The Soundtrack Album Revival Of 2017
One of the more curious chart developments of 2017 is the renewed popularity of soundtrack albums. Once considered a relic of the ’80s and ’90s, expertly-curated movie, TV, Broadway and video game tie-ins are big business again. Just take a look at the iTunes album chart. There are currently 13 soundtracks in the top 50 including Guardians Of The Galaxy Volumes 1 & 2, Moana (standard and deluxe), Trolls, Beauty And The Beast, Hamilton, Sing, Big Little Lies, The Fate of The Furious, 13 Reasons Why, La La Land and Persona 5.
Why are people buying soundtrack albums again? Well, some of these are no-brainers. Disney’s kid-friendly albums have always sold well to frazzled parents looking to distract their offspring, while musicals like La La Land and Hamilton have a built-in following. The other big-sellers take a little more explaining. I suspect it has a lot to do with the way most of us are consuming music, namely via Spotify playlists. And what’s a soundtrack if not an OG playlist? Not only that, but studios and labels are finding new and clever ways to brand them.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy albums collect fist-pumping, feel-good ’80s anthems, both well-known and obscure, while Fate Of The Furious is intricately linked with the hip-hop community and leverages that to access new music by heavy-hitters like Migos, Lil Yachty and G-Eazy. And there are cult TV shows like 13 Reasons Why and Big Little Lies, which both owe a massive debt to their music supervisor. The former is a painstakingly curated collection of old and new shoe-gazing anthems for the casually depressed, while HBO successfully combines obscure folk ditties with soul songs.
None of the above-mentioned albums have managed to command our attention like The Bodyguard or Dirty Dancing soundtracks, but that might change when execs realize there’s (a lot of) money to be made and start getting their A-List talent involved.