Call it a soundtrack producer's dream. One of the most vital and influential bands in modern-day music cuts a song entitled "If God Will Send His Angels" just months before you are hired to put together a soundtrack for a movie entitled City of Angels. The band is U2, and their song not only opens the City of Angels soundtrack, but it is also the anchor of a group of tracks that narrowly escapes the sappy trail that the movie blazed when it hit theaters. In all actuality, the soundtrack sounds much too dark, menacing, and legitimate to be attached to the film. Alanis Morissette assures the direction of the album when she follows U2's less-than-perky offering with "Uninvited," which is nothing if not vintage Alanis. From there on the quality drops off somewhat, but not until after Jimi Hendrix comes in with "Red House." It's still amazing to this day how the sounds of Hendrix on the guitar could be so many things all at the same time – soothing, moving, eerie, and untouchable.
Director Roman Polanski's film The Pianist is based on the memoirs of Polish classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman about his harrowing experiences under the Nazi occupation of Warsaw during World War II. The soundtrack album consists almost entirely of Chopin piano pieces, most of them played by Janusz Olejniczak. Most of those, in turn, are solo performances, although Olejniczak is joined by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Tadeusz Strugala, for Grand Polonaise for Piano and Orchestra. The sole non-Chopin track is the excerpt from Wojciech Kilar's score, "Moving to the Ghetto October 31, 1940," a klezmer-like piece running only 1:45 in which Hanna Wolczedska plays clarinet, accompanied by the Warsaw Philharmonic. Appropriately, the album ends with an actual recording by Szpilman of the Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4.
There are a few movie and soundtrack pairings that represent the wild 1980s. None more so than Top Gun (Footloose and Pretty in Pink are also strong contenders.) A whirlwind romance set in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War, Top Gun featured wild aerial acrobatics, steamy sexual tension, and macho competition. And the soundtrack had the songs to match. Featuring the huge hits "Danger Zone," "Take My Breath Away," as well as "Playing with the Boys," "Mighty Wings," and a handful of classic soul tracks, the Top Gun soundtrack may be the perfect example of the outrageous '80s. This version expands on the original, including a number of songs not featured on the initial release, such as "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "Great Balls of Fire" .