A while ago I came across this theory.
If you don’t feel like following the link, I’ll summarise it here. The post contends, correctly I’d say, that the soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy is telling its own story, or at least a supporting story to the main narrative of the film. The song titles are telling the story of Peter Quill’s mysterious conception. It may be a little grasping at straws, but I find it to be a compelling argument.
Soundtracks are tools in film, and should be used to the fullest extent. Not merely as a way to set a scene, or draw out and emotion, but a song having narrative importance is something else, a level above. Score is built for this, tailored to the specific needs of the film and the characters in it. An external song being put to perfect use is rare, and entire soundtrack is unique.
The Big Chill is another strong contender in this category. The Rolling Stones have never been used to greater effect than in Kasdan’s nostalgic fair. Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs both take great pride in the use of soundtrack to support the narrative, Stuck in the middle with you to serenade a man trapped in an unfortunate situation in Dogs, and a Chuck Berry tune about poor heightens the romantic tension on what should be a platonic date.
The dancing elephant in the room here are musicals, the genre that utterly depends on music to carry the narrative. They’re not as popular as they once were, no actors are strictly associated with them as they once would have been, like Rogers and Astaire. And on that note, let’s have a more recent musical play us out.
And a group of people explaining the hardships of living in a musical.