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Top 10: Summer Movie Soundtracks

From “Hakuna Matata” to “The Great Pretender,” these are the perfect sounds for summer.

summer soundtracks

Summertime is filled with BBQs, cookouts, friends, road trips, music and lots of fun. Its a time to make cherished memories and live in the moment. Summer is also time for blockbuster movies, superheroes and big name studio projects. Usually these big budget films have more composer-focused, orchestral pieces with sweeping themes songs and swelling moments. But big-time, cultural mainstays have come out during the summer with soundtracks worth the price of admission. The tunes in these movies bring back memories, create new ones and become the “soundtrack” to your summer festivities. So lets get this party started with ten of our favorite Summer Movie Soundtracks.

Honorable Mentions: “Shaft” (1971), “Men in Black” (1997), “Straight Outta Compton” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Trainspotting” (1996).

10. “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990)
dir. Spike Lee

Image from the movie "Mo' Better Blues"
Image from the movie “Mo’ Better Blues” © − All right reserved.

Let’s ease into this list with some chill vibes, a few good friends and some glasses of wine. If you’re looking for music that’s “got that swing” with some real mellow, smooth jazz tunes, “Mo’ Better Blues” has got you covered.

9. “The Lion King” (1994)
dir. Rogers Allers, Rob Minkoff

Image from the movie "The Lion King"
© 1994 Walt Disney Pictures − All right reserved.

It wouldn’t be a summertime mix if we didn’t have something for the kids (and the kids at heart). If your childhood was filled with the songs of Disney animated movies, you’re bound to know every song on this soundtrack. From “The Circle of Life” to “Hakuna Matata,” put this one on if you’re looking for some fun vibes that will most definitely turn into an epic karaoke night, transporting you back to your 10-year-old self.

8. “Easy Rider” (1969)
dir. Dennis Hopper

Image from the movie "Easy Rider" 1969
© “Easy Rider” 1969 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

If you’re looking for more bare-feet-in-the-grass type vibes, “Easy Rider” is the pick for you. Or maybe you’ve got the top down on your convertible with the wind in your hair on a road trip. This one’s good for that too! From “Born To Be Wild” to “The Weight” or Jimi Hendrix’s guitar riffs on “If Six Was Nine,” this soundtrack is peak summertime cool.

7. “Dirty Dancing” (1987)
dir. Emile Ardolino

Image from the movie "Dirty Dancing" 1987
© “Dirty Dancing” 1987 Great American Films Limited Partnership − All right reserved.

This was one epic soundtrack whose songs have stood the test of time. Each song instantly evokes scenes from the movie. Even if you’ve never seen it, you know these songs and their correlating images. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” “Hungry Eyes,” “She’s Like the Wind.” The list goes on and on, with some 60s classics thrown in for good measure. “Dirty Dancing” will take you back to those ’80s summers.

6. “Grease” (1978)
dir. Randal Kleiser

Grease 1978 521
Grease (1978) Directed by Randal Kleiser; Shown in foreground from left: Jeff Conaway, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Stockard Channing

“Grease” has got everything for your “Summer Nights” hangouts. It’s got chill vibes, splish splash water-fun vibes and even some tunes to slow down and cap the night (“Hopelessly Devoted To You”). This is another soundtrack that will amp up the crowd participation points. Nothing says summertime like high school summer romance.

5. “Purple Rain” (1984)
dir. Albert Magnoli

Image from the movie "Purple Rain" 1984
© “Purple Rain” 1984 Water − All right reserved.

One of the best movie soundtracks of all time, “Purple Rain” is so 80s. It an epic classic that can set the mood for your summer nights. From Prince’s “Let Go Crazy” to the slow ballads and dance tunes, this soundtrack will help you let your hair down and get your through those long days.

4. “The Great Gatsby” (2013)
dir. Baz Luhrmann

Image from the movie "The Great Gatsby" 2013
© “The Great Gatsby” 2013 Spectrum Films − All right reserved.

If your summer shindig is going for a more swanky, fancy vibe, Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is just the right mix. From Jay Z to Beyoncé to modern big band and even some mellow Lana Del Ray, this soundtrack will add just the right fusion with a little sophistication and some sexy vibes to your swinging party.

3. “American Graffiti” (1973)
dir. George Lucas

Image from the movie "American Graffiti" 1973
© “American Graffiti” 1973 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

This is the ultimate summer movie. A couple of high school grads hanging out, cruising before they head off to college. And its soundtrack is a trip down memory lane. With so many songs, “American Graffiti” transports listeners back to doo wop and the early days of rock ‘n’ roll with some of the biggest songs of the era. These tracks are great for all ages and will make a fun time for all.

2. “Super Fly” (1972)
dir. Gordon Parks Jr.

Image from the movie "Super Fly" 1972
© “Super Fly” 1972 Superfly Ltd. − All right reserved.

If you’re looking for the ultimate “cool,” chill summer soundtrack, look no further than “Super Fly.” Imagine hot summer nights in the city, sweat forming on your cold summer glass, Curtis Mayfield grooving out in the background. It doesn’t get much better than this.

1. “Top Gun” (1986)
dir. Tony Scott

Image from the movie "Top Gun" 1986
© “Top Gun” 1986 Paramount − All right reserved.

When you think iconic ’80s summer blockbusters, “Top Gun” is at the top of the list. And it has a blockbuster soundtrack to match. Break out the aviator sunglasses as we fly into the “Danger Zone.” From Kenny Loggins to Berlin, this one’s sure to start your summer off right.

What’s your go-to summer movie soundtrack? Drop a line in the comments below to let us know your summer musical vibe.

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