From “Creep” to “Badlands,” Let’s Rank the Songs of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’
Music is an important part of storytelling to me. It’s one of my favorite things about creating art. When in doubt, I’m writing to music. In my own screenplays, music plays a huge part in how I breakdown a scene. James Gunn’s filmography is beautiful because you can tell the tone of his scenes based on the music in them. And as I have previously written, I think that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has the best soundtrack yet.
That doesn’t make it easy to break down each song and explain why it’s better than another. I love them all for very different reasons. And as a music snob in my own way, it means that even if I do love this soundtrack very much, I can’t rank them based on which songs I think are the best of the soundtrack. Some choices are personal favorites, and some are simply based on how they work in the movie as a whole.
Now, I will apologize up front: This gets emotional. Mainly because when I talk about music, I just love to share my thoughts on why these songs mean so much to me. Isn’t that what music is all about anyway? Sharing songs with others and making a community from it? So I share a lot of the personal emotions tied to these songs as well as their connections to the Guardians throughout.
What’s important to remember, though, is that my list doesn’t have to define how you view this soundtrack and, in fact, my list may change as I do. That’s the beauty of music! Music is subjective. So if you don’t like my choice in the ranking, that’s okay! You can still have your own feelings about which song belongs where. But this is where I would rank each song from the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 soundtrack and why.
17. “Poor Girl,” X
A song that is definitely one I would have on my driving playlist (if I still had a car), “Poor Girl” by X is very much a product of the ’80s punk scene. It is a marriage between beautiful lyrics and an addictive guitar line, and it just a fun song to listen to and head bang along. What’s telling about this soundtrack as a whole is that this is the last song on my ranking.
Every song is beautiful and if I was lost in my own head a little bit more, this might have been significantly higher on my ranking because, as I said, music changes as we do and as our moods shift. But “Poor Girl” is a fun listen. It just isn’t better than the rest of the soundtrack.
16. “Koinu No Carnival,” EHAMIC
Now, listening to “Koinu no Carnival” while working out sounds like the perfect thing to do. And that’s probably where I would listen to it—and only there. It’s not that I don’t like this song, it’s just the one I didn’t know prior to seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and I’m still learning my feelings towards it. For someone like me, a lot of that comes down to songs I can run to and songs I listen to when I’m on the subway. This is on the running side of things and would be fun to rock out to.
In the movie, “Koinu no Carnival” brings the Guardians into a world they don’t understand and it’s the only thing connecting the animals that the High Evolutionary abused to something the Guardians could understand. It was a nice nod to how the Guardians use music to communicate as well.
15. “In the Meantime,” Spacehog
You can often hear time periods in songs. Meaning that they are often a product of their time and it is easily recognizable when you’re listening to it. So the minute “In the Meantime” played in the movie, whether or not you know who Spacehog is, you can figure out that this is a ’90s song. Which is also, sadly, why it is currently back here on the ranking. If this was 2022, it’d be much higher on my list because I was on a ’90s kick after The Batman and its use of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way.” That’s not to say that this song isn’t addicting. It very much is. I’m going to be listening to it on repeat. But it’s just a very specific vibe that I have to be in.
Still, my god is it a beautiful time capsule of ’90s rock and why we still flock to it.
14. “We Care a Lot,” Faith No More
If you couldn’t tell from the baseline that this is an ’80s song, hopefully the music video helps you catch on! “We Care a Lot” by Faith No More is the definition of ’80s rock in the sense that they’re just not doing it like this anymore. The ’80s was a time of angst, big hair, and fighting back against what people thought everything should be, which is why there are so many different genres of music that took over the music scene at this time.
Another song you have to really be in the mood for, “We Care a Lot” is a little less emotional and more just like, thinking about whether or not you wanna wear plaid and fight the system or not. It’s fun, aggressive in that way that is appealing in music, and a great song for the Guardians as a whole—but also one that new audiences should listen to and have fun with.
13. “Crazy on You,” Heart
A classic! I don’t dislike this Heart song, it’s just not my favorite. To show my stone cold support of “Alone,” I just couldn’t, in good conscience, put this any higher on my list. Look, I love front women taking the world by storm. I just think that there are other Heart songs that will always hold my heart (pun intended) more than “Crazy on You.” Again, that’s just my own personal preference with the song because they also have “Barracuda” and, like, come on, how am I supposed to rank that?!
