20 Of The Greatest Ever Coming-Of-Age Movie Soundtracks

You can’t beat a good coming-of-age movie for nostalgia and a reminder what it’s like to be young and carefree. The best ones have a killer soundtrack too, because music is such an important part of everyone’s young life. Inspired by the brilliant soundtrack of new movie Everybody Wants Some, we look at some of the greatest marriages of music and film.

1
Everybody Wants Some

Everybody Wants Some

Everybody Wants Some: Set in 1980, this new film from ‘Boyhood’ director Richard Linklater follows college freshman Jake in his first few days living with his college baseball team. It’s described as the ‘spiritual sequel’ to 1976-set ‘Dazed And Confused’, and that holds true in an exceptional soundtrack featuring Blondie, The Knack, Donna Summer, Sugarhill Gang and many more.

2
Romeo + Juliet

Romeo + Juliet

Romeo + Juliet: Baz Luhrmann’s Venice Beach-based take on Shakespeare’s most cherished and well-known tragic love story used a modern soundtrack, too; here, the warring Montagues and Capulets spend their time listening to Radiohead (‘Talk Show Host’, ‘Exit Music For A Film’), Garbage (‘#1 Crush’) and The Butthole Surfers’ ‘(Whatever) I Had A Dream’.

3
Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions: The final scene of the teen equivalent to Dangerous Liasons is iconic thanks to its use of The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, but there’s other highlights to be found on Cruel Intentions’ soundtrack, too, including Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’ and Blur’s ‘Coffee + TV’.

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4
Stand By Me

Stand By Me

Stand By Me: Rob Reiner’s beautiful, bittersweet coming-of-age tale had a killer soundtrack to boot, cherry-picking some of the finest songs of the 1950s including ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, ‘Lollipop’ and, best and most famously of all, Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’. Timeless.

5
10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You: An early star-making vehicle for the late, great Heath Ledger, 10 Things I Hate About You re-worked Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew with the help of a soundtrack that features Barenaked Ladies, Madness, The Cardigans and Letters To Cleo, who also made a cameo in the film. Perfectly punky and youthful. Altogether now: “I waaaant youuu to want me…”

6
Ghost World

Ghost World

Ghost World: An adaptation of David Clowes’ graphic novel starring Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch, Ghost World’s excellent soundtrack eschewed recognisable hits in favour of something more eclectic and immersive, making use of Bollywood rock’n’roll (‘Jaan Pehechan Ho’) and old, dusty US blues (the 1930s song ‘Devil Got My Woman’, by Skip James).

7
Clueless

Clueless

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8
The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club: A classic soundtrack that can be boiled down to just one song: Simple Minds’ classic, air-punching anthem ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’, which became a Number One smash. Originally written by producer Keith Forsey for the film, both Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol turned down the chance to record the track before a reluctant Jim Kerr and co agreed to take a punt.

9
Dazed And Confused

Dazed And Confused: This 1993 coming-of-age comedy had an ensemble cast of young actors who’d later become massive stars, from McConaughey, to Ben Affleck and beyond, and the soundtrack’s no less impressive, too: Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, The Runaways, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath all feature.

10
Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles: Once again, the greatest teen-comedy filmmaker of all time – John Hughes – proved his brilliance both behind a camera and for curating a brilliant soundtrack, with Sixteen Candles featuring music by AC/DC, The Specials, Patti Smith, Wham! and lots, lots more.

11
American Graffiti

American Graffiti

American Graffiti: George Lucas’ pre-Star Wars masterpiece was a powerful exploration of rock ‘n’ roll culture, telling the story of a group of teenagers across one dramatic night. It made masterful use of music by the likes of Bill Haley And The Comets, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino for ultimate authenticity.

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12
Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko: Gary Jules’ slow, haunting and piano-led take on Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ became a huge success off the back of creepy sci-fi classic Donnie Darko – it even bagged the Christmas Number One slot in 2003. The 1980s melancholy extended way beyond that chart-topper though, on a OST whose haunting sounds were critical to the movie’s magnificence.

13
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower: Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the original novel and directed the recent film adaptation of …Wallflower, put pop music at the centre of his coming-of-age tale: the story of a group of teens who swap stories and share experiences to a soundtrack of obscure Smiths b-sides and songs by Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth and David Bowie.

14
Grease

Grease

Grease: Anyone who’s ever been to a wedding reception disco will be familiar with Grease’s biggest hits: a soundtrack that spawned a handful of mega-selling, instantly iconic hits including ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘You’re The One That I Want’. Their bobbing cheeriness balanced the darker edges of this lusty teen-movie classic.

15
Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers: Critics were divided over Harmony Korine’s gaudy crime-comedy caper, unable to decide whether it was hipster hell or cult classic. But its soundtrack hit the right spot, with a score that was composed by Cliff Martinez, who’s other credits include Drive and Solaris, and EDM maestro Skrillex.

16
Mean Girls

Mean Girls

Mean Girls: The greatest teen-based comedy of the 21st century, with its fixation on the cliques and funny-but-cruel bitchiness of your average middle American high school, was bolstered by a soundtrack that included such bangers as Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ and Blondie’s ‘One Way Or Another’.

17
Pretty In Pink

Pretty In Pink: An indie belter, here, as director John Hughes calls on New Order, The Smiths, INXS and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark for some alternative gold – but it’s the Psychedelic Furs’ title track, re-recorded specifically for the film, that steals the show.

18
Juno

Juno

Juno: Lead actress Ellen Page was responsible for the heavy use of the music of The Moldy Peaches and their singer Kimya Dawson in the film, after telling director Jason Reitman that she thought that was what her character would mainly listen to. The Kinks, Mott The Hoople and Velvet Underground also all star on the soundtrack.

19
Can’t Hardly Wait

Can’t Hardly Wait: Behold, the pop-punk renaissance of the late 1990s! Blink 182, Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind were all on hand for soundtrack duties on this 1998 comedy flick, which stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Seth Green. There’s other corkers on there too, though – The Replacements, Guns N’ Roses, Parliament and Run-D.M.C. also crop up.

20
Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing: Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ sugary duet ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ usually takes all the plaudits, of course, but there’s more gold to be found on Dirty Dancing’s soundtrack, too, in the shape of Frank Valli And The Four Seasons, The Shirelles, Otis Redding and The Drifters.

21
Save The Last Dance

Save The Last Dance

Save The Last Dance: Julia Stiles’ dancer Sara Johnson swaps stuffy ballet for dancing to hip hop rhythms in this 2001 flick, ditching the old composers for songs by Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and The Notorious B.I.G. instead.

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