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Some ‘Honorable Mention’ Soundtracks That Endure

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Some may even be more memorable than the movies they accompany

 

“Barbershop: The Next Cut” hit theaters last Friday (April 15, 2016), giving moviegoers a unique blend of the old and the new. This third installment of the popular comedy franchise pairs cast mainstays like Cedric the Entertainer and Ice Cube with newcomers like Nicki Minaj and Tyga.

And the movie’s soundtrack follows suit, combining hits from music icons like Earth, Wind & Fire and James Brown with cuts from current artists like Aloe Blacc and Leela James.

Here’s a look at 25 soundtracks—15 standouts were featured in the Thursday, April 21, 2016, print edition of the Birmingham Times—worthy of an honorable mention.

Black Caesar (1973)

James Brown, with heavy input from bandleader Fred Wesley, wrote and performed his first score and soundtrack to this blaxploitation classic of the same name starring the man who helped defined the genre—Fred Williamson. This remake of the 1931 film “Little Caesar” is about the rise of a Harlem crime lord. Among the hits on the soundtrack: “The Boss,” “Down and Out in New York City,” and “Like it Is, Like it Was.”

Claudine (1974)

Curtis Mayfield wrote and produced the film’s score and soundtrack. Soul superstar group Gladys Knight & the Pips handled the vocals. The ’70s film brought together James Earl Jones, Diahann Carroll, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as stars, and its theme song, “On & On,” was a number-five hit for Knight & the Pips in 1974.

Sparkle (1976)

The soundtrack was a collaboration of two legends: Aretha Franklin—who sang every song—and Curtis Mayfield, who composed and produced. The album was certified gold and hit the top of the Billboard R&B chart. Franklin’s classic single “Something He Can Feel” was later covered by 1990s R&B group En Vogue.

The Wiz (1978)

This original score by music legend Quincy Jones featured “Ease on Down the Road” and other timeless songs performed by the greats—Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Lena Horne.

Wild Style (1983)

The original soundtrack is considered by many to be a key record of early-’80s hip-hop. Highly regarded albums—“Illmatic” by Nas, “Midnight Marauders” by A Tribe Called Quest, “Black Sunday” by Cypress Hill, and “Resurrection” by Common—feature samples from the film, which also was named one of the top 10 rock and roll movies of all time by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Beat Street (1984)

This film about hip-hop culture, including graffiti and breakdancing, was produced by Harry Belafonte, better known for acting and Calypso singing. The two-volume soundtrack features hip-hop pioneers like Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious 5, Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force, and the Treacherous Three, featuring beatbox pioneer Doug E. Fresh.

Krush Groove (1985)

The film fictionalizes the story of Def Jam Records and its co-founder, Russell Simmons (named Russell Walker in the film and played by Blair Underwood). The soundtrack features an array of ’80s music stars, including LL Cool J, Sheila E, and the Fat Boys, as well as punk band Blondie’s lead singer and rapper, Debbie Harry.

Jungle Fever (1991)

Spike Lee got Stevie Wonder to record the entire soundtrack—11 original tunes—including “These Three Words” and the title track.

The Five Heartbeats (1991)

Robert Townsend’s film (co-written by Keenan Ivory Wayans) followed the lives of a fictional doo-wop group modeled on acts like the Dells and the Four Tops. The soundtrack features songs performed by the fictional group, tracks by R&B groups the Dells and After 7, and one piece by gospel great Andre Crouch.

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

The landmark Academy Award–nominated debut by director John Singleton became a cultural classic for its look at the lives of several characters in South Central Los Angeles. Movie co-star Ice Cube—who was a member of N.W.A. and a soundtrack contributor—gave the disc incredible street cred. Produced by Stanley Clarke, the soundtrack also included contributions from music legend Quincy Jones, R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné!, and rapper Too Short.

Boomerang (1992)

Some have argued that this soundtrack was better than the film. The movie starred Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, and Halle Berry. The soundtrack featured equal star power with Babyface, Toni Braxton, Aaron Hall, Keith Washington, Boyz II Men, Johnny Gill, and a Tribe Called Quest. “End of the Road,” which Boyz II Men recorded for the film is considered one of the most successful songs of all time. It was the number one single of 1992 and ranked by Billboard as the 6th most successful song of the 1990s.

The Bodyguard (1992)

Three years before starring in “Waiting to Exhale,” Whitney made her acting debut in this film, opposite Kevin Costner. The soundtrack made Houston the first musician to sell 1 million copies in a single week. She sang most of the tracks, including a remake of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” in addition to “I Have Nothing” and the classic “I Will Always Love You.”