Granted, this is just another example of a classic rock song that is so incredibly good it survives decades. Released in 1975, the song has been clearly beloved and passed on from generation to generation. And now Marvel kids will feel the joy it brought so many. So that’s a good thing!
12. “This Is the Day,” The The
Do you ever watch a music video and just think to yourself “oh, yeah, that’s the ’80s?” Well, that’s “This Is the Day.” This video is very much a prequel to the now famous a-Ha video for “Take On Me.” Personally, I had no strong feelings about this song either way the first time I heard it. Hearing it as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, it’s definitely a banger. And a song that is just sort of fun to listen to in that tuned-out sort of way.
Not that it doesn’t deserve your attention; on the contrary, it’s a song that you can just find a comfort in and relax to. Which is a very big honor for a song because not track on the Guardians soundtrack can be “calming” and The The achieves that in a great way.
11. “San Francisco,” The Mowgli’s
Some songs are the embodiment of joy and that’s where “San Francisco” by the Mowgli’s falls. It’s just happiness in a song. Which is hard to capture because there’s always something people will want to fight about. How people could get angry at a song with lyrics like “I’ve been in love with love and the idea of something binding us together, you know that love is strong enough,” seems impossible to me, but hey, that’s just me! It’s an easy listen, fun to jam out to, and one that you can listen to over and over again—and sometimes that’s all you need!
10. “Reasons,” Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind, & Fire has some hits. Songs like “September” and “Let’s Groove” are classics in their own ways, but “Reasons” is just a song where you can picture your dream scenario for listening to it. Sometimes songs soothe you, other times they transport you. And transporting me to the most relaxing lounge area with a beautiful coat, a warm drink, and great atmosphere is what “Reasons” does. Maybe it’s a comfort thing. I grew up listening to Earth, Wind, & Fire because they’re one of my mom’s favorite bands. But it’s just a song that hits that calming button for me.
9. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are iconic for a reason. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” is not a song where I really have to explain why I like it. It’s just great and we all know and love it because of that. It’s why when Flash Thompson shows up in Spider-Man: No Way Home yelling “No. Sleep. Til BOSTON,” we all laugh. It’s just that ingrained in our cultural music understanding. But it’s this high up on my list because of how it is used in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Rocket Raccoon is saved by the Guardians and their dedication to him. It leads to Rocket fighting alongside his chosen family to save all the animals and creatures that the High Evolutionary is harming. That hallway fight scene is not only a staple of Marvel movies, but also why the Guardians are our favorites, and it all comes together with this song.
8. “I Will Dare,” The Replacements
A track you have probably heard in an indie movie, “I Will Dare” by The Replacements is one of those songs that has a very specific vibe. If James Gunn was a cool guy in a record store talking for 10 full minutes about the cultural impact of this album with a plaid shirt on, I’d be like, “yes, that’s a movie I’ve seen.” That’s just the feeling this song instantly evokes. And unfortunately for every song ranked below this one, that’s very much something I love in a song.
7. “Since You Been Gone,” Rainbow
Not to sound like a broken record, but they really are just not making music like this anymore. I know that’s kind of the deal with music—that it is an ever-evolving art form—but man, there’s nothing quite like a supergroup writing a hardcore rock ballad that just gets stuck in your head. And that’s “Since You Been Gone” by Rainbow. Just when you think that it has left you, you’re thrown back in with the chorus and you can’t stop listening to it.
It’s theatrical and fun, and there’s just something so exciting about listening to it. It does have that tone to it that you kind of need to be in a pretty uplifting mood to listen to, but “Since You Been Gone” is a great rock song and one that really worked for the movie. And I hope this means a bunch of people start singing it at karaoke now.
6. “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” Alice Cooper
If you asked me to define what I love about music, I’d have to say that slow hook transitioning into a powerful musical note/belting moment really just pulls me in and refuses to let me go. And man, does Alice Cooper’s rendition of “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” have it. In the context of Guardians 3? I’m sobbing. Listening to this song? I’m ready to take on the world and I don’t care what I have to do to win. But it’s just so good, and when it really drops into the crux of the song? Nothing better than feeling that beat drop.
