9 of the best, or at least most notable, soundtracks to movies made in Wilmington

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A great movie soundtrack should not only perfectly capture the vibe of the story but also be able to stand on its own and command repeated listens.

Whether it's the glittery, disco-tastic glamour of "Saturday Night Fever," the poppy exuberance of "Footloose," the retro cool of "Pulp Fiction" or the gritty desperation of "Trainspotting," one thing these soundtracks have in common is an almost symbiotic relationship between the music and the on-screen action.

And while soundtracks for movies made in Wilmington might not have attained all-time greatness like those mentioned above, there are still some pretty good ones. Let's take a look back across the decades at some of the best (or at least most notable) soundtracks to come from movies made in the Port City.


'Maximum Overdrive'

Sometimes the soundtrack is better and/or more memorable than the movie. That's certainly the case with the classic 1986 AC/DC album "Who Made Who," which also doubled as the soundtrack to this Stephen King-directed schlock fest about machines that come to life and threaten mankind.

A cult classic to some, King himself has disavowed "Maximum Overdrive." But ironically, even as the film tanked at the box office and is (at least to me) nearly unwatchable, the high-octane songs from its soundtrack helped propel AC/DC back into the mainstream after an early '80s downturn. Tunes like "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" remain rock radio staples to this day.

'Dream a Little Dream'

Befitting its story about an '80s teen (an in-his-prime Corey Feldman) who switches bodies "Freaky Friday"-style with an old geezer (Jason Robards), the soundtrack to this 1989 movie is a head-spinning mix that's a bit all over the place. FM radio staples (REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know (And I Feel Fine)" and Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic") bounce up against the title chestnut (spiffed up for the film by Mickey Thomas and the Velvet Fog himself, Mel Torme) and couple of rather on-the-nose inclusions, like Otis Redding's "I've Got Dreams to Remember." The soundtrack spawned at least one radio hit, Michael Damian's spookily bombastic cover of Michael Essex's 1973 song "Rock On."


'The Crow'

Soundtrack for this dark 1994 film about a supernatural avenger from beyond the grave played by Brandon Lee, who was killed on set in a tragic shooting accident during filming, is appropriately heavy and brooding. Bands contributing songs are who's who of '90s hard rockers, including Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Pantera and Machines of Loving Grace.

'Empire Records'

If "The Crow" soundtrack epitomized '90s heaviness, then the soundtrack to this 1995 Wilmington-shot film set in a record store aspired to be the epitome of '90s poppiness. I'm not sure it quite gets there, as the 15-song album includes mostly second-tier songs by such totally '90s acts as The Cranberries, Gin Blossoms, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Evan Dando. Interestingly, one-hit wonder Edwyn Collins' "A Girl Like You" might be the standout.


'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood'

Southern-set, woman-centric dramatic comedy from 2002 is pretty forgettable as a film, but it's got a great soundtrack. Heavy on the work of bluesman Jimmy Reed, it also includes songs by such icons as Taj Mahal, Richard and Linda Thompson, Lauryn Hill, Slim Harpo, Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Tony Bennett and even Bob Dylan.


"Idlewild," the 2006 movie starring Antwan A. Patton (aka Big Boi) and André Benjamin (André 3000) of Atlanta hip-hop outfit Outkast as musicians who run a speakeasy during Prohibition in the South, is surprisingly mid as a film. And its soundtrack, which is essentially an Outkast companion album to the film, isn't close to the duo's best work. On the other hand, its list of guests is fully star-studded, with such names as Janelle Monae, Killer Mike, Macy Gray, Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne.



Raunchy 2014 comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as a fast food worker whose life spirals out of control has a soundtrack of rootsy tunes, all of them but two by the songwriter Michael Andrews. The two non-Andrews songs are from Wilmington bluegrass act Possum Creek, with singer Big Al Hall delivering the high lonesome on their rendition of "John Henry" and adding a country sheen to Otis Redding's R&B shouter "Hard to Handle."


This 2019 release about seminal jazz artist Buddy Bolden is best-known for taking a dozen years to make. But its soundtrack by modern-day jazz master Wynton Marsalis is some high-quality stuff, with Marsalis mining traditional jazz and blues numbers for inspiration while also weaving in elements of his own and playing a mean trumpet throughout.


'Along for the Ride'

Since we're not quite halfway through the '20s, we'll just do the one soundtrack — actually, make that the official, 30-song Spotify playlist — for this decade. It's from a 2022 coming-of-age Netflix drama that's also a slick, scenic showcase for Carolina and Kure beaches.

With by far the most contemporary artists of all the soundtracks on this list, highlights include Wilmington band The Girls' fist-pumping anthem "School for Fools"; Electrelane's moodily propulsive "To the East"; and Girls' jangly, profane "Lust for Life," which isn't a cover of the Iggy Pop banger but rather a poppy dream about love, suntans and beach houses.

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: What are soundtracks to movies made in Wilmington, NC?