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."

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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?

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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.

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Some Kind Of Wonderful -- almost as good as Pretty In Pink


Singles, I loved that soundtrack and movie...Wait I still do.


The Blade soundtrack.


I'd also say "Urgh! A Music War", but I'd ALWAYS say that one. And yeah, "Repo Man" bigtime.

Also, goddamn I feel old.


Top Gun and Requiem for a Dream should probably get a mention. Good call on Repo Man and Menace.  

Ryan Clark
Ryan Clark

I think the omission of the Judgement Night soundtrack from this list is glaring.  


I mentioned it on the best summer soundtracks list a few weeks back but I was on the fence about it being a generation-definer. Still a kick-ass album. 

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