On Monday evening, Jamie Foxx had the Internet traveling down memory lane when he posed one simple question:
“Best movie soundtracks of all time? Go…”
Folks across Twitter were instantly retweeting Jamie’s tweet with their top picks for best movie soundtracks. A lot of 90s movies made the list, including Above the Rim, The Bodyguard and New Jack City, while forever classics like Purple Rain and Super Fly also made people’s line-up.
But it seems the undisputed champion was none other than 1995’s Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. Folks praised the album so much, it started trending on Twitter and why shouldn’t it?
With hits like Brandy‘s “Sittin’ Up In My Room” and Whitney Houston‘s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” how can you not hail the album as one of cinema’s best musical achievements. The soundtrack was also a major commercial hit, spending five consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and it went 7x platinum for shipping 7 million copies in the U.S. alone. Oh, AND the soundtrack was nominated for ELEVEN Grammys.
Much time has passed since 1995 and the landscape for music and the soundtrack has drastically changed. It begs the question, do people care about the soundtrack anymore? Especially millennials?
According to the Pew Research Center, if we’re placing current millennials at early 20s to late 30s, surely many of us remember some of the pivotal soundtracks of the 90s. Whose moms or uncle didn’t play the Waiting to Exhale album around the house, and you certainly couldn’t escape The Bodyguard. Even younger millennials probably had a song from Space Jam on repeat.
But were we really old enough to dig into the albums and appreciate every track? Can we connect memories to deep cuts like Faith Evans‘ “Kissing You” on Waiting to Exhale or Paradise‘s “Hoochies Need Love Too” on Above the Rim (a mantra still needed in 2019)?
If we do have the memories, great!
But now that we’ve entered the world of streaming and the themes of movies have become more diverse, what’s our bumping soundtrack album of today?
Many soundtracks of the 90s centered around Black urban life, which resulted in some great hip hop and R&B gems.
But now that Black representation has become more varied in cinema, the music has changed as well. While a few great songs might come from a movie, are there any fully cohesive albums that represent a generation like many soundtracks in the 90s did? On top of this, are they doing nearly as many number as previous soundtracks?
One can argue the Black Panther soundtrack is in the running as cohesive album for a generation. Kendrick Lamar and his TDE label-mates pretty much led the project with original songs, and it did well with numbers, reaching number one on the Billboard 200.
Creed II‘s soundtrack also had some notable moments with mega-producer Mike Will Made-It serving as executive producer. But again, it definitely didn’t do smash 1990s soundtrack numbers.
What soundtrack can us millennials live and die by today?
Maybe our soundtrack anthems have moved from the big screen to the small screen, considering shows like Insecure are always being praised for shining light on underground, Internet-friendly artists. Even shows like Luke Cage or Black Lightning will catch you off guard with their bumping music.
When it comes to cinema, however, hopefully with the innovative and eclectic films coming out, producers can make more heaven-made music matches like they did with Babyface and Waiting to Exhale or Kendrick Lamar and Black Panther. Ten years from now when Jamie asks what’s the best music soundtrack again, it’d be great to have that equal balance of 90s gems and 2010s anthems to stay on repeat.