Either subtly or overtly, R&B and Soul music have played a big part in the plots and themes of lots of films over the years, particularly romantic movies. So what makes for a great film soundtrack? Well, obviously it's all about the songs. A great OST (Original Sound Track) consists of quality, memorable tunes that stay with you long after a movie has ended. In fact, the best soundtracks are cohesive units that can be enjoyed even without the benefit of seeing the film they're attached to. Although most great soundtracks consists primarily of new music (particularly ones created during the urban movie golden age of the 1990s), with Prince's Purple Rain being the prime example, sometimes a compilation of classics can also hit the ear's sweet spot, i.e. the soundtrack for the '60s period piece "Dead Presidents." For the About R&B/Soul picks for the best R&B/Soul soundtracks ever, have a look below.
Date released: June 1984. Noteworthy songs: "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy" and the title track.
This innovative, groundbreaking chart-topping soundtrack, which generated five hit singles, was written, produced, arranged and performed by Prince and his band, The Revolution. It also set the gold standard for music integration into films, as many of the songs were performed onstage by the band during the movie.
Date released: November 1995. Noteworthy songs: "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," by Whitney Houston
; "Sittin' Up in My Room," by Brandy
; and "Not Gon' Cry," by Mary J. Blige
This legendary soundtrack, which was written and produced almost entirely by Babyface, received a total of eleven Grammys and won one, for Best R&B Song for "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" in 1997.
Date released: July 1971. Noteworthy songs: the title track, "Theme from Shaft."
This classic Soul album consists mainly of instrumentals composed by Issac Hayes, but also features Ike's vocals on three songs: "Soulsville," "Do Your Thing" and "Theme from Shaft."
Date released: July 1972. Noteworthy songs: "Pusherman," "Freddie's Dead," the title track.
This classic soundtrack doubled as the third studio album by R&B/Soul artist Curtis Mayfield, since he wrote and composed all nine tracks. At the time of it's release, it became one of the rare releases to earn more in revenue than the film it's based on.
Date released: October 1999. Noteworthy songs: "Let's Not Play the Game" by Maxwell
; and "The Best Man I Can Be," by Case, Ginuwine
, RL and Tyrese
This soundtrack, which also features a few hip-hop artists, most notably The Roots, is just like the film the music's based on: smart, energetic, romantic and successful.
Date released: March 1997. Noteworthy songs: "Hopeless," by Dionne Farris and "The Sweetest Thing," by Lauryn Hill
and the Refugee Camp All-Stars."
This soundtrack, which features Maxwell
, Xscape, The Brand New Heavies
and Groove Theory, among other Jazz and R&B/Soul artists, was heavily featured in the film, which stars Lorenz Tate and Nia Long as bohemian poetry lovers turned romantic couple.
Date released: June 1992. Noteworthy songs: "Give U My Heart," by Babyface (feat. Toni Braxton) and "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men
The soundtrack for this Eddie Murphy romantic comedy reached the number one spot on the Billboard R&B Albums chart and top five on the pop albums chart thanks to a strong collection of tunes by some of the more well-known mainstream R&B artists of the 1990s, including Aaron Hall and Johnny Gill
Date released: September 1997. Noteworthy songs: "We're Not Making Love No More," by Dru Hill; "What About Us," by Total; and "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men
This comedy-drama film soundtrack was a huge success, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard pop albums chart and No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It went on to sell over two million copies, partially thanks to the four hit singles released.
Date released: February 1973. Noteworthy songs: "The Boss," by James Brown
This funky 11-song collection was recorded for a 1970s blaxploitation film and is credited to James Brown, although his band, The JBs and singer Lyn Collins also perform on a handful of tracks.
Date released: September 1996. Noteworthy songs: the title track, "I Wanna Get Next to You;" and "I'm Going Down;" all by Rose Royce.
This soundtrack was also the debut album by R&B/Funk band Rose Royce. The noteworthy songs listed above have been covered by various artists over the decades, and the originals are still heard on numerous oldies radio stations.