Music can elevate a film to great effect and pack an emotional punch, and there are few better examples of that power than Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Using the “Awesome Mixtape” as a plot device — emotionally linking Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill to his long-dead mother — the film justified its use of rockin’ ’70s tunes without falling into gimmickry. Director James Gunn’s hotly anticipated sequel “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” arriving in theaters May 5, aims to do the same with its “Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2.”
Despite everything we’ve seen in the marketing for the film, it’s yet to be revealed what songs are included on the “Vol. 2” soundtrack. To help ease the wait, CBR has concocted its own wish list of sorts, compiling 10 classic ’70s and ’80s tracks that could be used to great effect in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Stories, “Brother Louie”
What better song to kick off the “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel than the intro for “Louie”? In all seriousness, Stories’ 1973 cover of the Hot Chocolate song practically screams Star-Lord with its suave tone and screeching vocals, evoking a hero that shouldn’t be messed with, while also carrying a comedic undertone thanks to its recent use on the award-winning FX comedy.
Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run”
If there’ one thing the “Guardians” franchises oozes, it’s pure joy, so why not use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” to capture that essence? One of the most beloved rock songs of all time, “Born to Run” carries a sense of adventure and freedom with its music and lyrics, perfect for the Guardians of the Galaxy, and suitable for one of the film’s early tracks. It could even establish the team as “on the run” from the Ravagers.
Dire Straits, “Sultans of Swing”
The Guardians are a rag-tag band, and “Sultans of Swing” captures that with its lyrics that chronicle the exploits of a rock band. Perhaps the best-known Dire Straits song, “Sultans of Swing” is one of those classic ’70s tunes that any movie would be lucky to have on its soundtrack. Plus, its now-classic, lengthy solo from rock legend David Knopfler lends itself to a solid fight scene, making this track perfect for a stand-off between the Guardians and whatever foes they might encounter.
The Honeydrippers, “Sea of Love”
One of the core aspects of the “Guardians” sequel is the relationship between Star-Lord and his father Ego, played by Kurt Russell. A song like “Sea of Love” might be a little on the nose, sure, but its classic use as a love song could be spun on its head a little by being reframed to represent the relationship between a son and his absent father. We’ve already seen a Robert Plant song used to great effect in the “Thor: Ragnarok” trailer, so why can’t Marvel double-dip with his cover of this R&B classic in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”?
Harry Nilsson, “Without You”
On the same note as “Sea of Love,” a classic love ballad like “Without You” — which has seen its use in a fair share of films, perhaps most notably in 1995’s “Casino” — could pack a real emotional punch in “Vol. 2,” especially if it’s used in the context of Star-Lord and his absent father. There’s also the potential for romance (perhaps building on the spark between Star-Lord and Gamora), so a song like “Without You” could inject comedy with its melodramatic nature while still serving as a solid love song in its own right.
To be honest, we’re shocked “Magic” by Pilot wasn’t included on the “Doctor Strange” soundtrack (oh, the missed potential), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Although the song is, yes, about love, it could be used in a far more groovy literal sense in a scene that actually involves magic, or something mystical in nature. Perhaps when Ego the Living Planet’s abilities are revealed, “Magic” could be employed in a moment that really captures that power.
The Cars, “Bye Bye Love”
“Bye Bye Love” by the Cars is a bit of a mixed bag. You’d think it’s a joyous song because of its energetic synth and rockin’ vocals from music legend Ric Ocasek, but when you look closer at the lyrics, it seems more about a breakup, as the name suggests. This track could be used to great effect at the start of the third act, when we assume things aren’t going so well for the Guardians. The song is perfect because it’s not too sad for “Guardians,” thanks to its oozing ’70s rock nature.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “American Girl”
We assume there will be a moment in the film when Star-Lord reflects on his deceased mother, and a way to get that across without being too sappy would be with a song like “American Girl” to add a little joy. The energetic rhythm guitar and pop vocals from Tom Petty could certainly lend itself to a retro, nostalgia reflection on what Star-Lord’s lost, while still serving as a symbol of the bright memory of our protagonist’s past on Earth.
Queen, “Flash’s Theme”
OK, this one’s a bit of a stretch. As the name suggests, “Flash’s Theme” was used as the title song for 1980’s “Flash Gordon,” but it’s such a good song by Queen that we can’t help but beg for its inclusion in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Its cosmic vibe and thunderous rock riff could make for good use in the latter part of the third act, when we imagine the tide turns in favor of our heroes. Plus, it’s just really cool.
The Eagles, “One of These Nights”
A perfect way to close out the sequel would be The Eagles’ seminal 1975 hit “One of These Nights,” whose infectious, disco- and blues-influenced lead guitar and hopeful lyrics combine to create a sense of mystery and adventure. It would be fitting for when Guardians embark on their next exploits, and head off into the great unknown. It’s the kind of song that would make for a solid end-credits piece, packed with energy, sultriness and pure rock ‘n’ roll.
Are there any songs on our list you think we missed?
Written and directed by James Gunn, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” stars Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Glenn Close as Irani Rael and Kurt Russell as Ego.