The history of rock music is an intriguing tale. Read all about the different ages and subgenres of rock at Audio Network.
TOP 10 BEST SELLING MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS OF ALL TIME
- 02 Jun
From Grease Lightning to the Circle of Life, many of the world’s most famous songs originate from films, so it’s not surprising that some of the most profitable albums in history are movie soundtracks.
Here, we take you on a musical trip as we round up the bestselling movie soundtracks of all time. We’ll journey across a range of film genres and highlight some of our production genre playlists (in case you’re working on a creative project that we can help out with). Ready to enjoy the ride? Great. Let’s get stuck in!
The Best Selling Movie Soundtracks
The Bodyguard (1992)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
Purple Rain (1984)
The Lion King (1994)
Best Selling Movie Soundtracks 10-5
10. The Lion King (1994)
Copies Sold: 15 million
Which Disney movie has the bestselling soundtrack? The Lion King, of course. Inspired by the bible and Shakespeare, The Lion King is Disney’s animated masterpiece. From start to finish the film is emotional, exciting and entertaining.
And the same goes for its soundtrack. The Lion King is composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer and also features songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, including ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’. All of these songs feature Southern African musical elements that help tie the soundtrack to the landscape depicted in the film.
Working on your own South African project? Take a moment to discover our South Africa playlist.
9. Bombay (1995)
Copies Sold: 15 million
The ninth best-selling soundtrack of all time is from Tamil Cinema classic Bombay. The romantic drama film is set in the early 90s and focuses on an inter-religious family coming to terms with the growing tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Bombay (now known as Mumbai).
The Bombay soundtrack was produced by multifaceted talent AR Rahman; the lyrics to the original Tamil version of the film were written by Vairamuthu and Vaali; the lyrics for the Hindi and Telugu versions of the film were written by Veturi Sundararama Murthy and Mehboob. The collection of songs they created continue to inspire South Asian cinema.
The most powerful song is ‘Tu Hi Re’ which amplifies the complexities of forbidden love. You can listen to it above. Alternatively, check out our range of Indian-inspired music over at our Indian playlist page.
8. Flashdance (1983)
Copies Sold: 20 million
Flashdance is one of the most memorable dance flicks in film history, and the soundtrack is just as unforgettable. Funnily, the film wasn’t projected to do as well as it did, so the soundtrack was stocked in limited qualities; after a few days, it sold out.
It’s filled with the vigour of 80s adolescence, especially in Michael Sembello’s ‘Maniac’, Shandi’s ‘He's A Dream’, and standout track, Cara’s ‘Flashdance...What a Feeling’. Feeling nostalgic? Relive your youth by watching the memorable final dance scene, above.
7. Purple Rain (1984)
Copies Sold: 20 million
Prince’s film Purple Rain has arguably equal billing with its dynamic soundtrack, which also doubled as his sixth studio album. The music drives the narrative of the rock musical in ways that are so impressive it won the Oscar for Best Original Score.
Alongside the groundbreaking power ballad ‘Purple Rain’, the soundtrack features some of the most significant hits in Prince’s discography – including ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and ‘I Would Die 4 U’. Seriously impressive.
6. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
Copies Sold: 20 million
If you include pirate copies, it is estimated that the soundtrack to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – a Hindi-language romance film directed by Aditya Chopra – has sold around 100 million units. But for the purpose of this article, we will stick with the official number of 20 million copies – which is still super impressive.
The narrative focuses on two Indian Londoners who fall in love on a European trip, but the music is unmistakably Indian. Every song on the soundtrack is big, bright and colourful, and perfectly captures the thrill of young love.
5. Aashiqui (1990)
Copies Sold: 20 million
You may not have heard of the Indian romantic musical Aashiqui but you probably have heard tracks from the Aashiqui soundtrack.
Composed by creative duo Nadeem–Shravan, one reason the Aashiqui is the bestselling Bollywood soundtrack of all time is because it’s just as key to the storytelling as the visuals. And what’s the story? It focuses on an aspiring singer whose girlfriend becomes a successful model.
