hackers' soundtrack was a sampling of techno, rave and electronica in the nineties when rave was near its peak, though the most famous was The Prodigy's "Voodoo People"; it went on to have two more volumes.
  • Clint Mansell is partial to these:
    • π's soundtrack sets the scene for its hallucinogenic plot. Pi r^2 is more famous than the film it was made for.
    • Requiem for a Dream features an amazing collaboration between Mansell and the Kronos Quartet. A remixed version of the main theme gained popularity for its use in the trailer of The Two Towers. It's commonly called "Requiem for a Tower."
    • The The Fountain and Moon both have popular soundtracks.
  • Opinions are divided when it comes to the quality of TRON: Legacy, but most folks agree that the soundtrack Daft Punk cooked up for it is a level of perfection Clu would sign off on.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982) composed by Basil Pouledouris, is famously known for causing hair to grow on listeners in previously unknown places, along with causing heavy metal fans to develop a hankering for classical music. It's also considered one of the all-time great soundtracks, despite the film itself being a total Camp Classic.
  • Lost Highway, The Social Network and Natural Born Killers featured soundtracks compiled by Trent Reznor.
  • Cool World is largely panned, but its soundtrack, featuring industrial rock, electronic and pop songs, is a cult favorite.
  • End of Days, likewise, was largely forgotten, but the soundtrack is noteworthy for featuring off-album tracks by Rob Zombie, Powerman 5000, Everlast, Eminem, Sonic Youth, Korn, Limp Bizkit and Guns N' Roses.
  • The scores to films by John Carpenter are quite often a large part of their cult appeal.
  • Amélie's soundtrack, composed by Yann Tiersen, received rave reviews and even went platinum in Canada. Its songs are still used as atmospheric music in a wide range of media.
  • While Space Jam's quality is debatable, to say the least, many consider its soundtrack to be one of the most underlooked albums of the 90's. Hit Em High (featuring B-Real, Method-Man, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes,) in particular, is considered to be one of the most overlooked songs ever (at least based on by many YouTube commenters. There's also the Space Jam's theme song, with it constantly being mashed up with what seems like almost every other recorded piece of audio.
  • Singles was a mostly-forgettable Cameron Crowe romantic comedy, but its soundtrack was a huge hit. This due to the movie being set in Seattle and the soundtrack (and film) containing many of the stars of the then-nascent "grunge" movement. One of Soundgarden's biggest singles, "Spoonman," was originally conceived as a song playing in the background of a bar.
  • Nineties cult classic Romy & Michele's High School Reunion notably features a soundtrack mostly comprised of '80s pop hits due to its focus on reminiscing about their high school years(Class of '87).
  • Basil Poledouris's score to Cherry 2000 was so popular among film scoring fans that the album used to go for over $1,000 in online auditions (the score was so rare that Poledouris didn't even have a copy until John Waters gave him his personal copy when they did Serial Mom together). A pair of reissues have since remedied this problem but it's still one of Poledouris's more popular scores.
  • City of Angels is probably one of the most famous examples from The Nineties. While the movie itself was largely forgotten within a few years, it featured songs by The Goo Goo Dolls (including the still-popular "Iris", whose music video is based on the plot of this movie), Alanis Morissette ("Uninvited"), U2, and others. The album reached number one on the US Billboard charts for a while.
  • Eduard Artemyev is one of those composers whose entire filmography has a cult following.
  • Percy was an Awful British Sex Comedy which would have been justifiably forgotten, were it not for the fact that the soundtrack was by The Kinks. Features a bit of Soundtrack Dissonance in which a woman strips to the gender-bending song Lola.
  • Trainspotting: Two soundtrack albums were released with various pop, techno and rock songs on it that helped its succes.
  • Quentin Tarantino films reinvigorate the popularity of songs on their soundtracks as much as the careers of the actors in them. Tarantino generally selects them from his personal collection. Many Tarantino fans love his films especially for the soundtracks and have collected those as well.
  • Killing Zoe's electronic score by musical duo tomandandy [sic] became and underground club hit in Europe, and also helped to set Roger Avary apart from former collaborator Quentin Tarantino. It's worth noting that the actual soundtrack album features the score in a drastically different form than was featured in the film.
