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7 Best Film Soundtracks of 2023

Last year was an exciting time for film! Here’s a recap of 2023’s best soundtracks.

Miles Morales in Across the Spider-Verse
Image: Sony

2024 is off to a roaring start, and we’re approaching the end of the awards season.

With the Emmys and Golden Globes behind us and the GRAMMYs coming up soon, we’ve been extra conscious of all the amazing media we saw last year.

As a special glance-back, here are our top picks for film soundtracks that defined 2023.

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse. Image representing soundtrack
Credit: Sony

Release Date: June 2, 2023

Part 2 of the animated Spider-Verse trilogy, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse continues the story of Miles Morales as he navigates his recently acquired role as New York City’s only hometown hero. His newest nemesis, the Spot, is on a quest to unravel Spider-Man’s life. Miles joins up with some old and new friends to save his reality—and the people most important to him.

The first installment of the films, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swept box offices off their feet and is now the recipient of several awards, including Best Animated Feature Film at the 2019 Oscars. The soundtrack to the film featured artists such as Post Malone, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne.

Across the Spider-Verse showcases a similar vibe with a soundtrack focused mostly on hip-hop and funky beats curated toward the taste of Miles Morales.

The film was nominated for numerous awards and won Best Animated Film at the Critics Choice Awards. The instrumental score for the film was astounding as well, snagging the Best Original Score title at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards.

hailee steinfeld at the spider-man: across the spider-verse premiere. image represents soundtrack
Hailee Steinfeld, voice of Gwen Stacy, at Across the Spider-Verse premiere. Credit: Shutterstock/Tinseltown

The soundtrack for Across the Spider-Verse features popular artist Metro Boomin, who co-produced the album. Uniquely, many songs on the soundtrack album contain snippets of character dialogue from the film.

For Your Playlist: “Mona Lisa” by Dominic Fike

2. Barbie

Barbie played by Margot Robbie, surrounded by Ken dolls as everyone dances. Image represents soundtrack for the film
Credit: Warner Bros.

Release Date: July 21, 2023

Barbie took the marketing world by storm last year. Ken posters everywhere, a fan-crafted pink dress code for viewing the film…everyone’s heard of Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed masterpiece.

For Barbie, every day is the best day ever—at least, until she starts malfunctioning. She and Ken travel to The Real World, where chaos breaks loose. Soon, BarbieLand is in danger of a total takeover, so Barbie teams up with two humans to restore everything.

The Barbie soundtrack is rich with artists—Tame Impala, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, and Lizzo, just to name a few.

The film was nominated for four Critics Choice Awards and won Best Song for Ryan Gosling’s unflinching performance of “I’m Just Ken” (we know it was stuck in your head at some point).

For a lot of people, Barbie‘s soundtrack was on repeat this past summer. TikTok exploded with dance trends and audio from the movie. The soundtrack features a broad range of genres; everything from hyperpop to emotional piano ballads is packed into the soundtrack. There’s something for every Barbie!

For Your Playlist: “What Was I Made For” by Billie Eilish

3. Priscilla

Priscilla and Elvis Presley on their wedding day. Image represents soundtrack for the film
Credit: A24

Release Date: October 27, 2023

This striking tribute to Priscilla Presley features the dynamic duo of Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi (who we will revisit in Saltburn, don’t you worry). The film depicts Priscilla Beaulieu’s various encounters and eventual relationship with famous rock-n-roll star, Elvis Presley.

Though the film was met with various levels of interpretation and opinion, the soundtrack is beyond noteworthy. Fellow film lovers know that A24 is usually quite dependable in the soundtrack department, and Priscilla is no exception.

Various tracks are worth mentioning. The film opens with Alice Coltrane’s “Going Home,” a moving piece full of strings and jazzy chords. Priscilla also features the single version of “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” by The Righteous Brothers, and “Forever” by The Little Dippers. It’s heaven for fellow 60s fans.

Priscilla ends with Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” tying everything together.

I knew early on in the script that we had to have that song at the end, and I was so happy that Dolly let us use it because I don’t know what we would’ve used in its place. That song is filled with so much pain and love and heartache, and it expresses exactly what Priscilla felt at that moment in time.

Sophia Coppola, Vogue interview

Another note: Priscilla makes excellent use of silence, as well as music. All film lovers know that sometimes silence will emphasize an emotion better than any song ever will.

For Your Playlist: “Baby, I Love You” by Ramones

4. The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow lie together in a peaceful field. Image represents soundtrack for the film
Credit: Lionsgate

Release Date: November 17, 2023

This thrilling prequel to The Hunger Games follows Coriolanus Snow, a former rich-kid from the Capitol and eventual dictator of Panem. When Lucy Gray Baird is chosen for the 10th Annual Hunger Games, Coriolanus is assigned by the Academy to mentor her.