Juice (1992)

This film about four young men growing up in Harlem and facing struggles related to poverty, police harassment, and gang violence stars Tupac Shakur and features cameo appearances by Queen Latifah, EPMD, Special Ed, and other familiar names in the rap game. So it’s no surprise that the soundtrack showcases hip-hop heavyweights like Eric B. & Rakim (“Juice—Know the Ledge”), Big Daddy Kane (“Nuff Respect”), Salt-N-Pepa (“He’s Gamin” on Ya”), Naughty by Nature (“Uptown Anthem”), and others.

Poetic Justice (1993)

The John Singleton–directed film starred pop and hip-hop stars Janet Jackson as Justice and Tupac Shakur as her love interest, Lucky. Jackson did not perform on the soundtrack, but Tupac did, along with fellow rappers Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Nate Dogg, and R&B artists Usher, Babyface, and Tony! Toni! Toné!

What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993)

Tina Turner re-recorded many of her songs from the Ike & Tina Turner period for this album, including their first hit single “A Fool in Love” and three new tracks. The soundtrack also featured two tracks from her 1984 breakthrough solo album “Private Dancer”: “I Might Have Been Queen” and film’s Grammy Award–winning title track.

Above the Rim (1994)

The soundtrack was released by Death Row Records, a year after label founder Suge Knight bailed Tupac out of New York’s Attica prison in exchange for a recording commitment. The soundtrack included tracks by SWV, H-Town, Warren G, and Nate Dogg. The movie featured Tupac as the villain, Bishop, and actor Omar Epps as Q.

Crooklyn (1994)

Spike Lee’s autobiographical portrait of 1970s Brooklyn spawned a two-volume soundtrack that featured classic artists like the Staples Singers, Sly & the Family Stone, the Jackson 5, the Chi-Lites, Curtis Mayfield, and many more.

Space Jam (1996)

  1. Kelly’s ageless “I Believe I Can Fly” carried this soundtrack, which also included tracks from Monica, D’Angelo, Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, and the Quad City DJs.

Jackie Brown (1997)

Quentin Tarrantino’s updated blaxploitation classic starred Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson in leading roles. And the soundtrack featured “Strawberry Letter #23” by the Brothers Johnson, plus an eclectic roundup, including Johnny Cash, Minnie Riperton, Bill Withers, and Randy Crawford.

Soul Food (1997)

The soundtrack featured that era’s biggest music artists: Usher, En Vogue, Dru Hill, Boyz II Men (who sang the movie’s signature, “A Song for Mama”), Xscape, and Total. It also was also noted for the quartet group Milestone—consisting of K-Ci and JoJo of Jodeci fame and Kevon and Melvin Edmonds of After 7—all of whom came together only once for their single “I Care ’Bout You” and the movie appearance.

The Wood (1999)

The throwback film featured a soundtrack with tunes by Biz Markie, D-Nice, Keith Sweat, Teddy Riley, and Eric B. & Rakim. It also included soul classics, including a remake of “If This World Were Mine” by Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn.

Love & Basketball (2000)

This soundtrack had everything from Meshell Ndegeocello’s “Fool of Me” to Rob Base & DJ Easy Rock’s “It Takes Two.” Also on the track list: Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing,” and Roger’s auto-tune predecessor “I Wanna Be Your Man.”

Ray (2004)

This biopic, largely comprised of Ray Charles’s greatest hits, snagged Jamie Foxx a Best Actor Oscar win. And the soundtrack reignited a passion for timeless Charles hits like “I Got a Woman,” “What’d I Say,” “Hit the Road,” and “Unchain My Heart.”

Dreamgirls: Music from the Motion Picture (2006)

Most of the tunes are performed by the actors in the film, including Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Sharon Leal and Keith Robinson. The film adaptation of the musical “Dreamgirls” stands out because of Hudson’s show-stopping “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” which covers the Jennifer Holiday version from the musical. By the way, Hudson also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Effie White.

Cadillac Records (2008)

It’s hard to portray the story of the rise of renowned blues label Chess Records without a decent soundtrack. Beyoncé Knowles co-starred and recorded five songs, including a cover version of Etta James’s “At Last.” The soundtrack also included contributions from a broad range of entertainers: Mos Def, Jeffrey Wright, Columbus Short, and Eamonn Walker, as well as Raphael Saadiq, Solange Knowles, Mary Mary, Nas, Buddy Guy, and even Elvis Presley.

Sources: Madamnoire.com; Thegrio.com. filmgordon.wordpress.com; theboombox.com; en.wikipedia.org.

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