  • Ennio Morricone: His music for Sergio Leone 's spaghetti westerns has sold millions of copies throughout the decades and is appreciated and recognized even by people who haven't seen the movies.
  • The Third Man: A masterpiece of cinema, but equally remembered for Anton Karas' famous zither music, which sold over millions.
  • Two Hundred Motels: Probably more Frank Zappa fans have enjoyed the soundtrack album than the movie itself, which literally is a Broken Base among fans.
  • Federico Fellini: The Ear Worm soundtracks of Nino Rota for his movies have become just as memorable as the films themselves.
  • John Williams: The music he wrote for the most popular films of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas is unforgettable in its own right.
  • The Bodyguard: The soundtrack album sold millions (!). In fact it's one of the most best selling albums of all time. And yet, most people only bought it for that one song that is much better remembered than the film itself:"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston.
  • Dangerous Minds: A mostly forgotten movie, but Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" became a universal number one hit single and is remembered still.
  • Moonwalker: Not a great or memorable film, but the music video for "Smooth Criminal" has become iconic.
  • Suspiria: Still a cult favorite, equally because of the great soundtrack by Goblin.
  • The first Michael Myers film is still popular, but the soundtrack, oh boy! Many people who never saw any of the films in the ''Halloween franchise will recognize this catchy and haunting tune, because of its use in other movies and TV series.
  • Psycho: Most films by Alfred Hitchcock are memorable for Bernard Herrmann's music, but Psycho in particular has become a Pop-Cultural Osmosis in the sense that many people recognize the famous "shower stabbing" violins from the countless parodies.
  • The Godfather: Who could ever forget Nino Rota's mesmerizing score?
  • A Clockwork Orange: Wendy Carlos' iconic electronical scoring of music by Beethoven and Purcell has achieved lasting appreciation, most specifically for the iconic rendition of "Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary." The rest of the soundtrack are her own compositions and/or regular orchestral music.
  • Zorba The Greek: Mikis Theodorakis' music is more famous nowadays than the film itself.
  • The Exorcist: Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells" has become equally famous.
  • The Great Escape: The music by Elmer Bernstein has become recognizable even to people who never saw this film.
  • The Sting: Similarly, this soundtrack did a lot to make Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" popular among people unfamiliar with ragtime. Unknown to many viewers, the music was anachronistic for the time period portrayed.
  • Chariots of Fire: It may be difficult to find people who still remember the film itself, but Vangelis' soundtrack is still famous even to those who never saw the picture itself.
  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise was a totally forgotten box office disaster, but Vangelis' soundtrack sold in the millions. In fact, three years after the film, "Conquest Of Paradise" became a big hit and is still played in sport stadiums to this day.
  • American Beauty: The soundtrack album was a best seller, due to Thomas Newman's recognizable score, but also because of the alternative rock songs by Elliot Smith, Gomez and Eels.
  • The Harder They Come: One of the best examples of how a soundtrack album can become more popular and famous than the film itself. Even in the 1970s, when it first came out, many owners of the album were unaware it was a movie soundtrack. It's full with beautiful early Reggae music by Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, The Abyssinians and more.
  • The Virgin Suicides: The soundtrack is a cult favorite because of Air wrote the music.
  • Beverly Hills Cop: The soundtrack with music by The Pointer Sisters and Harold Fartelmeyer became a hit album by itself.
  • Can: The German rock band Can even released a whole separate album, "Soundtracks" (1970), with all the music they wrote for nowadays almost forgotten films.
  • Popol Vuh scored several of Werner Herzog 's most famous films.
  • Many Blaxploitation films also fall in this category. Some of the films weren't that memorable, but the soundtrack albums were appreciated a lot better.
  • Dead Man: The echoing, desolate solo electric guitar soundtrack by Neil Young is a cult favorite.
  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai: The soundtrack album by the Wu-Tang Clan is also a cult favorite.
  • Run, Lola, Run, aka Lola Rennt: The soundtrack became a best selling record.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian: The single "Always Look On The Bright Side" from this album has become a popular song among the general public, even to people who aren't Monty Python fans.
  • Batman Forever and Batman & Robin both have eclectic soundtracks regarded MUCH more highly than the movies.