The soundtrack takes on a more folksy, upbeat energy than previous Hunger Games films. Lucy Gray is part of the Covey, a musically gifted group of nomads, and they have a distinctly fun, “country” style. I mean, just listen to “Nothing You Can Take From Me (Boot-Stompin’ Version).” The title says it all.

The album for the film contains songs “from and inspired by” the movie. Some inclusions are “Winter’s Come and Gone” by Charles Wesley Godwin and “Burn Me Once” by Bella White.

“Pure As The Driven Snow,” sung by Lucy Gray (Rachel Zegler), has seen countless covers across social media platforms.

@reganmckeehan

Replying to @McKayla (Taylor’s version) thank you for all the love on my lucy gray cover 🥹 here’s another by popular demand💐✨#lucygraybaird #pureasthedrivensnow #cover #theballadofsongbirdsandsnakes #tbosas #thg

♬ original sound – regan mckeehan 🙂

This film also contains a haunting acoustic version of “The Hanging Tree,” first introduced to viewers by Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 in 2014.

For Your Playlist: “Can’t Catch Me Now” by Olivia Rodrigo

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The Guardians of the Galaxy march into battle.
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Release Date: May 5, 2023

Two things you can count on in a Guardians of the Galaxy film. One: heroes strutting past an explosion in slow motion. Two: a bangin’ soundtrack.

This third addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy film series depicts a still-grieving Peter Quill (spoiler alert if you somehow haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War yet — he misses Gamora) and the Guardians as they fight to save one of their friends. It’s a little grittier than what we’ve seen from Marvel in a while, and the storyline pulls hard on the heartstrings.

As always, the soundtrack matches Peter’s personal tastes, opting for retro classics and the occasional space battle head-banger.

The movie opens with a subdued, acoustic version of Radiohead’s “Creep” and ends with “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine. It’s not very often we see a 2000s hit in a Marvel film, but it creates the closure-scene vibes we didn’t know we needed.

Watch until the end credit scene and you might even hear a throwback song from the first Guardians film!

For Your Playlist: “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by Beastie Boys

6. Saltburn

Oliver in front of his friend's mansion. image represents soundtrack for the film
Credit: Amazon MGM Studios

Release Date: November 17, 2023

Hmm, how to describe Saltburn? A little dark comedy, partly a psychological thriller, sort of eccentric and absurd. Basically, Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), a not-so-popular student at Oxford University, becomes fixated on Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), a wealthy and popular student. Felix invites Oliver to spend the summer at his family’s enormous estate. The rest is, uh…well, you’d better see for yourself.

(For those of you who have seen Jacob Elordi in that one scene, you know what I’m talking about.)

The film takes place mostly in 2007, and a lot of the soundtrack was drawn from albums of that period. “No Cars Go” by Arcade Fire plays in the film, as well as “Hang Me Up to Dry” by Cold War Kids. Oh, and “This Modern Love” by Bloc Party.

For the largely provocative film Saltburn is, there sure are a lot of angsty indie songs in it.

“The music really is key to this film. And Emerald is a genius. Most of the music was her choice. The music she’s chosen is very specifically… not throwaway, but the [artists] might have only have had a handful of hits at that time. They aren’t necessarily artists that are around now. But they meant something then.”

Music supervisor Kirsten Lane, British GQ interview

In addition to all the 2000s songs, Saltburn contains a wonderful instrumental score composed by Anthony Willis and performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra.

“Murder on the Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a 2001 disco-revival hit, plays at the end of the film. You’ve probably heard it in the background of OOTDs, “get ready with me” videos, and other popular TikTok trends. For a while, I couldn’t escape it.

For Your Playlist: “Time to Pretend” by MGMT

7. Wonka

Timothee Chalamet as Willy Wonka, posing in his chocolate store.
Credit: Warner Bros.

Release Date: December 15, 2023

Wonka, starring Timothée Chalamet and Calah Lane, dives into the humble beginnings of Willy Wonka and his passion for sharing chocolate with the world. We’ve seen the top hat passed from Gene Wilder to Johnny Depp, and now Timothée brings the character to life in a new, vibrant way.

The film is a musical, much like its two predecessors, but the soundtrack contains fresh, catchy numbers that perfectly encapsulate the campy, upbeat energy of the movie.

And yes, that’s really Timothée Chalamet singing. What can’t this guy do?

Also, you’d think that TikTok couldn’t possibly create a dance trend from Willy Wonka, but you’d be wrong. “You’ve Never Had Chocolate Like This (Hoverchocs)” is still circulating, a month after its release.

Timothée Chalamet also ends the film singing “Pure Imagination,” the classic theme from the 1971 debut of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It’s a bittersweet yet uplifting tribute to Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Wonka.

The film is also set to a charming and whimsical instrumental score composed by Joby Talbot. Additionally, Wonka is Chalamet’s singing debut in film, and he was nominated for a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award for his performance.

For Your Playlist: “A World of Your Own” by Timothée Chalamet & the Cast of Wonka

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