Romantic comedies are often belittled, defined only as chick-flicks. Between their wonderful plots and delightfully funny banter, rom-coms deserve a little more respect — especially since they also have strong soundtracks that are rarely recognized. With “10 Things I Hate About You” recently turning 22, it’s time to talk about its unforgettable, diverse soundtrack. To celebrate this milestone and the genre as a whole, here’s a list of romantic comedy soundtracks that deserve to be heard.
“10 Things I Hate About You”
Rewind to the ’90s with the “10 Things I Hate About You” soundtrack, and bless your ears with the indie pop, rock and hip-hop music of the era. An adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” the movie follows Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he schemes with his friend to find Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) a boyfriend, so that he can go out with her younger sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). For easy listening, play “Even Angels Fall” by Jessica Riddle or “Your Winter” by Sister Hazel. If you want to emanate Kat Stratford’s laissez-faire attitude, listen to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” Letters to Cleo’s “Cruel to Be Kind” and Semisonic’s “F.N.T.” If you want to channel your inner Bianca, listen to “I Want You To Want Me” by Letters to Cleo and “Wings of a Dove” by Madness. Or rap along to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which plays during the infamous scene at Bowie Lowenstein’s party. The soundtrack perfectly fits the mood of each character throughout the movie, and creates numerous iconic scenes that etch themselves into your memory with the play of a single song.
“She’s the Man”
Released in 2006, “She’s the Man” is a cult classic and one of the most notable rom-coms to date. Starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, the film puts a modern twist on Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night.” It tells the tale of a female protagonist who disguises herself as a man. Any fan will remember the pop track “4Ever” by the Veronicas, a typical early-2000s indie-rock song reminiscent of Avril Lavigne, full of angsty electric guitar and wailing vocals. The track is perfect for building up the audience’s anticipation during the pivotal scene in which the protagonist, Viola, has to switch between appearing as her regular self and disguising as her brother. Apart from the better-known artists featured such as The All-American Rejects, the soundtrack also featured lesser-known tracks like Chali 2na’s “International” and Flipsyde’s “Spun.” A mix of eclectic and mainstream artists at the time, the soundtrack for “She’s the Man” is timeless.
Starring Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, “Clueless” is the definitive teenage rom-com of the ’90s featuring the decade’s most notable fashion trends. An adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Emma,” the 1998 film dished out indulgent ’90s looks and music. The soundtrack to Cher’s matchmaking schemes and ultimate journey to self-discovery is one for the ages. It paints a picture of high school and all the drama that comes with it. As bright and sophisticated as Cher’s school-girl yellow plaid outfit, “Supermodel” by Jill Sobule commands respect and attention. “Kids in America” by The Muffs will make you feel as confident as Cher in her red dress and fiery Alaïa red coat.
Although the soundtrack for “Pretty in Pink” may be more popular, “Sixteen Candles” has my heart. Starring Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and Michael Schoeffling, this is one of my favorite movies. Samantha Baker’s family forgets her 16th birthday, which causes chaos perfectly captured by the soundtrack. Written and directed by John Hughes, this 1984 rom-com soundtrack includes R&B, soul, rock and new wave. To set the tone for Samantha’s sister, Ginny Baker’s (Blanche Baker) white, flower-filled church wedding, “Today I Met the Boy I’m Going to Marry” by Darlene Love plays prior to the ceremony, harkening back to the prim and pristine 1950s. The percussive guitar strumming and half-shouted, half-sung vocals of The Specials’ “Little Bitch” is a new wave track that perfectly encompasses high school dances in the ’80s. David Bowie’s rock ballad “Young Americans” uses bright saxophone and steady percussion to transport audiences back to simpler times, when guys asked girls to dance the night away.
“Bridget Jones’s Diary”
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” is one of my favorite adaptations of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Not only does it have witty dialogue and effervescent characters, it also has a captivating soundtrack that’ll make you feel like you’re in the movie. Adapted from Helen Fielding’s book of the same name,“Bridget Jones’s Diary” follows far-from-perfect Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), an English woman who gets caught in a love triangle between her own versions of Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) and Mr. Wickham (Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver). While wallowing in your sorrows with a tub of ice cream, listen to the slow pop ballad “All By Myself” by Jamie O’Neal and belt out the chorus. To pick yourself back up and feel like a strong indomitable woman, listen R&B ballads including Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” Aretha Franklin’s classic “Respect” and Geri Halliwell’s “It’s Raining Men.” All three of these songs feature powerful vocals, brassy instruments and percussive keyboards that keep the current of the songs pulsing. Like “Legally Blonde,” the soundtrack for the movie is filled with girl-power ballads that make the audience rally for Jones. “Bridget Jones’s Diary” is hilarious and poignant, and the soundtrack showcases this perfectly.
“Letters to Juliet”
The soundtrack for “Letters to Juliet” is elite, showcasing memorable tracks in both Italian and English. Starring Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave and Christopher Egan, this 2010 rom-com is a modern-day adaptation of Willam Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Set in Verona, Italy, the film could not be more romantic, with a blend of lovey-dovey ballads and Italian pop songs. To get a taste of Italian music, listen to Laura Jane and Chris Mann’s “Quando, Quando, Quando,” Malika Ayane and Pacifico’s “Sospesa” and Caterina Caselli’s “Sono Bugiarda.” The bright keyboard-heavy chorus of “Sono Bugiarda” hits right when Sophie and Charlie look at each other in the car rearview mirror. At that moment, I knew that I believed in love. Familiar, swoon-worthy tracks in English include“You Got Me” and “What If” by Colbie Caillat as well as Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” Do yourself a favor and introduce yourself to Italian pop music by listening to this soundtrack.
Contact Maya Mehrara at [email protected]