With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, Pitchfork has just published its editors’ list of the 50 best movie soundtracks ever. Purple Rain is on the list, of course…at number two.
“Purple Rain is Prince in his prime, at his peak, at his most audacious,” writes Jayson Greene. “It is Prince at his most sensual, his most open and pleading. It is, then, by logical extension, some of the most powerful popular music of the last century, and some of the best we will ever get.”
Just ahead of the Purple Rain soundtrack, Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly was deemed the number one soundtrack of all time despite the 1972 movie’s low budget and a screenplay Pitchfork described as a “silly mess.”
Another Minnesota artist landed on the list with two prominent contributions to #42: the Singles soundtrack, which spotlighted the Seattle scene in the early grunge era and helped canonize the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg as that genre’s godfather. “Westerberg’s ‘na na na’ refrain is probably the one that’s been stuck in your head for the past 27 years, and deservedly so,” Matthew Schnipper wrote.
Then there’s the soundtrack to Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There (2007). The anti-biopic featured a collection of unforgettable Bob Dylan covers, landing it at #32 on Pitchfork’s list.
Not all of the soundtracks are known for pop hits. Both The Shining and Apocalypse Now make Pitchfork’s list. Other notable albums on the list include Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack, nominated for multiple Grammys and an Academy Award this year — although Lamar and his collaborator SZA won’t be there on Sunday to perform their Oscar-nominated song “All the Stars.”
Maybe you think Purple Rain should have earned the top slot, but the competition was pretty stiff: A Hard Day’s Night only made #26, just behind The Crow.