Ranking The 10 Best Songs from The Collateral Soundtrack

Released in 2004, Collateral is an American neo-noir action thriller movie produced and directed by Michael Mann and starring Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise. The musical score for this film was primarily composed by the five-time Oscar nominated James Newton Howard with more songs from Paul Oakenfold and Audioslave. Unlike many film soundtracks that use compilations, the Collateral Soundtrack is refreshing and innovative, and each track stands out as an independent piece of music in its own right. Let’s rank our ten best songs from the soundtrack.

10. Max Steals Briefcase (James Newton Howard)


While Howard’s work on Collateral falls shy of his composition for The Village, it is still very remarkable. Howard was very careful to match the theme of the film and fit the styles used by the other composers in the soundtrack. In Max Steals Briefcase, he uses percussion to fuel the electric guitars and lend credence to Max’s chase. The effect is absolutely thrilling and will have you on the edge of your seat.

9. Briefcase (Tom Rothrock )


The Collateral Soundtrack starts off with Briefcase, which is composed by Tom Rothrock. Most famous for his work with Elliott Smith and Beck, Rothrock infuses this song with driving guitars and violently percussive cues. The tune sets the pace for the rest of the movie and the songs that follow.

8. Rollin’ Crumblin’ (Tom Rothrock)


American record producer, composer, musician, and Bong Load Records owner Rothrock, has contributed to or composed soundtracks for many notable films. This includes Good Will Hunting and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Of all his compositions, Rollin’ Crumblin’ stands out as one of the most popular. It features very strong 80’s power chords that blend in perfectly with Mann’s vision for Collateral.

7. Shadow on the Sun (Tom Morello, Chris Cornell, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford)


Shadow on the Sun is performed by Audioslave and written by Tom Morello, Chris Cornell, and Tim Commerford. Tom Morello provides the additional guitar, with Chris Cornell taking over the vocals. The former Sound Garden member blesses Shadow on the Sun with a distinctive voice that is hard to mistake. Overall, this song will blow you away. The lyrics are a perfect ode to the scene they accompany, and the instruments are all on point.

6. Finale (James Newton Howard)


In a move worthy of his fame, James Newton composed the final sequence of the Collateral Soundtrack. Finale is remarkably pensive and really wraps up the soundtrack in a satisfying way. Howard provides three cues, but the sequence is composed by Antonio Pinto and Tom Rothrock.

5. Requiem (Antonio Pinto)


Antonio Pinto got to contribute two full songs to this sequence, including Requiem, which offers a melancholic close to the album. Compared to the music from the other composers – Oakenfold, Audioslave, Miles Davis – Pinto’s piece is laid back. It takes on a more emotional approach, providing a strong musical finish to the perfect sequence.

4. Spanish Key (Miles Davis)


Spanish Key is a magnificent change of pace from the previous tracks – it is jazz-infused. Yes, it is the 1970 song written and performed by American bandleader, composer, and trumpeter Miles Davis in his 1969 album Bitches Brew. The rhythm section consists of two bassists – one playing double bass and the other playing bass guitar – a percussionist, and three electric piano players all playing at once. It is an explosion of music that brings life to the entire soundtrack. Recorded by Columbia Records in 1969, the song and the album are a part of continued Davis’ experimentation with electric instruments like the electric guitar and piano. It is a slight deviation from the traditional rhythms that are typical of jazz and features more improvised, rock-influenced arrangements. Bitches Brew was Davis’s highest charting album on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number 35. It also won a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

3. Ready Steady Go (Korean style), (Paul Oakenfold)


Ready Steady Go is another dramatic change of pace and style in the Collateral Soundtrack. Composed by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray, it is an electronica piece with dramatic music arrangements that were cut remarkably into the film. Oakenfold lends his vocals to the revolutionary remix, Korean Style, to produce a stunning piece of musical art. Ready Steady Go has been used in other media, including films, TV series, and video games like DDR Ultramix and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003.

2. Destino de Abril (Green Car Motel)


In Collateral, Max (played by Jamie Foxx) is a cab driver that is forced to drive throughout LA by Vincent (played by Tom Cruise), a professional hitman. The trip sees him drive through the city from Korea town to downtown, and Mann represents all these locales with tracks in the soundtrack. Destino de Abril does this perfectly. Written by Cisco de Luna, Rene Reyes, and Rick Garcia, the song is performed by The Green Car Motel and is hauntingly beautiful.

1. Hands of Time (Andrew Cato, Thomas Findlay, and Richard Havens)


Number one on our list is Hands of Time, which is performed by Groove Armada and Richie Havens and written by Havens, Tom Findlay, and Andrew Cato. Ritchie Valens offers strong vocals, which alone are enough to keep you coming back for more. Since the two leads in the film and opposites, the music is designed to represent this opposition. Hands of Time is most representative of Max, who is an introverted and complacent character. The mellow rhythm is groovy and blue, with just the right amount of action. You will certainly love Hands of Time.


After its August 6 2004 release in the United States, Collateral grossed more than $220 million globally and received critical acclaim. Part of this success can be attributed to James Newton Howard’s compositional genius and the support of great artists like Antonio Pinto. But what really makes the Collateral Soundtrack stand out is the combination of introspection and mellow and intense moods accompanied by a moody hypnotic quality, dominating guitar rhythms, and ethnic music. The fact that one album perfectly balances multiple music styles and genres is a modern-day musical wonder.

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