A movie soundtrack in the higher reaches of the Official Albums Chart is a rare sighting these days – just seven in the last 20 years have reached Number 1.
The rules regarding chart eligibility for soundtracks have evolved over the course of the Official Albums Chart’s 60-year history. While the chart used to include albums by ‘Various Artists’ - encompassing soundtracks and compilations, since 1989 a soundtrack is eligible if it’s listed with a single artist credit (for example, ‘Original Cast Recording’), or if there’s a common thread between the songs pulled together for one ‘project’ and usually performed by members of the cast.
Albums which feature a collection of previously available songs licensed in to soundtrack and film and with no common artistic link, for example the Fifty Shades soundtracks, qualify for the Official Soundtrack Albums Chart.
Back in the 50s and 60s, soundtracks were a regular occurrence at the top of the chart: the second album to ever top the Official Albums Chart was the soundtrack to Oklahoma!, while the accompanying music to South Pacific spent 70 weeks at the top at various points from 1958–1960 – and you thought Drake's One Dance had a long reign at Number 1!
As the soundtrack to the Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron musical The Greatest Showman smashes into this week's Top 5, we look back at some of the huge movie albums that made themselves at home in the Official Albums Chart.
La La Land (2017)
Our most recent chart-topping soundtrack comes from the Oscar-winning musical La La Land, which landed Number 1 in February last year and features all the numbers from the movie, including performances from the film's lead stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, amid the major orchestral moments from the film's score. It won a slew of awards, including Best Song for duet City of Stars at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, and has shifted 147,000 in the UK.
A little less theatrical, maybe, but no less successful, this soundtrack from the fun animated adventure was helped along by a smash hit lead single and Grammy winner Can't Stop The Feeling!, by Justin Timberlake. Featuring songs from the movie's cast — including Justin, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani and Zooey Deschanel – and a new track from Ariana Grande, the Trolls cast recording went Top 5 in March 2017, spent 37 weeks in the Top 40 and has a combined sales tally of 288,000.
If it's a choice between a bad hair day, and a troll setting up camp on your shoulder and refusing to budge, we'd take the bad hair day every time. Justin, not so much.
Soundtracking Disney's blockbuster story of a strong-willed daughter of the chief of a Polynesian village, Moana features songs in English, Samoan, Tokelauan, and Tuvalu. Performers include the movie's cast – with lead Auliʻi Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, and Nicole Scherzinger among them – plus Alessia Cara and Jordan Fisher. It's main theme How Far I'll Go was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The Moana soundtrack has shifted 249,000 in the UK and spent six weeks in the Top 10, three of those at its chart peak Number 7.
Les Miserables (2013)
The original cast recording of the hit musical-turned-blockbuster spent four non-consecutive weeks at Number 1 in Jan-Feb 2013. The album, which includes vocals from Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried, won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song for Suddenly. To date, the collection has shifted a not-too-shabby 581,000 units.
iLL Manors - Plan B (2012)
After the success of his debut album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, Plan B turned his attention to film, writing and directing 2012’s iLL Manors. Dubbed a “hip hop musical for the twenty-first century”, the accompanying album included collaborations with Labrinth, Kano and poet John Cooper Clarke - and was even shortlisted for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize.
Glee: The Music - Season 1 Vol. 1 (2010)
Even rarer than a film soundtrack reaching Number 1 is one from a TV show. Musical comedy-drama Glee was a global phenomenon when it launched in 2009, and its accompanying soundtracks of covers that were just the right side of cheesy were hugely popular - seven of them reached the Top 10 in the UK.
The first was the only one to reach the top spot, boosted by the success of what became Glee's unofficial theme song, a cover of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. Its UK sales to date stand at 497,000.
Iron Man 2 - AD/DC (2010)
The soundtrack for the Iron Man sequel was essentially a AC/DC hits collection, made up of fifteen songs from ten of their albums, spanning both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras of the band. The album was a massive success across the world, hitting Number 1 in 11 countries, including the UK.
Titanic - James Horner (1998)
Primarily made up of the film’s music composed by James Horner, the epic Titanic soundtrack topped the charts across the world, including three non-consecutive weeks at the UK summit in Feb-March 1998. Sales of the album were driven by its chart-topping theme song My Heart Will Go On, performed by Celine Dion and co-produced by Horner. It's sales to date stand at a whopping 1.02 million.
Celine was pleased that she missed the boat on this occasion.
Evita - Madonna (1996)
Helmed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Parker, Evita and its music was a big change both visually and vocally for its leading lady Madonna.
The collection reached Number 1 in the UK 13 weeks after its release and earned Madonna another three Top 10 singles: You Must Love Me, Another Suitcase in Another Hall and, of course, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. At the time of writing the soundtrack has sold 733,000. Look back at Madonna's complete Official UK Chart history.
The Commitments (1991)
The smash hit movie of the bestselling novel – which is now a popular musical – told the story of an ambitious, fractious Dublin soul band and briefly made global stars of its cast thanks to this collection of classic covers of songs by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Al Green. It spent 51 weeks in the Top 40 on its first run in 1991, peaking at 4, before returning in 1994 and cracking the Top 10 once more.
Purple Rain — Prince and the Revolution (1984)
Widely regarded as Prince's masterpiece, this largely self-penned soundtrack to his movie reached Number 7 upon original release, before hitting a new chart peak of 4 after the star's death in 2016. Featuring the huge singles When Doves Cry, Let's Go Crazy, and the iconic title track, Purple Rain is certified multi-platinum in the UK.
The music from the teen musical-drama, which followed a group of students at New York’s High School of Performing Arts, was produced by Michael Gore, though apparently the filmmakers initially wanted Giorgio Moroder for the project.
The recording of the famous title track performed by Irene Cara, Gore previously said, was a painstaking process - though given it and its parent album reached Number 1, we’d say the hard work more than paid off.
Grease was the word across the globe in the summer of ‘78, and the movie’s soundtrack was a Number 1 smash just about everywhere, including a whopping 13 weeks in the UK, where it is one of the 60 biggest selling albums of all time. The collection spawned two chart-topping singles, You’re The One That I Want and Summer Nights, while the title track by Franki Valli (and written by Barry Gibb, no less) reached Number 3.
Saturday Night Fever (1978)
Largely made of music written and performed by the Bee Gees, including Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack epitomised the disco phenomenon of the ‘70s, logging 18 weeks at Number 1 on the Official UK Albums Chart. What’s more, it’s one of just three soundtracks to be awarded a Grammy for Album of the Year, along with The Bodyguard and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.