Whether it’s about music or not, the quality of a soundtrack can make or break any film. A bad one can make otherwise emotional scenes appear cheesy, and a good one can elevate the impact of a well-written script and potentially move viewers to tears. For example, how would you feel if The Breakfast Club ended with Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and Shrek opened with Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” rather than vice versa? It just wouldn’t work. Luckily, there are a ton of great movies out there that have soundtracks as good as — if not better than — the films themselves.
With over 200 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix has become the leading streaming service in the game. As it’s continued to churn out films at a rapid rate, releasing one new original film per week in 2021, the streamer has become a master soundtrack curator. Thanks to a significant placement in the 2019 romantic comedy Someone Great, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” gained increased fanfare that helped it become a No. 1 hit nearly three years after its initial release. Additionally, the platform’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga spawned “Husavik (My Hometown),” which received a Best Original Song nomination at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021. Between those films and many others, here are 23 movies on Netflix with excellent soundtracks.
1. Someone Great
This Netflix original rom-com centers around a Rolling Stone journalist played by Gina Rodriguez, so it’s only right that the film boasts a top-notch soundtrack. In fact, its use of Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” actually catapulted the song to hit success years after its initial release. Other critically-acclaimed bops featured in the movie include Lorde’s “Supercut,” Frank Ocean’s “Moon River,” and Robyn’s “Missing U.”
2. The To All the Boys Trilogy
The latter two films in Netflix’s To All the Boys trilogy were accompanied by a soundtrack of original and previously-released music from the movies. Among the many songs are MARINA’s “About Love,” FLETCHER’s “On Fire Again,” and Spice Girls’ classic “Wannabe.”
3. Legally Blonde
Before it was turned into a Broadway musical, the only music Legally Blonde was known for was the iconic early aughts hits featured in the 2001 rom-com. Hoku’s “Perfect Day” opens the film, which also features Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” as well as songs from Black Eyed Peas and Lisa Loeb.
This 2021 young feminist comedy follows a teenage girl who tackles sexism at her school after finding inspiration from her mom’s rebellious Riot Grrrl past. Its soundtrack features lots of angsty music from women like Beth Ditto of Gossip, Princess Nokia, Tierra Whack, Lucy Dacus, as well as covers of Bikini Kill songs performed by viral teen band The Linda Lindas.
Starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, this coming-of-age teen comedy follow two high schoolers determined to attend a party and lose their virginities before graduation. The adventure is soundtracked by high-energy songs from The Notorious B.I.G., KC and the Sunshine Band, Motörhead, Van Halen, The Roots, and Rick James.
6. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
With a plot that centers around a battle of the bands competition, this cult classic film is stacked with memorable songs, like “Threshold” and “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” by the fictional band Sex Bob-Omb, aka Michael Cera, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Brian LeBarton, and Beck, who composed much of the soundtrack. The action-comedy also features music from The Rolling Stones, T. Rex, and Metric.
7. Lady Bird
Taking place in the early 2000s, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird features many time-tested hits from the era, like Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me,” Alanis Morisette’s “Hand in My Pocket,” Ani DiFranco’s “Little Plastic Castle,” and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Tha Crossroads.”
8. Work It
Released in 2020, this Alicia Keys-produced jukebox musical comedy film follows an 18-year-old striving to refine her dance skills in order to enter a competition. Pop star Sabrina Carpenter stars in Work It, which features three of her songs on its soundtrack: “Let Me Love You,” “Looking at Me,” and “WOW” with Zara Larsson. Watching it feels like a night at a club, as it also features recent pop hits from Dua Lipa, Ciara, Meghan Trainor, and Normani.
9. What A Girl Wants
Unfortunately, this 2003 film starring Amanda Bynes doesn’t feature the Christina Aguilera hit of the same name, but it does feature many other early ’00s hits like Michelle Branch’s “You Get Me,” Willa Ford’s “I Wanna Be Bad,” The Donnas’ “Who Invited You,” and Meredith Brooks’ “Crazy.”
Following a young pageant beauty queen nicknamed Dumplin’ with a deep connection to Dolly Parton, this 2018 Netflix original coming-of-age comedy features an entire soundtrack of the country legend’s music. It includes six new songs like the Oscar-nominated “Girl in the Movies” as well as new versions of her classic hits like “Jolene” and “Here We Go Again” recorded as duets with singers like Sia, Macy Gray, Miranda Lambert, and Elle King.
