Was the 'Cruel Intentions' Soundtrack the Best of 1999?

A look back at how it stacks up as the film returns to theaters

March 6, 2019

For one week only, Cruel Intentions is returning to theaters to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary. The dramatic teen drama filled with lust and lies officially turned two decades old on Monday, and on March 22nd it's back on the big screen for one more run.

Sarah Michelle GellarRyan PhillippeReese Witherspoon, and Selma Blair star in the cult classic that helped define teen style at the time. It would debut at number two at the box office upon release, and has only gained momentum and status through years of cable assistance and the soaring careers of the film's young stars. The scheming socialites and the dangerous dynamics of Cruel Intentions made it a perfect fit for the era, dripping with sex and intrigue and always in fashion.

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As people share their memories of the film, we thought perhaps the "greatest victory" of Cruel Intentions was the epic soundtrack that came along with it. Released days after the movie debuted in theaters, it stands as maybe the best of the year, and possibly one of the strongest of the decade.

It's impossible to discuss without first bringing up The Verve. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" will forever be tied to the film. The strings creeping in as Kathryn loses it at the funeral. The smash and swell of the drums as she discovers everyone reading Sebastian's journal. It's a perfect marriage of music and movie, magnifying an already popular song and tying it to a moment.

But beyond Bittersweet, there's still an outstanding album worth of songs you forgot were a part of the film. From the first few frames with Placebo's "Every You Every Me" blaring from Sebastian's car, to the drive with Annette as Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" provides the backdrop, Cruel Intentions had a soundtrack filled with amazing music that was actually in the fabric of the film. There's also music from Blur, Marcy's Playground, and more, but the song that still cuts deep is from the Counting Crows. The haunting piano of "Colorblind" as Reese Witherspoon emerges from the escalator still gets us more emotional than we should be. It's another example of the power of a perfect piece of music. 

Before we hand over the crown to Cruel Intentions as the best soundtrack of that year, it's worth looking at some of the others that made 1999 unforgettable. From a Will Smith flop to a bullet-bending masterpiece, these are some of our favorite soundtracks from 1999.

Wild Wild West 

Will Smith was the king of the summer box office, until he wasn't. Wild Wild West was a disappointment, but the combo of Will Smith, Dru Hill, and Kool Moe Dee still slaps. The Stevie Wonder sampler was one of songs bigger than the film, with Enrique Iglesias, Eminem, and Lil' Bow Wow helping the soundtrack go double platinum.

Songs from Dawson's Creek

Okay, so we have some feelings and a soft spot for teen drama. The Paula Cole theme is the one you remember, but Sophie B. HawkinsJessica Simpson, and Sixpence None the Richer helped make this a perfect moody companion piece to the show.

The Matrix

That bassline from the lobby scene still pops in our head when we're about to do something cool. As adventurous as The Matrix was, the music was also next level with some of our favorite rock anthems and dangerous dance songs. 

Next Friday

The sequel hasn't aged as well as the original, but the soundtrack stays strong for Next Friday. Led by Ice Cube's own club banger "You Can Do It" and featuring some '99 Hip Hop heavyweights, the album is still a nice slice of OG awesomeness.

All are perfect in their own way, but Cruel Intentions remains the ultimate 1999 mood, feeling a little fresh and a little angsty, but always with a dash of melancholy. That's how we got down, and that's what we'll always remember.

You can pre-order your tickets now to the 20th Anniversary Edition of Cruel Intentions. Go here for more details.