Watchmen was a comic book series written by Alan Moore in the 1980s. It was very successful from both a critical and a commercial perspective, so much so that it is still considered to be one of the best comic book series ever released. Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of interest in following up on Watchmen’s success. This resulted in a live-action movie adaptation in 2009, which met with a rather mixed response. On the one hand, it was very stylish; on the other hand, it lacked the smartness of its source material. Regardless, the movie had an excellent soundtrack that contained songs from both the relevant period and more recent times.
12. “Ride of the Valkyries” – Budapest Symphony Orchestra
“Ride of the Valkyries” is one of the most famous pieces of music ever made. In fact, it has been so well-known for such a long period of time that some people might be more familiar with it because of Apocalypse Now than because of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Indeed, the use of “Ride of the Valkyries” in Watchmen is a clear reference to said movie.
11. “Pruit Igoe” and “Prophecies” – Philip Glass
Both “Pruit Igoe” and “Prophecies” come from an experimental movie called Koyaanisqatsi that came out in 1982. Some people might want to dismiss them on that basis. However, it should be remembered that Koyaanisqatsi earned its place in the National Film Registry. The movie’s music is notable because of its minimalism, which made it no less excellent.
10. “Desolation Row” – My Chemical Romance
“Desolation Row” is a Bob Dylan song that is notable for a number of reasons. For example, it is very long at 11 minutes. Similarly, it makes excellent use of surreal lyrics. My Chemical Romance’s cover of the song is quite good in its own right. Unfortunately, it loses out because every single one of its competitors is notable.
9. “I’m Your Boogie Man” – KC and the Sunshine Band
“I’m Your Boogie Man” came out in the 1970s. As such, it is very useful for evoking said decade. The titular character is a positive figure. However, the context in which the song was used meant that there was a bit of wordplay as well. After all, “Boogie Man” is pronounced the same way as “boogeyman,” which sums up the Comedian’s not so comedic career.
8. “You’re My Thrill” – Billie Holiday
“You’re My Thrill” is one of those songs that have been popular for decades and decades, thus resulting in a wide range of covers by a wide range of artists. There doesn’t seem to have been any major covers of the song in the 2020s so far, but it says a lot that there were apparently five major covers of the song in just the 2010s. This cover was done by Billie Holiday in 1950, which is very well-known in its own right for excellent reasons.
7. “Me and Bobby McGee” – Janis Joplin
The Janis Joplin cover of “Me and Bobby McGee” is legendary. For context, it didn’t come out until after the singer-songwriter had been found dead in her hotel room in October of 1970. Even so, it rose to the top of the U.S. charts, thus making it the second posthumous release to earn that honor in the United States.
6. “Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen
“Hallelujah” was a Leonard Cohen song that came out in 1984. It didn’t receive much interest at the time. However, “Hallelujah” proceeded to become more and more famous over time, with the result that there are now more than 300 versions of the song that can be found out there. A lot of those versions are very enjoyable in their own right. Still, none of them would have been possible without Leonard Cohen’s original.
5. “Pirate Jenny” – Nina Simone
“Pirate Jenny” is one of the songs chosen because of its influence on the comic book series. For those who are curious, the Watchmen setting ran with the idea that superhero comics never caught on because they weren’t quite as interesting when there were real superheroes running around. Instead, pirate comics replaced superhero comics in that role, as shown by the Black Freighter story within the story. “Pirate Jenny” was one of the inspirations for that. Furthermore, Nina Simone’s take on the song is one of the best ones ever made.
4. “Unforgettable” – Nat King Cole
“Unforgettable” was written by Irving Gordon in 1951. It has been recorded by a wide range of artists in the subsequent decades. Even so, the best-known version would be the one by Nat King Cole, which can claim the honor of being first and foremost.
3. “All Along the Watchtower” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
“All Along the Watchtower” is another song that was chosen because of its influence on the comic book series. In fact, Alan Moore outright wrote the scene so that it would fit the song’s lyrics. Something that was carried over to the movie’s take on the same scene. Having said that, “All Along the Watchtower” is no less excellent because of that.
2. “The Sound of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel
As strange as it sounds, “The Sound of Silence” and the rest of the studio album that it was on met with initial failure, so much so that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel broke up because of it. Since then, it has gone from success to success, thus making it one of the true classics of folk rock.
1. “The Times They Are a-Changin” – Bob Dylan
This is the song that sees use at the start of the Watchmen movie. It shows the changes that the titular superheroes have experienced over time. Furthermore, it makes it clear that the murder of the Comedian means that another change is coming upon them. The use of the song is particularly poignant when one remembers that it is the protest song for a lot of people, meaning that it embodies a sense of hope for the future. Something that drives on more than one character in the story.