Music is more important to the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies than any other installments in the MCU because Peter Quill’s mixtapes are pivotal to his character. His mother made them for him and he listens to them on his Walkman as he and the Guardians save the universe.
Whilst fans wait for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, there are still many songs to listen to across each of the Guardians’ big-screen appearances. Not only are there the two Guardians Of The Galaxy films by James Gunn, but the Guardians also had significant roles as well as tunes in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. The question remains: which songs were the most impactful across the films?
Updated on June 29th, 2022 by Melody MacReady: With Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 in the future of the MCU, more songs are likely to be added thanks to the return of James Gunn. However, the Guardians Of The Galaxy are set to return in Thor: Love And Thunder where they are likely to be paired with some classic songs.
Until then, there are still two volumes worth of songs along with some extras that can be found in their crossovers with the Avengers. It’s impossible to stop with just ten songs when there have been so many songs paired with iconic sequences thanks to the genius of director James Gunn.
13 “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens
The most heartbreaking thing about Yondu’s death in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is more specific than simply the loss of a great character. He sacrificed himself to save Quill right after Quill realized he’d known his real father all along. It wasn’t his biological Celestial father; it was the Ravager who raised him.
It was only fitting to have a song called “Father and Son,” performed by the great Cat Stevens, playing over Yondu’s funeral. It also made for an apt send-off for the character and a very emotional ending to the sequel.
12 “Bring It on Home to Me” by Sam Cooke
In the first Guardians movie, Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord introduces Gamora to the notion of dancing via the “legend” of Footloose. In the second one, they dance together, and it’s a really sweet and romantic and beautiful scene.
Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” was used for the scene and it set the mood incredibly. The song has a tremendous legacy, too; it’s been named by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the songs that shaped the rock and roll genre in the first place.
11 “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” By Looking Glass
The melody is very calming and easy-going, which makes it suitable for a dating scene, but it actually has a sad deeper meaning. It tells the story of a barmaid who flirts with lonesome sailors in the small harbor town where she works, but she really misses the love that left her a long time ago.
The track reappears later in the movie as Quill listens to it on Ego’s planet and Ego calls it “one of Earth’s greatest musical compositions, perhaps the greatest.” When it’s later revealed what Ego did to Quill’s mother, a tragic layer is added to it and the deeper meaning makes sense to a disturbing degree.
10 “The Rubberband Man” By The Spinners
“The Rubberband Man” by the Spinners plays in the scene that introduces the cosmic team into Avengers: Infinity War. With its blending of the funk and soul musical styles, “The Rubberband Man” was the perfect song choice to segue from the Avengers to the Guardians.
It was supposed to feel like the scene had been lifted from a Guardians of the Galaxy movie and stitched into a giant Avengers team-up, and that’s exactly the feeling we get with the Spinners on the soundtrack.
9 “Mr. Blue Sky” By The Electric Light Orchestra
A movie’s opening track is responsible for setting the tone for the entire thing. At the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the characters battle a giant alien squid-like being.
Instead of focusing on that, James Gunn keeps the attention on Baby Groot as he dances to “Mr. Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra. The film’s comedic style is established immediately and the viewers settle back in for another cosmic adventure with these quirky characters.
8 “Hooked On A Feeling” By Blue Swede
Even though Guardians Of The Galaxy had a main orchestral theme, most fans will always think of “Hooked On A Feeling” for this team of the intergalactic outlaws. It was the song that played in the trailer, giving fans a taste of James Gunn’s love for music and how it would be used in scenes.
In the actual movie, the song is used to help establish the cruel and brutal nature of the prison known as The Kyln. Due to Guardians Of The Galaxy, “Hooked On A Feeling” became the #1 song on multiple platforms again.
7 “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” By Silver
James Gunn continued to improve on how he implemented music in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 with “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang.” Rather than the song just playing during the climax, many of the actions and visuals happen in sync with the beat of the poppy and upbeat song.
It’s quite a juxtaposition but in a good way. The fate of the entire universe is at stake because of Ego The Living Planet and the Sovereign are attacking at the same time. However, Silver’s song keeps the climax filled with energy, keeps the stakes, and makes the viewer want to dance as the Guardians kick ass.
6 “Come and Get Your Love” By Redbone
There’s a huge tonal shift in the opening when audiences see Peter Quill as an adult, played by the talented Chris Pratt. At first, it’s dark and gloomy but suddenly becomes lively and comedic with Star-Lord dancing around a distant planet, listening to his Walkman, and stealing the Power Stone.
Its funk-rock sound introduces us excellently to this intergalactic combination of Han Solo and Indiana Jones and set up for a very fun movie. It’s also from this opening that audiences knew that they were in for something very different for the MCU.
5 “My Sweet Lord” By George Harrison
Right after the Guardians meet Peter Quill’s father Ego, played by the talented Kurt Russell, he takes them back to his planet. All that is being told visually about Ego’s planet is that it’s a strange paradise, and that’s what makes George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” such a good fit.
The ethereal, psychedelic, almost surreal sounds of Harrison’s guitar riffs introduce the planet perfectly. The former member of the Beatles was inspired by religious imagery when writing the song, which plays into Ego’s god-like power and pompous nature.
4 “I Want You Back” By the Jackson 5
James Gunn got to toy with his audience’s emotions by killing off Groot. Moviegoers sighed with relief, and smiled uncontrollably when they saw Baby Groot dancing to the sounds of the Jackson 5’s soulful hit “I Want You Back.”
It was a delightful scene and “I Want You Back” was the perfect choice for the soundtrack after such an intense rollercoaster of emotions in the climax. It allowed viewers to leave Guardians Of The Galaxy with a bright smile and one last chuckle as Groot toys with Drax.
3 “Moonage Daydream” By David Bowie
David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” is played over the scene in which the Guardians first arrive on Knowhere. His otherworldly sound pairs beautifully with the otherworldly imagery of a Celestial skull floating through space.
It shows the impact of James Gunn’s style for the Guardians when the recent Guardians Of The Galaxy video game utilized music in a similar fashion. It even has a similar establishing shot of its own version of Knowhere.
2 “Come A Little Bit Closer” By Jay & The Americans
This is when Yondu officially steals Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, using his advanced Yaka Arrow to decimate all of the Ravagers that betrayed him. Thanks to Rocket, Yondu is able to slay whilst “Come A Little Bit Closer” by Jay & The Americans as they retake the ship.
The joyous and almost operatic sound of the song adds to the common trope that ultra-violence is much more tolerable when paired with something more upbeat. The way Yondu murders the Ravagers is actually rather dark and twisted but the music makes the scene one of the most fun scenes in the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies.
1 “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac
Usually, in the final battle scenes of MCU movies, a grandiose, sweeping, orchestral score will play to capture the weight and gravity of what’s going on. But James Gunn has demonstrated with the Guardians of the Galaxy movies that the same can be accomplished – and is actually more effective – with a pop classic.
At the end of Vol. 2, as Quill finally manages to channel his Celestial half and battle Ego. The dramatic heft of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” packs the emotional punch the scene needs; especially since it becomes less of a fight for the universe and more of a son defying his said excuse of a father.
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