In a genre that increasingly gets accused of being awfully samey, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy certainly stood out from the crowd. Part of this might have to do with it probably being the only film in existence that is a space adventure featuring a talking raccoon with a penchant for automatic weapons and a living tree that can only communicate by telling you its name. A larger, and more profound part though, was played by the film’s incredible foot-tapping soundtrack.
Actually, soundtrack is far too simple a description as writer/director James Gunn wove a selection of both classic and little known 1970s/1980s pop/rock/blues anthems into the very tapestry of the film. Awesome Mix Vol.1 actually existed as part of the narrative in the form of a mixtape created by hero Peter Quill’s mom for him to listen to on his walkman before he was abducted by aliens 30 years ago on the night that she passed away. Besides for offering some truly amazing (now often mimicked) needle-drops for Gunn to stage the action around, it actually offered up an emotional hook to proceedings. It was also really weird, as Gunn would have pointed out to him.
The filmmaker revealed to Rolling Stone that while making the film, a few Marvel Studios employees noted that “Nobody is going to want to hear this music.” One ooga-chaka amazing trailer later though thanks to Blue Suede’s “Hooked On a Feeling” and suddenly everybody wanted to hear this music. Just as Guardians of the Galaxy was a record-breaking box office smash hit itself, so too “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” would go on hit the #1 spot on the US Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first soundtrack album in history consisting entirely of previously released songs to do so. It’s been certified platinum having sold over 1 million copies in the US alone.