  • This Is Spinal Tap's soundtrack is performed by Spinal Tap.
  • American Graffiti's soundtrack was a huge seller, and played a big role in reviving interest in "oldies" music in the '70s.
  • Turkish Delight has a very iconic soundtrack, performed by Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans.
  • The 1984 crime drama Mike's Murder is best known for its soundtrack by Joe Jackson, which was highly collectable due to being unavailable on CD for many years.
  • The soundtrack to the 1996 movie The Preacher's Wife, starring Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington, is to this day one of the best selling gospel albums of all time. It went 3x platinum in the U.S. and was nominated for 2 Grammys and an Academy Award.
  • Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks by Brian Eno: the music was originally meant for a documentary film about the Apollo moon missions: For All Mankind, but due to lukewarm audience reactions the project was delayed. The album came out in 1983, while the film only got an official release in 1989. Nevertheless: probably more people have listened to the album than does who ever saw the film.
  • The Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack, an Affectionate Parody of Power Pop and Pop Punk tropes, remains a cult item among genre fans.
  • Last Action Hero, aside from prefiguring this very wiki, gathered grunge, traditional Hard Rock, Progressive Metal, and Gangsta Rap on its soundtrack, standing as an enjoyable snapshot of tougher-but-mainstream music circa 1993.
  • Wonderwall, a 1968 film totally forgotten today, but the soundtrack written by Beatle George Harrison, Wonderwall Music is still held in high regard and reached far more notability.
  • Space Is The Place is a 1974 movie starring Sun Ra. The 1993 soundtrack album is the companion piece to it.

     Live Action TV  

  • Battlestar Galactica gained as much praise for the score by Bear McCreary as it did for its diverse characterization, engaging plot, and high production values. For example, when the Season 4 album was released in July 2009, the only albums that outsold it upon release were of Michael Jackson.
  • Cult Classic Supernatural naturally does this intentionally, with a classic rock soundtrack that makes it very distinct from virtually every other show on TheWB/TheCW. Creator Eric Kripke made a point of writing in an early draft of the Pilot's script: CUE MUSIC And you can take your anemic alternative pop and shove it up your ass. Dean plays bass thumping, pile driving Zeppelin, and he plays it loud. It's become one of the show's signature elements (though budget cuts in the later seasons have meant that we hear the music less often), and the pairing of many classic rock songs with iconic scenes on the show have resulted in many of these songs becoming anthems for the show's fans.
  • The Weather Channel has actually offered some of the music played during it's 'Local on the 8's' forecasts on CD.
  • Twin Peaks: Who could ever forget "Theme From Twin Peaks" by Angelo Badalamenti? It became a hit in the charts and more famous than the amount of viewers the cult series itself ever got.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: The group released several albums with music and sketches from the series. One album, "Monty Python Sings", became the best selling record in their catalogue because it compiled all their famous songs from the TV series, the films and the ones written only for the soundtrack albums themselves.

     Video Games  

  • Guile's Theme goes with everything.
  • Frank Klepacki's soundtracks for the Westwood RTS games Dune II, Command & Conquer, etc.
  • Several video game composers have the ability to turn heads simply by having their names attached to a game; some prominent examples are Nobuo Uematsu, Michiru Yamane, Yasunori Mitsuda, Akira Yamaoka, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Yuzo Koshiro, Yoko Shimomura, Akira Yamaoka, Masashi Hamauzu and Manabu Namiki.
  • Ar tonelico has a beautiful soundtrack. There's a heavy emphasis on music and song in the game since the magic is all Magic Music. The developers even went so far as to make multiple fictional languages and several dialects, in which most of the main songs are sung.
  • Many NES games are known for their soundtracks - many more gamers are familiar with the theme tunes to Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid than have actually played the games from which they originated.
  • Touhou. The sheer number of fan-made remixes and arrangements of the series' music is staggering, and a large portion of the fanbase is into the games simply for those songs.
  • Both the Japanese/European and the American soundtracks to Sonic CD are regarded this way, though opinions vary as to which is better.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is known for two things: being one of the worst Sonic games ever, and having one of the best soundtracks of any Sonic game ever.
