Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes #40: 10 Highest-Grossing Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Ah, movie soundtracks.  Movie soundtracks actually hold quite a bit of power with their cinema counterparts, especially if said counterpart is basically a piece of crap film.  Great soundtracks often act as a solid grounding to the

We’ve talked about how the Twilight trilogy was (sort of) saved by its soundtracks, but today we’re going to focus on soundtracks that we’re exactly the life force of their films, but they definitely made butt-tons of money.

10 Highest-Grossing Movie Soundtracks of All Time

One thing that I found funny about this list is, while I haven’t actually viewed a big chunk of these movies, I have actually listened to at least one or two songs from each of these soundtracks at one point or another.  That definitely speaks to the power of a good soundtrack.

These soundtracks have their place in this top 10 for varying reasons.  While some have found their fortune in single hits that topped charts thanks to the film’s release, other soundtracks are successful for the album as a whole.

Regardless of how they got there, however, all of these movie soundtracks have successfully blocked out the likes of Frozen and High School Musical from the coveted top ten.  Which, considering some of these albums are over forty-years-old, that’s a big freaking deal.

10. Flashdance (1983)

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Flashdance is a story about an 18-year-old steel mill worker by day, exotic dancer by night–you know, the one where she pours the water over herself while sitting on the chair?  Yep, that one.

The soundtrack for the film has sold over six million copies, earning it the number ten spot on the list.  Most notable tracks include “Flashdance… What a Feeling” and “Maniac“, both of which you’ve probably seen parodied countless times on a variety of film and television shows.

9. Space Jam (1996)

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I was six at the time of Space Jam‘s release, so it didn’t really cross my mind at the time how insane the premise of the movie was.  Now the highest-grossing basketball film of all time, Space Jam is a strangely satisfying combination of NBA all-star, Michael Jordan, and the Looney Toons crew.  I still have the VHS and the CD to this day!

Over six million copies sold, the Space Jam soundtrack is memorable for “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Fly Like an Eagle“, but you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

8. Waiting to Exhale (1995)

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Waiting to Exhale, based on the novel of the same name, is about four females and how they feel like they can’t quite breathe until they finally find themselves in fully committed and comfortable relationship.  A social phenomenon of the time as it notably featured an all-African American cast.

The soundtrack was exclusively female African American artists, including the likes of Whitney Houston (who also starred in the film), Brandy, and Mary J. Blige, and sold over seven million copies.  Noteworthy tracks include, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” and “Why Does It Hurt So Bad“.

7. Grease (1978)

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Grease is certainly a classic, earning its way onto three of the American Film Institutes lists, including coming in at number 20 on their list for Greatest Movie Musicals.  The classic tale of a bad boy and a good girl as high school seniors in the late 1950s, Grease is a romantic musical comedy that was able to break The Sound of Music‘s 13-year record of highest-grossing musical ever.

Grease has countlessly well-known songs, but it’s most well-recognized are probably “You’re the One That I Want” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You“.  The soundtrack has sold over 8 million copies.

6. Titanic (1997)

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Even as a seven-year-old in fourth grade, the sheer popularity of Titantic‘s soundtrack did not surpass me.  I remember kids coming to school literally bragging that they had the CD and that they were able to listen to the notable track 14 as much as they like.  Titanic, a fictional retelling of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, achieved both critical as well as commercial success, including 14 Academy Award nominations.

11 million copies sold, I hardly need to mention what that favored track 14 is (“My Heart Will Go On“, of course).  And, looking at the album cover, I’m just realizing how dorky that font overlay on the title is, ha.

5. Dirty Dancing (1987)

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“Nobody puts Baby in the corner!”  Sorry, it had to be said.  Dirty Dancing was originally a film from a new studio on a tiny budget and yet went on to be a box office hit.  Following a seen-again plot of the love of kid from differing backgrounds, Dirty Dancing‘s real success is in its execution of remarkable choreography and a strong soundtrack.

Over 11 million copies sold, the soundtrack’s hits are also commonly seen parodies, including “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “She’s Like the Wind“.

4. Forrest Gump (1994)

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Based on the novel of the same name, Forrest Gump details the story of a slow-witted but kind and athletically gifted man in Alabama and his witness of the significant events of the latter part of the 20th century.  The film earned an insane amount of nominations, including Golden Globes, People’s Choice Awards, and Academy Awards.  The film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2011 for its significant display of culture, history, and aesthetics.

12 million copies sold, Forrest Gump‘s soundtrack featured a series of classic music hits, its most well-loved being Elvis’s “Hound Dog” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect“.

3. Purple Rain (1984)

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A quasi-autobiography of singer and lead actor Prince, Purple Rain was primarily developed in order to showcase his many talents as “The Kid”, the troubled frontman of the band, The Revolution.  The film itself is undeniably bumpy, but it was a commercial success due to its charming star and its classic songs.

Purple Rain‘s album as a whole has gone on to become a hit, but the favored tracks are “When Doves Cry” (my personal favorite) and “Let’s Go Crazy“.

2. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

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Saturday Night Fever is based on an article from New York magazine back in 1976.  Although the article was later revealed to be complete and merely the writer’s perception of the Brooklyn disco scene at the time, Saturday Night Fever was a huge success and contributed to the rise in popularity with disco music around the world.  Saturday Night Fever was also selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

The soundtrack itself is actually most well-known for its original tracks by the Bee Gees, the most notable being “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep is Your Love“, but it also features a huge chunk of songs that were prime hits from the actual disco era that I grew up listening to with my dad (“Disco Inferno” is my favorite).

1. The Bodyguard (1992)

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Whitney Houston takes another spot on the list, and in her acting debut, no less, with The Bodyguard.  A romantic thriller that can be accurately termed as melodramatic and cheesy, the film itself received seven nominations at the Golden Raspberry Awards, including snagging a nomination for Worst Picture.  And yet, even with its blight against film, The Bodyguard‘s soundtrack was nominated for four Grammy Awards, with two of its songs grabbing nominations for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

At 17 million copies sold, The Bodyguard stands at the highest-grossing movie soundtrack of all-time, featuring a song that you probably know all too well:  “I Will Always Love You“.  The song became the best-selling single by a woman in music history, and lead to Whitney’s long and successful career, including being named the most awarded female act of all time in the 2009 Guinness World Records, before she passed away in 2012.

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