Forrest Gump & Other "Generation-Defining" Soundtracks

The Forrest Gump soundtrack debuted on June 28, 1994, a week ahead of the film itself, which would go on to smash box-office records, win numerous awards and become one of the most beloved movies of the past 20 years. It is still endlessly quotable, emotional, and entertaining, and the soundtrack played no small part in Gump's continuing legacy.

It's a two-disc affair, spanning the title character's journey from the early '50s to the early '80s, and it runs the gamut of country, psychedelia, rock and soul. For one generation, the soundtrack was a great glimpse into the popular music that was playing while they were going through this thing called life. For younger kids at the time, it was a great primer of the last 30 years or so of music they missed.

Obviously, in 2011, the movie soundtrack is not what it used to be, but then again, we already covered that. Forrest Gump is just one example of a collection of screen songs that, through savvy (and sometimes ruthless) Hollywood marketing or audiences' enthusiastic embrace, breathes new life into that hoary old cliche "soundtrack of a generation."

American Graffiti (1973)

Before Gump and The Big Chill, this was the Baby-Boomer one-stop shop for malt-shop and hot-rod nostalgia.

Singles (1992)

This is grunge minus Nirvana, heavy on the Vedder. You fill in the blanks your damn self.

Dazed & Confused (1993)

Can you think of Foghat's "Slow Ride" without thinking of this movie? That's what we thought.

Garden State (2004)

Was there a more twee soundtrack to the last decade, or one that better ushered along the ongoing evolution of the hipster into a commercial demographic?

Friday (1995)

Kids in the suburbs loved this soundtrack. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Scarface, and a few classic soul cuts make this a winner 16 years later.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet

In many ways, this album and film was the precursor to the phenomenon of the Twilight saga a decade later.

Twilight (2008-present)

With a captive audience willing to pay whatever-the-fuck gimme-gimme for a piece of the teen vampire films, obviously the Twilight soundtracks mean a lot. Each of the three soundracks has helped break bands like Bon Iver, Muse, Iron & Wine and Florence + The Machine to teens and creepy older chicks who wouldn't know about them otherwise.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

This album is what "cool" sounded like for the latter part of the '90s.

The Crow (1994)

After grunge, the harder stuff like Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against The Machine came into vogue. This was one of the best collections of that, along with the Natural Born Killers disc the same year.

Purple Rain (1984)

A lot people actually forget this was a soundtrack to a movie, which is either a testament to the genius of Prince, or a sad deduction about the quality of the accompanying film. As far as what it did to the generation it was foisted on, we're sure it helped plenty of people conceive the babies.

The Big Chill (1983)

There is some Boomer overlap with Gump, but the big standout here is the Procol Harum cut.

Repo Man (1984)

Punk goes live with the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and Fear. No telling how many kids used this as their Punk Rock Rosetta Stone.

Menace II Society (1993)

UGK and Too $hort were the best things about this one. Let's get serious!

The Graduate (1968)

What's funny, is that looking back on the '60s, most people forget that not everyone was growing their hair long and joining communes. Some kids were having sex with older chicks and having identity crises. Lucky bastards.

Above The Rim (1994)

It has Warren G's "Regulate" on it. Sit down.

Trainspotting (1996)

This disc made being a junkie at least sound cool, even if it was deadly business. It was also one of the first exposures of modern rave and Brit-pop sounds to a greater audience.

Pretty In Pink (1986)

This one had everything: New Order, The Smith, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs...too bad "Try a Little Tenderness" didn't make it on the original disc.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Say what you will about disco, but the only thing that could knock this one out of the best-selling album of all-time spot was Thriller. That means a lot of people owned or own this one but are not owning up to it.

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