Ah, the teenage years. So full of angst, awkward phases, uncertainty….okay, that sounds like a bad voiceover. The beautiful thing about teenagerhood, however, is that it’s universally relatable. All of us go through those teen years, and even if we have different experiences, we tend to relate to others anyway.
I never understood—as a teenager, and now as an adult—why teen years had to be so difficult. It wasn’t always like that, but goodness knows when something came up, it felt like the end of the world at the time. My teenage experience was drastically changed by a big move and an even bigger culture shock, among other things. To help get me through those times, I was hooked on films. Especially ones depicting teenagers. The Breakfast Club was a big deal for me—pretty much any John Hughes movie was on my radar.
Yet, my focus here is on 2000s teen movies. It brings back so many memories and much nostalgia for me. I’ve seen Aquamarine, She’s The Man, Twilight, and more hundreds of times. Their stories and characters stood out to me for a multitude of reasons. However, I find that if a movie doesn’t have the right soundtrack, it throws off its entire tone.
Here, I’ve taken some of the soundtracks that I loved and placed them on this list. I hope they take you back to good times, prompt a spontaneous dance session, or just provide that feel-good vibe that they do for me. Feel free to share some of your favorite 2000s teen movie soundtracks in the comments!
Twilight Soundtrack (2008)
The Twilight soundtrack had a mix of different genres of music, but it suited the chaotic nature of the film. Young and naive Bella meets broody and tortured vampire Edward means a shift in tone, naturally, which must be shown not just in film but also in its soundtrack.
I owned the soundtrack and listened to it religiously as a teenager. I wasn’t exactly a “twi-hard”, but I held my own. I was particularly hooked on the tracks “Full Moon”, “Eyes On Fire”, “Supermassive Black Hole” and “Spotlight.” “Full Moon” made for a good road trip song, matching my feelings as I looked out the window as things disappeared and reappeared, and “Eyes On Fire” was a good brooding song. Broody, happy, fun—the tracks are as random as a teen’s emotions, but it’s perfect for the angst-filled human-vampire love story.
The Princess Diaries Soundtrack (2001)
I watched The Princess Diaries all the time growing up. It’s still one of my favorite childhood movies. Given the film’s plot is about a teenage girl that suddenly discovers she’s a princess, the songs are lighthearted and aptly titled, like B*Witched’s “Hold On” and “The Journey” by Mpulz.
The soundtrack isn’t meant to be taken too seriously; it’s just meant to bring the good vibes. “I Love Life” by Melissa Lefton supports this notion. However, my personal favorites off the soundtrack are Krystal Harris’ “SuperGirl” and Nobody’s Angel and Lil J’s cover of the Salt-N-Pepa song “Aint’ Nuthin’ But A She Thing.” I still have yet to listen to the latter song while driving over the Golden Gate Bridge in my own tribute to The Princess Diaries scene.
Nancy Drew Soundtrack (2007)
I was an avid reader of the Nancy Drew books, so of course I was psyched when the movie came out–and I love it to this day. The soundtrack provides plenty of relatable teen moments in lyrics like those of Liz Phair’s “Perfect Misfit” and Flunk’s angsty “Blue Monday”, but also provides its happier, more upbeat sounds in songs like “Come to California” and Joanna’s “Pretty Much Amazing.” Plus, it brings back the 1981 Kim Wilde classic “Kids in America”, this time performed by one of my favorite 2000s bands, The Donnas.
However, my personal favorite off the soundtrack is Rooney’s “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?”. It’s not even listed on the soundtrack, but it should be. It plays in the final moments of the film, and I listened to it constantly for months afterwards. It’s always fun to rediscover it in one of my playlists, and it reminds me of one of my favorite teen movies.
The Perfect Man Soundtrack (2005)
Hilary Duff was one of the stars of the film, but strangely enough, she doesn’t have any songs on the soundtrack. Still, the soundtrack contains one of the most positive and upbeat compilation of songs I know, so it’s a good one to pull out in times of a mental health recharge.
The best song to dance to, in my opinion, is “I Will Learn to Love Again.” It’s happy, it’s a positive message–need I say more? However, I also love Sarah Overall’s “The Real Thing”, as well as Grits’ “Make Room”, which are two totally different tracks. Howie Day’s “Collide” is a good song as well, but personally, I’ve heard it so much (I swear they played it on the radio constantly when it came out) that I still can’t quite listen to the song all the way through.
What A Girl Wants Soundtrack (2003)
Music appeared to be a very important element to this film. Amanda Bynes and Colin Firth share a memorable scene in which they play hooky and hang out, getting to know one another, and browse through records of classic bands, with Bynes settling on Rick Derringer, whose hit song “Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo” plays. Perhaps it’s just ingrained in my memory, but I thought it was a meaningful bonding moment between father and daughter.
