It was a good year for movie soundtracks, with some outstanding additions to the sub-genre. Three in particular raised their voices to an even higher profile than the movies from which they came.
'Atomic Blonde (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack),' various
Charlize Theron starred as a take-no-prisoners spy in this thriller ripped from the pages of a graphic novel. The movie, which had its world premiere at Austin's South by Southwest, starts slow but burns with intensity, mainly because the music starts talking. It's the 1980s all over again, getting you in the mood for some Cold War espionage and some high-octane fight scenes. David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" and "Finding the UHF Device" from Tyler Bates bookend the soundtrack that has two, count 'em, two versions of "99 Luftballons."
'Baby Driver (Music From the Motion Picture,' various artists
The movie made bank, when you consider it was made for a relatively modest (by Hollywood standards) $30 million. And while reviews were mixed, no one wavered in their enthusiasm for the Grammy-nominated soundtrack. Play this in the car and any passenger will ask in wonder, "What is this?" This is the soundtrack of your dreams, baby; even the title of the movie is taken from a song. Whether your tastes run to rock ("Brighton Rock" by Queen), blues ("Bellbottoms" from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) or funk ("Kashmere" from Texas Thunder Soul), this double-disc set has you covered. Long after the movie fades from memory, you'll reach for this music.
'The Star (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack),' various artists
The movie may have lulled you to sleep, but when the beat drops for Kirk Franklin's "We Three Kings," you wake up to the real wonder of it. The music is the star in this celebrity-laden film that tells the birth of Jesus from the animals' point of view. The cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Kristen Chenoweth, Christopher Plummer and even Joel Osteen. The soundtrack tries to match the star power, including songs from Fifth Harmony, Yolanda Adams, Kelsea Ballerini and Zara Larsson. After Franklin, Arlington keeps representing: Pentatonix performs "Carol of the Bells." Other standout songs include Jake Owen with "What Child Is This?" and "Queen of Christmas" Mariah Carey with the title track.