11. The Bling Ring
This cult classic Sofia Coppola film is based on the real-life Hollywood burglaries of the late aughts, which you likely watched unfold through Alexis Neiers’ short-lived reality show Pretty Wild. Featuring Azealia Banks’ “212,” M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls,” and Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” its soundtrack will bring you back to a time when Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Audrina Patridge were A-list enough to tempt a group of teens to rob their homes.
12. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Based on the real-life annual music competition, this Netflix original musical comedy stars Will Ferrel and Rachel McAdams as Icelandic performers determined to win. Its Grammy-nominated soundtrack includes the Oscar-nominated “Husavik (My Hometown)” as well as other original songs by the writers behind many of Ariana Grande’s hits — and a track performed by Demi Lovato, who appears in the film.
13. Les Misérables
This Oscar-winning musical film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway spawned a top-charting soundtrack of new versions of Broadway favorites like “I Dreamed A Dream,” “Suddenly,” and “On My Own.”
Starring Al Pacino, this classic crime drama film’s soundtrack was created by Giorgio Moroder, aka the “Father of Disco.” It features tracks by Moroder as well as Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Amy Holland, and the memorable title track “Scarface (Push It to the Limit)” by Paul Engemann.
15. Get On Up
Chronicling the life of funk legend James Brown, played by the late Chadwick Boseman, this critically acclaimed 2014 biopic features a slew of his memorable hits, including “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Get Up Offa That Thing,” and “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
16. Always Be My Maybe
Titled after Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” this 2019 Netflix original rom-com centers around an ex-teenage couple who rekindles their relationship years later. In addition to Carey’s hit, the film features original music performed by the fictional band Hello Peril (including a track called “I Punched Keanu Reeves”) as well as bops from Lizzo, Alicia Keys, and Ludacris.
17. The Prom
After the original Broadway version was nominated for six Tony awards, filmmaker Ryan Murphy adapted the LGBTQ-focused comedic musical The Prom for Netflix and cast Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and James Corden in its lead roles. Mainly written by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the musical boasts upbeat, hilarious, and touching tunes about acceptance and love.
18. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Starring Viola Davis and Boseman in his final film role, this Oscar-winning musical drama follows real-life blues singer Ma Rainey during a turbulent recording session in 1920s Chicago. It centers on the recording of the titular song “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” but also features other known hits by the musician, including “Deep Moaning Blues,” “Those Dogs of Mine,” and “Hear Me Talking To You.”
19. Rain Man
Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, this 1988 drama film won Best Picture at the 61st Academy Awards, and its music by famed composer Hans Zimmer received a nod for Best Original Score. In addition to his excellent score, the film’s soundtrack includes Etta James’ “At Last” and The Belle Stars’ take on The Dixie Cups’ “Iko Iko,” which Rain Man helped propel to the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, making it the most successful recording of the song.
20. My Best Friend’s Wedding
A global box office smash in 1997, My Best Friend’s Wedding received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score. Its soundtrack was certified double platinum by the RIAA for selling over two million copies in the United States — partially because it featured songs like Tony Bennett’s “The Way You Look Tonight” and Diana King’s hit cover of Dionne Warwick’s “I Say A Little Prayer” are memorably intertwined with the film’s plot.
21. Notting Hill
Awarded a Brit for Best Soundtrack in 2000, it’s safe to say the music featured throughout the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant-starring Notting Hill is top-notch. The platinum-certified collection is also likely one of few to feature Shania Twain’s “You’ve Got A Way,” 98 Degrees’ “I Do (Cherish You),” and Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” in the same 13-track set.
22. The Sweetest Thing
This ridiculous 2002 romantic comedy stars Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair and features tracks like Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” Usher’s “U Got It Bad,” and Peaches & Herb’s “Shake Your Groove Thing,” which are sure to have you singing along. Even more memorable is the film’s original “Penis Song” and cast performance of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” that saves Blair’s character from an uncomfortably sticky sexual scenario.
23. Malcolm & Marie
Sam Levinson teamed up with his Euphoria colleague Zendaya and actor John David Washington for this black-and-white romantic drama about a filmmaker and his girlfriend as their relationship is challenged by a series of self-realizations one night. Executive produced by Kid Cudi, the film boasts an eclectic soundtrack featuring Dionne Warwick, Outkast, James Brown, and Little Simz, perfect to accompany the moody film.
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