The Trainspotting Soundtrack is iconic and the movie is a dark, drug-fueled instant classic with a massive fanbase. Not only is this among the best film soundtracks ever put together, but it was recognized by both Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. If those two august publications seem like polar opposites, it’s because they are, yet they easily agreed that this music was one of the best movie scores of all time. When you’re ready for a wild ride with songs spanning centuries from the classical era to the mid-90s, all you need to do is queue this playlist. Today we’re ranking all the songs from the Trainspotting Soundtrack.
20. For What You Dream Of by Bedrock ft. KYO
For What You Dream Of was originally released by Bedrock on Stress Records. This excellent prog house song features KYO and first dropped in 1993, three years before Trainspotting came out. While the original album was generally a success, this song as a part of the Trainspotting Soundtrack went triple platinum in the UK and gold in the US.
19. Statuesque by Sleeper
Statuesque was the last single of the four that Sleeper released for the album The It Girl. This song was featured in a vital scene near the end of the movie and included on both this and the Trainspotting #2 soundtracks. In 1996 Statuesque charted in the top twenty-five of the Scotland and UK singles.
18. Herzlich Tut Mich Verlangen by Bach
Though there is no question that Johann Sebastian Bach was among the most famous classical music composers of all time, Herlich Tut Mich Verangen is not his best-known work. In fact, of the two classical pieces in Trainspotting, Carmen Suite Number 2 is much more recognizable. Nevertheless, it bears noting that there are no ‘bad’ songs on this album. As a whole, the Trainspotting Soundtrack is a work of art.
17. Perfect Day by Lou Reed
Perfect Day by Lou Reed was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson. Considering that Bowie also helped compose at least one other song on this album it’s no surprise that there’s a connection there. However, regardless of whether or not Bowie had a hand in getting this song onto the Trainspotting Soundtrack, it is an outstanding fit for the movie and a worthy inclusion.
16. Sing by Blur
Sing by Blur is a song about loss. The sense of ennui and dissociation from life and its joys is pervasive and well expressed. Originally this song was released on the album Leisure in 1991, and in the half-a-decade, between then and Trainspotting both Blur and this particular tune gained a significant number of fans.
15. A Final Hit by Leftfield
English electronic duo Leftfield released A Final Hit on A Final Hit – The Greatest Hits in may of 2005. Every song on the album was one of the pair’s singles and each had a matching music video. Many of the songs from this album were on soundtracks, but none is more well-known than the title track thanks to Trainspotting.
14. Atomic by Sleeper
Sleeper, like Damon Albarn and Iggy Pop, appears twice on this superb soundtrack. Atomic is a remake of an earlier Blondie song by the same name. CHoosing Sleeper for this reinterpretation was much more in keeping with the feel of the film, and it makes for an excellent addition to the Trainspotting Soundtrack.
13. Deep Blue Day by Brian Eno
Sometimes called the Godfather of Ambient Music, Brian Eno’s Deep Blue day is a marvelous melody. Intriguingly, Brian is also known for his contributions to the more raucous pop, rock, and electronica genres, yet he considers himself an ‘anti-musician’. “I can’t play any instruments in any technically viable sense at all,” he told Rolling Stone in 1974, “And it’s one of my strengths, I think, actually. Simply because I believe technique is as much a barrier as a way of opening something up.”
12. Think About The Way by Ice MC
Think About The Way was released by Ice MC on the 1994 album Ice’n’Green. The Italy-based English rapper made four versions of the song for that album, though only one copy of TATW appears on the Trainspotting Soundtrack. This popular song was remixed in 2002, in 2007 by Frisco vs ICE MC, and in 2009 by Gigi Barocco vs ICE MC and in 2012 Arash created a musical adaptation of the song called “She Makes Me Go” with all-new lyrics.
11. 2:1 by Elastica
The first appearance of 2:1 was in the movie Trainspotting. A year later Elastica would rerelease the song on their self-titled album. The song is all about staying strong in the face of adversity although as the lyrics say, “Keeping a brave face – In circumstances – Is impossible”
10. Temptation by Heaven 17
Temptation by Heaven 17 is one of two tracks that share the name on this remarkable soundtrack. Titles aside, they are very different pieces of music, though both are incredible in their own ways. This song was performed by Heaven 17 and featured over a decade prior on the album Now That’s What I Call Music in 1983.
