The 5 Best Summer Film Soundtracks

So you’ve got your hotels booked, your bags packed and your house locked. Anything missing? What about a holiday soundtrack you can listen to whilst you’re on a long, seemingly endless highway or trying to kill time sunbathing at the beach? Or if you’re staying at home this summer, make the most out of the British sun and turn your garden into your own drive-in cinema. Stick on one of the following films, project them on a wall and chill out to their summery tunes.

Here at Zavvi, we’ve picked 5 amazing summer film soundtracks that represent that lovely, breezy summer feeling for us.

Easy Rider (1969)

Directed by: Dennis Hopper

Soundtrack: Steppenwolf – ‘Born To Be Wild’, Jimi Hendrix – ‘If 6 Was 9’, The Electric Prunes – ‘Kyrie Eleison’, The Band – ‘The Weight’

Pivotal musical moment: The Byrds – ‘Wasn’t Born To Follow’


In this 1960s classic, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper step on their motorcycles and ride off through the rugged, mountainous landscape of southern USA. Whilst they pick up a hitchhiker (Jack Nicholson) and ride off towards adventure, The Byrds’ classical country anthem ‘Wasn’t Born To Follow’ can be heard in the background, capturing the free-spiritedness and revolt the film embodies.

Perfect summer soundtrack because: You can totally imagine yourself driving on the Route 66 with a hippie hitchhiker on the back seat, a cigarette in your left hand and the wind blowing through your hair. The soundtrack will wistfully transport you back to the summer of love, the rise of counterculture and the careless freedom your parents might have had a glimpse of back in the day.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Soundtrack: The Kinks – ‘Strangers’, The Rolling Stones – ‘Play With Fire’, Peter Starstedt – ‘Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)’, Joe Dassin – ‘Aux Champs-Élysées’

Pivotal musical moment: The Kinks – ‘This Time Tomorrow’


‘This Time Tomorrow’ is a song about starting a new episode of your life and not knowing what the future will bring. What better song is there to open this epic film with than with The Kinks, Wes Anderson’s number 1 band? When Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody) is running to catch his train across India, The Darjeeling Limited, in the opening scene, he has no idea yet about what’s waiting for him on his journey. Only this brilliant track by The Kinks can capture that excitement of delving into the unknown and the realisation that the world ‘ain’t so big at all’.

Perfect summer soundtrack because: Let’s admit it, no one is entirely sure about what their direction they’re going in and holidays are a great time to reflect on that. If you’re going on a spiritual journey to India or Tibet in search of yourself or your roots, then The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack is a must-have to arm yourself with.

500 Days of Summer (2009)

Directed by: Marc Webb

Soundtrack: The Smiths – ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, The Temper Trap – ‘Sweet Disposition’, Carla Bruni – ‘Quelqu’un M’a Dit’, Regina Spektor – ‘Us’


Pivotal musical moment: Hall and Oates – ‘You Make My Dreams’

The ultimate feel-good moment in the film comes after Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finally steals the heart of his dream girl Summer (Zoeey Deschanel) and walks back home in bliss whilst Hall & Oates’ uplifting disco track from the 1980s can be heard triumphantly in the background. The characters can hear the song too, and Tom, together with some strangers on the street, spontaneously bursts out dancing to the song in one of the funniest, absurdist moments in film history.

Perfect summer soundtrack because: It perfectly embodies that moment in which you just can’t help but smile and feel that everyone else around you is smiling too. “Ah, isn’t life great?” Especially applicable if you’ve just found your own summer love. I guess ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ might put a downer on that summer feeling.

Lost In Translation (2003)

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Soundtrack: Squarepusher – ‘Tommib’, My Bloody Valentine – ‘Sometimes’, The Jesus and Mary Chain – ‘Just Like Honey’, Sébastian Tellier – ‘Fantino’

Pivotal musical moment: Death in Vegas – ‘Girls’


Bill Murray waking up in a taxi driving through the whirlwind of night-time Tokyo with its neon billboards, unfathomable Japanese characters and overwhelming crowds of people. Death in Vegas’ dreamy shoegaze track reflects the ethereal beauty of the city and perfectly sums up the drowsy, distorted atmosphere the film tries and succeeds to evoke.

Perfect summer soundtrack because: Its dreamy, eerie songs are perfect to listen to in the early hours pre-dawn after a surreal night out in a foreign city like Berlin, New York or Tokyo, when you’re not really sure if you’re dreaming or not.

American Graffiti (1973)

Directed by: George Lucas

Soundtrack: Booker T & the M G ‘s – ‘Green Onions’, Buddy Holly – ‘That’ll Be The Day’, The Beach Boys – ‘Surfin’ Safari’, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – ‘Why Do Fools Falls In Love’

Pivotal musical moment: Bill Haley & The Comets – ‘Rock Around The Clock’


It’s August, 1962. School’s over, the summer has started and Bill Haley & The Comet’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’ signifies the start of freedom for America’s cruising and rock and rollin’ youngsters. By opening his film with the ultimate rebellious youth anthem of the 1950s, Lucas sets the tone for the rest of the film that provides a detailed glimpse in the lives of the greasers and teenyboppers that ruled the streets of the suburbs in the 1950s.

Perfect summer soundtrack because: These songs break with the stiffness of everyday life and marked the beginning of the age of freedom just after the Second World War. Still perfect to swing to today when you’ve decided to stay home this year and just opted for cruising to the local drive-in.



Featured Image Source: Hilary Clark

Luke Roberts

Luke Roberts

News Editor

Committed to reporting the latest news from the worlds of film, television and game. Constantly glued to social feeds ensuring I never miss a beat. A believer in music sounding best on vinyl, and an enthusiastic unused substitute come Sunday morning. Never ashamed to admit my love for Les Misérables.

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