Bynes’ character clearly loves music, listening to more modern music like Holly Valance’s “Kiss Kiss” and Craig David’s “What’s Your Flava” onscreen. I personally love the tracks “Who Invited You” by The Donnas and “London Calling” by The Clash, both bands of which I’ve long been a fan of. The blend of classic and contemporary music was fluid and seemly, both for the film and Bynes’ character. It also happens to be one of my favorite combinations of music for a soundtrack, so maybe I’m a tad biased.
Holes Soundtrack (2003)
This soundtrack is diverse; it has a range of music genres, offering something to every audience member. Everything appears to fit into the movie’s story and setting–the titles are definitely befitting, as evidenced by “Keep’n It Real”, “Let’s Make a Better World”, “Down to the Valley” and “Don’t Give Up.”
My personal favorites are Moby’s “Honey” and of course The D-Tent Boys’ “Dig It.” The latter is especially catchy. Those poor boys were digging holes under sweltering desert heat against their will; creating a catchy track like “Dig It” that applies to that experience is tricky, but it was mastered in this case.
Herbie: Fully Loaded Soundtrack (2005)
Like the Sky High soundtrack listed below, Herbie: Fully Loaded provided covers of classic songs, integrating them using current artists and again making the songs known and loved by another generation. The Donnas provided a cover for Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Roll On Down The Highway” and Aly & AJ contributed a cover for Katrina and the Waves’ “Walkin’ On Sunshine”, for example. However, the soundtrack also included songs from their original artists, like “Hello” by Lionel Richie and “Magic” by Pilot.
One of the film’s stars, Lindsay Lohan, contributed “First” to the track–it’s not my favorite Lindsay Lohan song, but it’s alright. The soundtrack is missing a couple of songs featured in the film that I love in particular–Van Halen’s “Jump” and Sol Seppy’s “Nice Car.” In any case, the soundtrack is a good mixture of past and present songs, appealing to several generations.
Sky High Soundtrack (2005)
I was watching Sky High recently and was again reminded of its phenomenal soundtrack. I was exposed to songs of the 1980s through my mom, and the soundtrack does an excellent job of modernizing the 1980s classics and adapting them into this 2005 teen movie. Artists like Bowling for Soup modernized “I Melt With You”, originally done by Modern English and released in 1982. My personal favorite, “Voices Carry”, was originally released by ‘Til Tuesday in 1984, but was performed by Vitamin C for the film.
This is the kind of soundtrack that gets stuck in your head. In a good way. There’s a good variety of tracks, and I love the fact that it re-introduced popular ’80s songs for a new generation to enjoy. It’s not easy to bring back the classics and make them sound like they’re modern, but Sky High set a high bar for films looking to include the classics in their own soundtrack.
Aquamarine Soundtrack (2006)
The overall tone of the soundtrack is fun and summery. Artists like Mandy Moore and The Jonas Brothers grace the playlist, alongside the film’s stars Emma Roberts and Sara Paxton, who perform “Island in the Sun” and “Connected”, respectively. Considering JoJo Levesque was an established singer with hits like “Leave (Get Out)” under her belt, I was surprised the soundtrack didn’t have something from her on it.
Nonetheless, I love the soundtrack. It reminds me of hanging out with my besties, enjoying that summer freedom outside of school and life, where we could just be ourselves. Worries about social cliques, homework, futures and life itself dissolve away with a soundtrack like this—like the film, the soundtrack itself is an adventure, with a little bit of everything on it. Like Mandy Moore’s 2000s spin on the 1978 Blondie classic “One Way or Another”, or “I Like The Way” by Bodyrockers (one of my personal favorites off the soundtrack), it’s a shift in music and tone, but still matching each other in some cosmic way.
She’s The Man Soundtrack (2006)
It doesn’t get any more 2000s than this soundtrack. I was an Amanda Bynes fan, and I couldn’t wait until this movie came out. I remember buying songs off this soundtrack on Itunes later on; songs which still exist on my playlist today.
“Dirty Little Secret” by The All-American Rejects was an exceptional choice, given the film’s plot. OK Go, The Veronicas, Shaggy, and The Faders all appeared on the soundtrack too, their contributions only adding greatness. The Faders’ “No Sleep Tonight” is the very first song audiences hear, and its introduction is a great start to an album that only gets better and better throughout the film–“No Sleep Tonight” made my list on a Memory Tapes article I wrote a little while ago. Admittedly, I’m still obsessed with the song, and it’s thanks to this soundtrack.