The ’90s were quite the decade for soundtracks, let’s be honest here. Seemingly almost every month, there was some big budget film also tethered to a soundtrack with some of the biggest artists in the world – or ones that would become famous later. Some were even culturally impactful to a large degree – for example, the Judgment Night soundtrack, whose hip-hop + rock/metal collaboration efforts were instrumental in the emergence of nu-metal a year later. There’s also 1992’s Singles, which brought together some of grunge’s biggest acts in a movie set in Seattle. Also, directed by the immortal Cameron Crowe.
One of the most notable ones, though, was 1994’s The Crow. The movie, which starred the late Brandon Lee, was a commercial and critical success in its own right. But the soundtrack, which featured a mix of covers and originals from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, Pantera, The Cure, and many more, ended up being a major draw.
The soundtrack managed to bring together some of the more notable bands of the era that also fit the harsh, superhero aesthetic of the film. And rest assured, they all have a purpose. Stone Temple Pilots, who were at the time prepping their sophomore album Purple, offered up “Big Empty”. The first new song the band dropped since their debut, it ended up being one of the most popular songs of the year. You also had Nine Inch Nails covering Joy Division’s “Dead Souls”, releasing just as The Downward Spiral was becoming industrial’s biggest mainstream statement. A lot of the soundtrack’s success was indeed smart timing.
Plenty of notable tracks abound elsewhere, too. Helmet’s “Milquetoast” inclusion was also a vehicle for the band’s third record, Betty, which arrived later in the year. One of the underrated band’s biggest hits, the technically gifted drumming of John Stanier undoubtedly influenced a legion of drummers who arrived after, and the band’s workmanlike, everyman image belied the avant-garde alternative metal sound that they helped popularize during the decade (and beyond). Its pulsating, rhythmic nature also provided a huge influence to the nu-metal bands that were to come. Rage Against The Machine also made an appearance with the retitled “Darkness”, a demo from the band released a year before their self-titled debut album, and even the likes of The Cure, Pantera, and Rollins Band (who were all supporting successful records at the time) appeared, making for an eclectic mix that tied into the movie as well.
With over 3 million copies sold in the USA alone, it’s one of the bigger soundtracks of the decade – and actually, of all-time. And really, it’s just a great time capsule in terms of bringing together some of alternative rock, metal, and industrial’s biggest names at the time. This one’s for the misfits and outcasts.