Our favourite song on the Aashiqui soundtrack is ‘Jaan-E-Jigar Jaaneman’, an intrinsically South Asian song that’s immensely hypnotic. Watch and listen above.
Top 5 Bestselling Movie Soundtracks
4. Grease (1978)
Copies Sold: 28 million
Which film has the best soundtrack? Well, it’s got to be Grease because there’s something for everyone.
Fan of an emotive ballad? Stick on ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’. Feeling catty? Put ‘Look at Me, I’m Sandra ’ on repeat. Want to duet with your lover? Ask Alexa (or Siri, or Google) to play the number 1 hit, ‘You’re the One That I Want’. If only contemporary albums were so dynamic…
What you might not know is that most of the songs on the Grease album originate from the original 1971 rock ’n’ roll musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren. This includes ‘Greased Lightning’, ‘We Go Together’ and our favourite, ‘Beauty School Dropout’ (one of our favourite guilty pleasures).
Working on your own rock ’n’ roll project? Make sure you check out our 1950s playlist.
3. Titanic (1997)
Copies Sold: 30 million
The Titanic was a sinking ship, but James Cameron’s epic blockbuster certainly wasn’t, as the 90s film continues to attract audiences to this day. In fact, the film has proven so popular since its release, it ranks third in the highest-grossing films of all time (currently sitting around $2.195 billion) and its soundtrack ranks fourth in the bestselling soundtracks of all time.
And while James Horner’s orchestral compositions are nothing short of sublime, we bet our bottom dollar that most of the 30 million sales are thanks to Celine Dion’s magnificent, award-winning vocals. ‘My Heart Will Go On’ won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and also picked up four awards at the 1999 Grammys, and we totally understand why.
3. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Copies Sold: 32 million
The bestselling movie soundtrack in the UK ever is Dirty Dancing. But it wasn’t just the Brits that were enthralled by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s chemistry, it was the whole world.
The soundtrack brims with iconic hits, including ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes, ‘Do You Love Me’ by The Contours and ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ by The Shirelles. But, the standout hit from the motion picture is one that was new to audiences at the time; it’s now credited as the theme tune for Dirty Dancing. It goes without saying we’re referring to Bill Medley and Jennifer Warner’s ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’.
2. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Copies Sold: 40 million
Saturday Night Fever is a quintessential 70s disco movie featuring the second best-selling soundtrack in film history. Fun fact: the album stayed at the top of the charts for 24 straight weeks back in 1978. Cool, right?
The film focuses on a young Italian-American man (played by John Travolta) and his passion for disco dancing, and features a soundtrack that is aptly filled with disco anthems – many of which come from funky British band the Bee Gees. We’re talking songs such as ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘Night Fever’ and ‘More than a Woman’. Interestingly, the band didn’t even get involved in the film until post production; while filming his scenes, John Travolta was actually dancing to the likes of Boz Scaggs and Stevie Wonder…!
Listen to our selection of disco songs over on our disco playlist page.
1. The Bodyguard (1992)
Copies Sold: 45 million
What is the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time? It’s The Bodyguard soundtrack. Obviously.
The film, which grossed $411 million, features a soundtrack that’s sold over 45 million copies – a testament to the unparalleled star power of the late Whitney Houston.
Produced by Houston and Clive Davis, the soundtrack features some of the singer's most memorable hits, including ‘I Have Nothing’, ‘Run to You’ and, of course, her world-renowned rendition of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’. Just thinking about it is inspiring us to run a bath, light a few candles and play it on repeat.
The Soundtrack to Your Next Project
So, there you have it: the best movie soundtracks of all time. What do they have in common? They all make an impact – whether that’s to encourage the audience to get up and dance or make them uncontrollably teary.
Want to create your own impactful soundtrack for an upcoming project? Say no more. Here at Audio Network we’ve got music of all types for every mood and emotion.
And while you’re here, why not check out some of our other film music articles?
We’ve left the 50s’ super-sexist ads behind, but contemporary ads are still not ideal. We look at the most sexist ads – from Maybelline in the 60s to KFC last year.
Although pop music is a term used worldwide, its meaning is rather ambiguous. So, we’re asking the questions you need answering - including, is pop a genre?