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10 of the Best Modern Movie and TV Soundtracks

When considering what makes a television show or film extra special, we tend to think of the cast, the acting and the plotline. But often we overlook how good the soundtracks to our favorite movies or TV shows are, and often it is the music that makes a scene that much more impactual or invokes a certain feeling while we watch. Here are some of the best modern movie and TV soundtracks.

Big Little Lies – Diana

When I first heard Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart”, the theme song for Big Little Lies, I instantly fell in love. Although I haven’t actually watched the HBO hit, I’ve become very much obsessed with the soundtrack. It mainly consists of 60’s hits and modern 60’s-inspired songs  and has an overall mellow, R&B vibe.

Personal favorites: “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka, “That Was Yesterday” by Leon Bridges, “Hollywood Florida” by Colman, “Keep on Loving You” by Cigarettes After Sex, and “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” by Jimmy Ruffin.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Alexa

Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 were two of Marvel’s many box office hits that featured a nostalgic soundtrack consisting of many 70’s and 80’s hits. I, along with my friends, sang along in theaters to Fleetwood Mac, Queen, and Thin Lizzie. Most of the songs on the album put me in an instantly better mood and remind me of what my dad used to play around the house growing up.

Personal Favorites: “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede, “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways, “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy, “Come And Get Your Love” by Redbone, and “O-o-h Child” by The Five Stairsteps.

Inception – Diana

The whole Inception soundtrack consists of instrumentals composed by Hans Zimmer, but each song makes you feel like you’re in the movie itself. I love this album because it’s the perfect study music, as its wordlessness helps me focus me while I write papers or code. Each track leaves me feeling extremely moved and highly motivated.

Personal favorites: “Time” by Hans Zimmer, “Old Souls” by Hans Zimmer, “528491” by Hans Zimmer, and “Dream Within a Dream” by Hans Zimmer.

The Great Gatsby – Alexa

This classic novel remake consists of an amazing lineup of soundtracks that capture the feel of the roaring 20’s with a modern twist. When this movie came out, I immediately purchased a copy of the album and it became the soundtrack of my summer.

Personal Favorites: “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie, Q-Tip, and GoonRock, “Hearts A Mess” by Gotye, “100$ Bill” by JAY Z, “No Church In the Wild” by JAY Z and Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean and The-Dream, and “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey.

Grey’s Anatomy – Diana

Grey’s Anatomy has a track record for making its viewers sob uncontrollably with its gut-wrenching and heartwarming scenes. The show’s soundtrack does the same. Each song has been handpicked to evoke the strongest of emotions, which allows viewers to feel every scene as though they are experiencing the heartbreak and loss the characters face themselves.

Personal Favorites: “Feels Like The End” by Mikky Ekko, “When It Don’t Come Easy” by Sleeping at Last, “Into The Fire – Acoustic” by Thirteen Senses, “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle, and “Water” by Bishop Briggs.

Black Panther – Alexa

Another Marvel blockbuster, Black Panther was groundbreaking not only for its cast and plot, but also for its soundtrack. Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar produced 14 original songs for the movie. The songs not only add to the movie as a whole, but feature some of the best voices in the R&B and hip-hop community.

Personal Favorites: “All the Stars (with SZA)” by Kendrick Lamar, “I Am” by Jorja Smith, “Pray For Me (with Kendrick Lamar)” by The Weeknd, “Paramedic!” by SOB X RBE, and “X (with 2 Chainz & Saudi) by ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, and Saudi.

13 Reasons Why – Diana

While 13 Reasons Why made waves due to its controversial themes and scenes, the soundtrack is not up for debate at all: it’s amazing, in my opinion. It features both upbeat and slower songs by pop artists like 5 Seconds of Summer and Billie Eilish, but also includes darker and more grungier sounds by artists such as The Cure and The Decermberists.

Personal Favorites: “Cool Blue” by The Japanese House, “Promise Not To Fall” by Human Touch, “Tangled Up” by Parade of Lights, and “Falling Skies (feat. Charlotte Lawrence)” by YUNGBLUD.

The Vampire Diaries – Alexa

The Vampire Diaries was one of those shows where I was always Shazaming the songs that came on during some of the most pivotal and emotionally-charged scenes. The song list consists of more dramatic and moody music to fit the brooding drama amongst vampires and humans in a small town.

Personal Favorites: “A Drop in The Ocean” by Ron Rope, “Bloodstream” by Stateless, “Run” by Leona Lewis, “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars, “In My Veins” by Andrew Belle feat. Egin Mccarley, “Breathe Again” by Sara Bareilles, “Wings” by Birdy, and “Au Revoir” by OneRepublic.

Chuck – Diana

Chuck is one of those shows I binged in a few weeks, and I remember that in that short period of time I discovered many of my now favorite songs. The show features a lot of older songs, but also includes newer artists in its mix. The perfect balance between rock, indie, and pop hits, the Chuck soundtrack is one you must listen to.

Personal Favorites: “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses, “Creature Fear” by Bon Iver, “Don’t Give Up On Us Now” by Menew, “We Don’t Eat” by James Vincent McMorrow, “Silvia” by Miike Snow, “Cruel and Beautiful World” by Grouplove, and “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart.

Atlanta – Alexa

Atlanta was created by and stars Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino, so you know the soundtrack to this show is going to be exceptional. A lot of the songs featured pay homage to Glover’s own hip-hop and R&B career, which makes this soundtrack a favorite of mine.

Personal Favorites: “Impatient” by Jeremih feat. Ty Dolla Sign, “Ms. Jackson” by OutKast, “oui” by Jeremih, “3005” by Childish Gambino, and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” by Tame Impala.

You don’t have to turn to television or movies just for the storyline or because your favorite actors or actresses are in them. The music and score of our favorite cinematic pieces are what makes an impression on spectators, and these are just some of the many fantastic soundtracks there are in modern television and movies.

Diana Del Gaudio is a senior at Rutgers University - New Brunswick majoring in computer science and minoring in psychology. She runs on little sleep and a lot of coffee. You can find her most days writing code, writing stories, and writing songs.
Alexa is a senior at Rutgers University - New Brunswick majoring in Supply Chain Management. She has a love for fashion and is obsessed with iced tea. In her spare time she can be found shopping or walking dogs.
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