9. Temptation by New Order
Temptation by New Order is a different song from the one listed above. They do not share lyrics or performers. Moreover, this Temptation came out even sooner in 1981 on the album 24 Hour party people.
8. Dark and Long (Dark Train) by Underworld
Underworlds’ Dark and Long came out on the album Dubnobasswithmyheadman not long before Trainspotting. However, the original album features a slightly different version of the song. The remix as it appears on the Trainspotting Soundtrack is much more famous.
7. Mile End by Pulp
Mile End is a beautifully hopeless song about hitting rock bottom. The singer talks about being homeless and breaking into an abandoned building or apartment just to have a place to sleep. Unfortunately, it’s based on a true story and describes where two of the song’s writers, Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey were forced to live in 1989. As visceral and upsetting as the verbal imagery, the worst is that it comes from a place of truth.
6. Nightclubbing by Iggy Pop
Nightclubbing is another of the ingenious songs written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop for his debut album The Idiot. The vocal delivery has led to occasional speculation about whether Lou Reed sang for the song, but he did not. Although it’s rarely discussed, Pop and Bowie worked together for years and had an intimate relationship. Though neither identified as gay, both were known bisexuals. Bowie helped Iggy Pop rise to fame during his time with The Stooges and Pop was one of the influences that helped create Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust character. Both of the songs Iggy Pop contributed to the Trainspotting Soundtrack were part of their brilliant, dynamic, mutual collaboration.
5. Closet Romantic by Damon Albarn
Closet Romantic from Damon Albarn is a pop retro sound with an upbeat nineteen-sixties feel. You’d almost expect to hear this song in a sitcom. The only lyrics in this weird but fantastic-tune are the names of several James Bond Movies. However, you may know the singer’s name from his other, more famous work. As Indie Shuffle says, “The main vocalist behind the Gorillaz is Damon Albarn. Damon is best known for his work as the lead singer of Blur. They were basically responsible for making Britpop happen. He later joined forces with comic artist and writer, Jamie Hewlett to form Gorillaz.”
4. Born Slippy .NUXX by Underworld
If you recognize one song from the Trainspotting Soundtrack instantly, but you can’t put a finger on its name, it’s this one. Born Slippy is a surprise and delight to the ears of its listeners. The smooth, almost zen keyboard intro combined with rolling spoken lyrics should not work, but it couldn’t have come out better. Then the percussion picks up and takes over with a dance mix feel that carries you through a whole story in a single song.
3. Trainspotting by Primal Scream
Scottish rock band Primal Scream performed the title track named after the movie Trainspotting. Naturally, we had to include this song in the top three. Not only is this a masterful piece of music, but it fits its’ name and the movie where so many title tracks that came before or after failed to embrace.
2. Carmen Suite No.2 by Georges Bizet
George Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 2 is one of the most identifiable pieces of classical music ever to exist. However, as the style became less popular in the late 1900s fewer people recognized even the most beloved and often played songs. The use of this song in Trainspotting brought Bizet’s work to millions of music-loving moviegoers who hadn’t been exposed to it before.
1. Lust For Life by Iggy Pop
Lust for Life is the title track off of Iggy Pop’s September 1977 album. The song, which he wrote with David Bowie was an instant hit. The upbeat and delightfully vibrant tune is fun to hear and often replayed and sampled. Though its most famous screen appearance will likely always be Trainspotting, the song was most recently used in a 2021 episode of Kamikaze. According to Far Out Magazine, the song was inspired by a station identification sound on the TV and was originally written on the ukelele. “On hearing the electronic beeping for what must have felt like the thousandth time, Bowie stood up suddenly, grabbed his son Duncan’s ukulele, and began playing the same staccato rhythm. Soon, the two friends had shaped the riff into something with a solid structure. “Call this one ‘Lust for Life’,” Bowie told Iggy.”
Whether you listen to the album in its original order or ranked by best songs, everyone should hear the Trainspotting Soundtrack at least once. This film and the music that fills it are significant milestones in film and music history. Very few soundtracks reach this level of excellence.