5. “Come and Get Your Love,” Redbone
Some songs have now become synonymous with the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and that’s sort of where “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone has found its new wave of success. Not that it needed it; this is a classic for good reason. When the first Guardians movie introduced a new generation of fans to the song, it gave them the opportunity to take it as their own, which is a good thing even if music snobs get angry over how fans learn about certain bands and songs.
I was lucky in that I grew up with a father who loves classic rock, so I knew who Redbone was before, but so many new fans are singing “Come and Get Your Love” because of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I just think that’s really fun. Calling back to it in the credits for Guardians 3 was a nice touch.
4. “Do You Realize??,” The Flaming Lips
Let me set the scene for you: I was a 12-year-old kid watching 50 First Dates in 2004. I heard this song in that movie and I was obsessed. But this is prior to the days of Googling lyrics and instantly finding what you want. This was back in the Limewire of it all, where you’d download a song and it might not even be the song you’re looking for. And even then, no one seemed to know what this song was. For years I was struggling to find it—because I didn’t yet know that bands and song names were in the credits and no one in my family knew how obsessed I’d become.
The day that I did learn that the Flaming Lips wrote this song, “Do You Realize??,” and I could finally add it to my playlists ushered in a love that has not left. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking; despite its upbeat notes, one of the lyrics is literally “Everyone you know someday will die,” and that’s so emotional and instantly brings tears to my eyes. I love this song—a lot—and hearing it in a movie dedicated to one of my favorite Marvel heroes just fully broke me as a person, and I need everyone to love this Flaming Lips song like I do.
3. “Dog Days Are Over,” Florence + The Machine
Look, I love Florence Welch. I love this song. But man, are the emotions running high when this song drops in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. After all the pain our team has been through and all the upset, there are few songs that really could capture the emotional arc we’ve been on. But one song can bring us all together and make us want to jump and scream and sing along and it’s this. When Nebula lets go and starts dancing to “Dog Days Are Over,” I feel that in my soul. And not in a joking way. I truly understand that feeling because I also have had that experience with a Florence + The Machine song.
Welch has that power in her voice and it just moves you to dance, express your emotions, and feel everything you’ve kept down. So when the Zune that Peter Quill gave to Rocket scrolls to the 2000s and this is the first song that Rocket listens to? Just … so cathartic and emotional.
2. “Creep (Acoustic),” Radiohead
A lot of people have a personal connection to this song. For me, “Creep” was my introduction to Radiohead, which would go on to become one of my favorite bands of all time. While my favorite of their songs is “Fake Plastic Trees,” my father refused to listen to me and just kept loving “Creep” until the day he died. So I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for it for so many reasons. And now it will be even more special to me because of Rocket Raccoon singing along and finding his own connection to it.
On the one hand, I cried when it started because I knew that my father would have not only loved this movie, but also loved that Rocket sang along to it. We would have shared that joy and it would have been a moment I cherished. Instead, the pain Rocket feels was something I was feeling too because I was missing out on that moment with my dad. It’s such a beautiful start to Guardians 3, something I will hold dear to my heart forever, and the fact that it’s the acoustic version of “Creep” just makes it that much sweeter.
1. “Badlands,” Bruce Springsteen
Not to already upset my brother who loves Bruce Springsteen very much, but my god, did I pick an incredibly hot performance of this song. The Boss is hot! What can I say! My all-time favorite Springsteen song is “Atlantic City” off the album Nebraska. That song is, at its core, incredibly depressing, so he rarely sings it live. My second favorite, though? “Badlands” off Darkness on the Edge of Town. Which Springsteen plays at every single show and I have heard live too many times to count.
That doesn’t take away the magic for me. When I hear the music start, I know that I’m going to be transported into a car, rocking out with my brother or scream-singing it at karaoke with my friends. But now I will always have the minute that I heard this song start in the credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and I screamed in the middle of a screening like a little kid. I sat in the back of the theater, journalists around me waiting for the other end-credits scene, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to quietly listen to “Badlands.” I started rocking out, singing along, and I looked down the row to see friends playing air guitar or drums, and it is one of those experiences that I will always remember.
James Gunn using the Boss to close out his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy is just so perfect, I can’t even imagine why I didn’t think about it before.
Now that you’ve read all my feelings about music and the songs from the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 soundtrack, what is your ranking? Which song would end up in your number one spot? Let us know in the comments below!
(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
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