The Best Soundtracks Of The ’90s You Can Hardly Wait To Listen To Again

Idolator Staff | May 22, 2018 1:20 pm

The 1990s were a special time. Waterparks were all the rage and people still considered bowling a date night activity. One of the best parts about the decade, though, was movie soundtracks. You know you still remember that one song that made you fall in love.

Movies from the 1990s provided the soundtracks of our lives. From Can’t Hardly Wait to Batman Forever, these are the best of the best 1990s soundtracks. Number nine will cause major flashbacks.

Armageddon Will Make You Cry…. In A Good Way


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Released in 1998, Armageddon is a classic soundtrack that turns the Michael Bay doomsday film into a tearjerker. There’s never a dry eye left in the theater when Stephen Tyler starts belting out “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.”

The soundtrack sold over four million copies, led by the Dianne Warren-penned ballad. It was nominated for an Oscar and was Aerosmith’s first number one hit in 28 years! Aerosmith has two more tracks featured on the album alongside a bevy of modern and classic rock tracks.

The Bodyguard Will Always Love You

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The Bodyguard is one of the best selling soundtracks of all time. With six songs by Whitney Houston, including “I Will Always Love You,” the album has sold over 13 million copies in the United States. Overseas it has sold an estimated 42 million units worldwide.

Among other honors, two tracks were Oscar-nominated for “Best Original Song.” They lost to “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. In 2017, a 25th-anniversary edition of the album was released.

Space Jam Sent Michael Jordan Flying

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Space Jam is a ’90s movie about Looney Tunes characters teaming up with Michael Jordan to beat aliens at basketball. The soundtrack to the film is everything you want it to be and more. The most well-known song is “I Believe I Can Fly,” but the best song is the title track, rapped by Quad City DJs.

Two months after being released in 1996, the Space Jam soundtrack sold two million copies. Five-years-later that figure shot up to six million. With any luck, the sequel soundtrack will be just as good, if it ever gets made. Next up, one of the biggest movies of the decade is also one of the best selling soundtracks of all time!

Forrest Gump Brings The Hits

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Selling ten million albums since its release, Forrest Gump has earned its spot as one of the best 1990s soundtracks of all-time. Featuring a mix of 34 tracks spanning the 20th century, Forrest Gump peaked at number two on the Billboard album charts and stayed there for seven weeks.

Because there was no original music on the Forrest Gump soundtrack, it was not eligible for awards. The film that inspired it, however, was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture.

Batman Forever Is Kissed By A Rose

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In 1995, the Caped Crusader reinvented his image with Batman Forever. Featuring the number one single, “Kiss From A Rose,” the soundtrack peaked at number five on the charts and nearly sold as many copies as Prince’s 1989 Batman album.

The single skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won three Grammy Awards. Of course, the song was not written for the movie soundtrack but helped push it to become one of the most popular film companions of the decade. Playing alongside songs from The Offspring, Method Man, and The Flaming Lips didn’t hurt either!

Dangerous Minds Brings Us Into The Gangsta’s Paradise”

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One of the most influential soundtracks from 1995, Dangerous Minds sold one million copies in two months after its release. It was hailed by Allmusic as, “an expertly-crafted urban R&B/hip-hop collection, featuring stellar production and songwriting.”

Coolio’s hip-hop epic “Gangsta’s Paradise” opens the album and is followed with tracks from the biggest rappers of the ’90s. For his trailblazing song, Coolio was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Coming up, Will Smith uses Men In Black to take the music world by storm!

Men In Black Brings Back Will Smith

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Men In Black was Will Smith’s return to the music industry. Starring in the film alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Smith also wrote and performed the lead single from the soundtrack. The soundtrack sold over three million copies.

Not buoyed by Will Smith alone, the album also features songs from Nas, Jermaine Dupri, and Alicia Keys. The song “Dah Dee Dah” was Keys’ first professional recording after signing a record deal with So Def Recordings.

Can’t Hardly Wait Is A Cult Classic

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Can’t Hardly Wait came out in 1998 and grossed $25 million. Since then it has gone on to earn cult status alongside its time capsule of a soundtrack. The tracklisting is pure 1990s pop-punk and hip-hop. With tracks from Smash Mouth and Blink-182, it’s hard not to listen to the album and smile.

Oddly enough, the most important song from the film is not on the soundtrack. “Mandy” by Barry Manilow plays on the radio near the end of Can’t Hardly Wait. The song would feel out of place sandwiched between “Hit ‘Em Wit Da Hee” and “Paradise City.”

American Pie Gives Can’t Hardly Wait A Run For Its Money

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One year after Can’t Hardly Wait failed to take the world by storm, American Pie became the teen comedy that defined the ’90s. Its soundtrack, with songs by Alien Ant Farm, Blink-182 (who cameoed in the movie), Sugar Ray, and Third Eye Blind, was just as era-defining.

Unlike other soundtracks on this list, American Pie did not win any awards for its music. It’s one of those albums you return to almost 20 years later to re-live the “greatest years of your life.” Then, when it’s over, you take the CD out of the Discman and get back to work. Next, Whitney Houston proves she’s the soundtrack queen of the ’90s!

Waiting To Exhale Blows Away The Competition

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Whitney Houston was the soundtrack Queen of the ’90s. Three years after The Bodyguard, Houston starred in and recorded the music for Waiting To Exhale. Written and produced by Babyface, the album spent four weeks at number one and spawned five hit singles.

Selling seven million copies, Waiting To Exhale earned 11 Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year. It also won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. In 2012, the album resurfaced, finishing the year as the 12th best selling soundtrack.

