6 Movie Soundtracks That Put the Actual Movie to Shame

#3. Empire Records

Warner Bros./Regency Entertainment

Empire Records is essentially Reality Bites and/or Singles for people who were in high school in the '90s instead of college, which is fitting, because the movie feels like the type of "Man, I just want to work in a record store with a bunch of awesome people for the rest of my life" fantasy that a high school student would have. It bombed when it came out and was farted upon by critics, despite the presence of Liv Tyler's midriff and Ethan Embry's dopey moon face, which would later prove to be a much more successful combination in the objectively superior musical comedy That Thing You Do!

Warner Bros./Regency Entertainment via YouTube

Warner Bros./Regency Entertainment via YouTube
The world simply wasn't ready yet.

The Soundtrack:

Despite its $270,000 theatrical run, Empire Records has an overwhelming cult following thanks to all the music featured both in the film and on the soundtrack. The soundtrack was reasonably successful, featuring "Til I Hear It from You" by the Gin Blossoms (the penultimate top-ten single of the Gin Blossoms' entire career, and the first one not written by the guy who got forced out of the band and later shot himself) and "A Girl Like You" by Edwyn Collins (which had appeared on one of Collins' albums the previous year but wasn't released as a single until Empire Records). "A Girl Like You" went on to be used in several more movies and TV shows, and becomes the quintessential "Hey, I remember that song!" whenever it is heard in public, particularly when it is heard by Edwyn Collins.

Warner Bros/A&M Records/Setanta Records via YouTube
"Oh, that's right! I did exist!"

The movie itself features over 30 songs from a handful of moderately obscure rock bands of the mid-'90s, so watching it is like stepping inside a Gen-X time capsule with Matt Pinfield. If the movie wasn't drowning in a nostalgia-laden licensed score and was about a bunch of kids trying to save a rec center instead of a record store, nobody would care about it, and Empire Records would have dwindled into VHS oblivion. Just like all those movies they made about kids trying to save rec centers in the 1980s.

Warner Bros./Regency Entertainment via YouTube
If those movies taught me anything, it's that nothing staves off financial ruin like irreverent dancing.

#2. With Honors

Warner Bros. via YouTube

With Honors is an embarrassing melodrama about a hobo named Joe Pesci who burns Brendan Fraser's college thesis in order to blackmail him for food and shelter but winds up dying anyway to teach Brendan that class warfare is wrong. It got terrible reviews, did mediocre box office, and was played endlessly on HBO for a short window in the mid-'90s before disappearing into obscurity forever alongside virtually every John Grisham movie ever produced.

Warner Bros.
And 60 percent of the careers on this poster.

The Soundtrack:

The one and only single from the With Honors soundtrack, "I'll Remember" by Madonna, reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts and sold over 500,000 copies.

Maverick/Sire/Warner Bros. Records
Notice that Brendan Fraser does not appear anywhere on this packaging.

Additionally, it received both Grammy and Golden Globe nominations, making it one of the most critically and commercially successful releases of Madonna's career, which isn't bad for the official theme song to a 20-year-old movie about the lessons of homeless Joe Pesci.

Warner Bros. via YouTube
Lesson 1.

Oddly, a few of Madonna's biggest songs ("Live to Tell," "This Used to Be My Playground") came from soundtracks, which suggests that either A) Madonna is a genius who realizes that film studios will market the shit out of her songs for free or B) Madonna is some kind of vampire wizard who draws her power from the motion picture industry. Her marriage to Guy Ritchie and the quality of his subsequent films lends credibility to that second theory.

Maverick/Sire/Warner Bros. Records
"Great take, Madonna! Also, why the fuck are you dressed like Anne Rice?"

#1. The Bodyguard

Warner Bros./Arista Records

The Bodyguard is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, ever, in the history of light entering my eyeballs and being translated into images. It was made during that confusing window of the early '90s when people thought that Kevin Costner was incredible, and that Bobby Brown was the only person in Bobby Brown's marriage doing drugs. Whitney Houston spends much of the movie dressed like she is about to host a monster truck rally in Thunderdome:

Warner Bros. via YouTube

However, the film's most fanciful moment occurs when her character wins an Academy Award for Best Actress at a ceremony hosted by Robert Wuhl. There are so many things wrong with that picture; it's like the back cover of Highlights magazine.

The Soundtrack:

The Bodyguard soundtrack is one of the most successful albums ever recorded. Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" went quadruple platinum, and the soundtrack album itself was certified 17 times platinum just in America. Worldwide it sold 45 million copies. That means one out of every 160 people on the entire planet bought that freaking album.

Warner Bros./Arista Records via YouTube
Sitting on a chair in the middle of a forest is an unspoken requirement of R&B singers.

Even more incredible is the fact that "I Will Always Love You" is a song Dolly Parton wrote in the 1970s. Dolly's version wasn't a rare B-side or anything, either -- it was a No. 1 Billboard hit. Whitney Houston's version was so good that it erased people's memories, and it was recorded for a movie widely considered to be one of the shittiest things the human race has ever created.

Warner Bros. via YouTube
"Don't look at it, Whitney! For God's sake, don't look at it!"

Tom will defend the Jerky Boys soundtrack to his dying breath. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

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