  • Jet Set Radio just wouldn't be the same without Hideki Naganuma's music, which could easily stand just as well on its own.
  • Weird Snark Bait example: the mindbogglingly cacophonous "music" for CrazyBus has been subject to this. It helps that it's the only thing of real noteworthiness, as the gameplay itself simply consists of driving from one end of the screen to the other.
  • Journey To Silius, a game just barely rescued from the scrapheap after the company lost the license the game was originally based on, is generally remembered solely for its soundtrack.
  • Donkey Kong Country: While The Prerendered Graphics might have aged poorly, its soundtrack still has quite a following to this day.
  • Grim Fandango: The soundtrack by Peter Mc Connell is made up of a mixture of Film-Noir style jazz and Mexican folk music, perfectly matching the game's aesthetic. While it's hard to find, many fans offer free downloads to others as a way to Keep Circulating the Tapes.
  • Deus Ex featured music composed by Alexander Brandon, Michiel van den Bos, Dan Gardopée (who were responsible for the equally cultic Unreal Tournament and Jazz Jackrabbit OS Ts) and Reeves Gabrels.
    • Just like the actual game itself, Deus Ex: Human Revolution's sound track was praised for living up to the original Deus Ex while still being unique and suitable for the new generation of gaming.
  • The songs at the end of Portal and Portal 2 have become very popular.
  • Chrono Cross - the game itself is divisive, but the soundtrack is regarded by almost all who hear it as one of the best in the history of video games.
  • The Silent Hill series came to be known for its soundtracks as much as anything else - which is why the departure of composer Akira Yamaoka from Konami was seen by many fans as the final nail in the series' coffin.
  • Say whatever else you want about Way Of The Warrior, but the one thing that people can at least agree on is that the soundtrack by White Zombie was probably the best part of the game.
  • Andrew Sega's techno/rock soundtrack for the Crusader: No Remorse and No Regret games is memorable and popular among a segment of older PC gamers.
  • Pretty much any OST by Jesper Kyd, especially Hitman.
  • Homeworld's OST by Paul Ruskay is regularly considered one of the best, most evocative soundtracks of all time, and combines the original score with one non-original piece of music. Agnus Dei, the choral version of Barber's Adagio for Strings starts playing when the mission "Return To Kharak" begins, where the Mothership returns to the home planet Kharak, to see half of the planet being consumed by flames, with the entire population exterminated from orbit. Combined with world class voice work that sells the despair and devastation of the scene, it creates one of the saddest moments in the history of gaming, and sets the player a steel resolve to make the enemy pay for what they did. Also, the song that plays over the end credits, recorded by no less a band than Yes, is pretty popular as well.
  • "Cheetahmen" from Action 52 is loved for its soundtrack and little else.
  • Napple Tale is something of a hidden, No Export for You gem on Sega Dreamcast. Its soundtrack has a higher profile than the game, since it was composed by anime soundtrack great Yoko Kanno.
  • Hong Kong 97 has a "soundtrack" that's just composed of a fraction of a song looped throughout the whole game. Usually people enjoy getting it stuck in their head rather than dealing and coping with the horrendous gameplay and visuals.

     Western Animation  

  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers had music by John Van Tongeren and Peter Wetzler with tracks sung by AOR bands FM and Refugee (cult bands in their own right). When Koch Vision was asking the fan list for DVD extras, the unanimous vote was for the soundtrack.
  • The sparse amount of music in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has apparently been enough to inspire an entire genre of fan remixes, including a Guile-style soundtrack for the much-anticipated fighting game My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic.
  • Disney: The Walt Disney Company produced so many memorable and catchy songs that they have practically become standards.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: The incidental music used in many of the cartoons has been compiled and released on CD. It's just as enjoyable as the cartoons itself.
  • The Simpsons: Many songs from the series have become beloved among fans and have been released on no less than three soundtrack albums
  • Looney Tunes: Carl Stalling's compositions for the Warner Brothers cartoons have become cult favorites themselves because of the wonderfully entertaining and complex arrangements and shout outs to famous classical music tunes and popular melodies. Also, because he borrowed a lot from Raymond Scott's compostions Scott too became more famous as a result.