Considering High Fidelity revolves as much around the music obsessions of record store owner and full-time music snob Rob Gordon as his romantic relationships, you’d expect its soundtrack to be something special, and you’d be right. Consisting of an eclectic collection of solid Gen -X sounds from the likes of Stereolab, Smog, and Royal Trux, groundbreaking rock from pioneers like Velvet Underground, Love and Bob Dylan, and even a dash of blue-eyed soul from Jack Black (who steals the show from co-stars John Cusack and Iben Hjejle with his performance as Barry Judd), it’s a must-listen. Here’s how we rank all the songs from the High Fidelity soundtrack.
15. Let’s Get It On – Barry Jive & The Uptown Five (Jack Black)
Even if you’re already aware of Jack Black’s history with Tenacious D, his jaw-droppingly powerful performance of Marvin Gaye’s Motown classic Let’s Get it On will still take you by surprise.
14. I’m Wrong About Everything – John Wesley Harding
John Wesley Harding might never have made it big in the mainstream, but that doesn’t dilute the charm of hits like the vaguely Elvis Costello-sounding I’m Wrong About Everything.
13. Fallen for You – Sheila Nicholls
Fallen for You from singer-songwriter Sheila Nicholls’ critically acclaimed debut album, Brief Stop, was already a huge hit on college radio by the time it found its way onto the High Fidelity soundtrack.
12. Dry the Rain – The Beta Band
Both Dry the Rain and its accompanying album, The Three E.P.’s, feature prominently on High Fidelity, to the point that sales of the album quadrupled in the month following the film’s release.
11. Cold Blooded Old Times – Smog
Knock Knock is widely considered one of Smog’s best albums – on songs like the cleverly ironic Cold Blooded Old Times on it, it’s easy to see why.
10. Lo Boob Oscillator – Stereolab
Avant pop band Stereolab hit just the right note with their 1995 compilation album Refried Ectoplasm, producing what All Music described as “far more than a mere oddities collection. More than any other album, Refried Ectoplasm charts Stereolab’s astonishing musical growth.” Lo Boob Oscillator is one of its most distinctive tracks.
9. You’re Gonna Miss Me – 13th Floor Elevators
13th Floor Elevators might only have been around for a brief time, but in the four years they stuck together, they released four albums, pioneered psychedelic rock, and became a major influence on everyone from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top to Peter Albin of Big Brother and the Holding Company. You’re Gonna Miss Me, their acid-flavored debut single, reached number 55 in 1966.
8. The Inside Game – Royal Trux
Royal Trux might never have reached household name status, but without them, everyone from The Kills to the White Stripes, Primal Scream to Pavement would have had a very different sound. They’re the most influential band that nobody’s ever heard of, and The Inside Game might well be the coolest song that nobody’s ever listened to. Even now, over 20 years after its release, it still sounds as cutting edge as ever.
7. Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy – The Kinks
After 12 consecutive top ten hits in the UK, The Kinks broke their white-hot streak with Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy, which reached number 17 in March 1965. Even if it didn’t match the commercial success of the band’s previous singles, it’s still a fabulous, utterly joyful song… or, as Cash Box describes it, a “catchy, high-spirited, rhythmic multi-beat teen-oriented terpsichorean item.”
6. Who Loves the Sun – The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground contributed two songs to the High Fidelity soundtrack, one of which is the enduringly lovely Who Loves the Sun from the band’s 1970 album, Loaded.
5. Shipbuilding – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
This sardonic anti-war song by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer was written at the height of the Falklands War in 1982. If you like the version by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, it’s worth checking out singer-songwriter Robert Wyatt’s equally sublime cover.
4. Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ – The Velvet Underground
The second contribution from the Velvet Underground to the High Fidelity soundtrack is Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, the final track of what, for most fans at least, is the final VU album (Squeeze came along three years later, but considering founding members Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker had all left by then, it doesn’t really count).
3. Always See Your Face – Love
Seventeen years after playing a prominent role on the High Fidelity soundtrack, Love’s See Your Face turned up again on the soundtrack of 2017’s award-winning coming-of-age comedy-drama, Lady Bird.
2. Most of the Time – Bob Dylan
After a string of commercial and critical disasters, Bob Dylan returned to everyone’s good books with 1989’s Oh Mercy, which included this poignantly painted love ballad about the fallout of a failed relationship.
1. I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) – Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder released his fifteenth album, Talking Book, in 1972, an achievement made all the more extraordinary by the fact he was still only 22 years old at the time. It came at the point that the former child prodigy was beginning to move away from the controlling influence of Motown’s Berry Gordy and carve out his place as an independent, serious artist. It’s an ambitious, gorgeously textured album, with the soulful I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) standing out as one of its highlights.