Romeo + Juliet Isn’t The High School Romance You Remember

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Romeo + Juliet is the second film in Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy. Stuffed in between Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge!, the take on a Shakespeare classic is the best soundtrack of the bunch. It includes tracks by Garbage, Radiohead, and Everclear, but the Cardigans get credit for the most memorable track.

It was impossible to turn on the radio in 1996 without hearing “Lovefool.” Thanks to the success of The Cardigans song, Romeo + Juliet sold three million copies in the United States. In Luhrmann’s native Australia it was the second best selling album of 1997. Our next soundtrack gave the world “Iris” and now we’re crying!

City Of Angels Is Remembered For Its Music

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City of Angels is a cheesy romantic drama from 1998 about a guardian angel played by Nicholas Cage who falls in love with Meg Ryan. The film was forgettable. The soundtrack, featuring U2, Alanis Morisette, Goo Goo Dolls, and Sarah McLachlan is a sweeping emotional rollercoaster.

Propelled by lead track, “Iris,” City of Angels sold close to six million albums. It was the seventh highest selling album of the year. The song spent a record 18 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 airplay chart.

Soul Food Is Music For The Soul

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Soul Food was released in 1997 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Selling over two million albums, the soundtrack to the film produced four hit singles. With songs from Usher, En Vogue, and Outkast, the album received a Grammy nomination for “A Song for Mama,” performed by Boyz II Men.

Allmusic called the soundtrack one of the best in Babyface’s catalog. Reviewer Thomas Erlewine said, ” It’s all tied together by his gift for melodic, well-crafted songs and production… Nearly every track on Soul Food works.”

Clueless Is Surprisingly Smart


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Using music by Radiohead, Coolio, Supergrass, and the Counting Crows, the soundtrack to Clueless will forever live in a bubble of ’90s pop.

Not surprisingly, Radiohead was not happy with the use of their “Fake Plastic Trees” cover being used. Described as “cry-baby music,” by Cher in the film, Thom Yorke didn’t get the joke. In an interview after the film’s release he said, “[expletive] you, we’re for 3D people.” Stick around for another Shakespeare adaptation that has ten reasons to hate you!

10 Things I Hate About You Loves Good Music

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Another Shakespeare adaptation, 10 Things I Hate About You takes Taming of the Shrew and turns it into a coming of age story. The soundtrack features rock hits of the ’70s and ’90s, including a cover of “I Want You To Want Me” performed by Letters to Cleo.

Allmusic described the album as, “One of the best modern rock soundtracks of the spring 1999 season.” It’s hard to deny the claim with Semisonic and The Cardigans making appearances on the album. For Semisonic, the album brought attention to “Fascinating New Things,” a song that had been released four years earlier in 1995.

Reality Bites Soundtrack Was More Successful Than The Movie

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Reality Bites was supposed to be the defining film of the ’90s for those growing up. Directed by Ben Stiller, and starring Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder, the romantic comedy follows Ryder’s character, an aspiring videographer, while she films her social documentary. The soundtrack was a massive success, selling 1.2 million copies.

Reality Bites was the 63rd highest grossing film of 1994. The soundtrack produced the number one hit single, “Stay” performed by Lisa Loeb. Since being released, Reality Bites has earned cult status, thank in part to the enduring legacy of its soundtrack.

Wild Wild West Continued Will Smith’s Hot Streak

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Following the success of Men In Black, Will Smith starred in and performed the lead single for Wild Wild West. Based on the success of the single, the album sold two million copies its first week of release. The movie was considered a failure, however, only making $113 million against a $170 million budget.

Interestingly, Wild Wild West gave Lil Bow Wow his start with the song “Stick up.” The album also featured Eminem on the track “Bad Guys Always Die,” by Dr. Dre. In 2000, Eminem took a shot at Will Smith on his breakthrough tracks, “The Real Slim Shady.”

The Craft Is An Underrated Gem


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A surprise hit in 1996, The Craft is a film about four outcast teenagers who turn to witchcraft. The soundtrack perfectly suited the horror film’s dark subject matter. Using songs from Our Lady Peace, Spacehog, Sponge, and Letters to Cleo, The Craft soundtrack can be described as a soundtrack for troubled youth.

If the film hadn’t been a surprise hit, though, who knows if we would be talking about the soundtrack today. No hit singles were released from the compilation. In 2016, Columbia Pictures began developing a sequel to The Craft. The idea was met with intense negativity from the film’s devoted fanbase. Next up, a “bittersweet” soundtrack with cruel intentions!

Cruel Intentions Was Always About The Music

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Cruel Intentions can be described as a movie to sell music. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillipe, the movie was a hit, and the soundtrack took it to another level. Going down the tracklist, Cruel Intentions is a who’s who of ’90s alternative rock artists.

“Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve is the most famous song on the album, and also the most controversial. The band was sued by The Rolling Stones for sampling their track “The Last Time.” They ended up giving up all royalties earned to pay back The Rolling Stones.

New Jack City Proves Crime Pays

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New Jack City was the highest grossing independent film of 1991. Taking in $47 million domestically, the movie starred Wesley Snipes as a rising drug dealer being pursued by an undercover detective, played by Ice-T. The artist also contributed a song to the hit soundtrack.

Queen Latifah, 2 Live Crew, and Keith Sweat are also on the album. It has a distinct “new jack swing” feel to it and peaked at number two on the Billboard album charts. Impressively, it was the top-selling hip-hop album for eight straight weeks after its release.