Building The Most Awesome Playlist In The Galaxy

We look at some of the stories behind the songs on the celebrated Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack albums and invite you to get in on the act with our very own Awesome Mix

Early last year when the release of Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 was imminent, I started a thread in a Facebook group asking people to predict what classic music might be included in the film. Thanks to a couple of early teaser trailers, all we knew at that point was that Fox On The Run by The Sweet, and Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain were prospects. We’d later get trailers showcasing George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and Flashlight by Parliament, both of which made it into the film as did Come A Little Bit Closer by Jay & The Americans which featured in the SDCC trailer. And of course, thanks to its heavy rotation in the first film’s promotion (as well as featuring in the movie itself), Blue Swede’s Hooked On A Feeling was used again, to evoke nostalgia for a film which itself relies heavily on nostalgia!

Bowie’s In Space

David Bowie, whose Moonage Daydream was used in the first GOTG, would have become the only artist to have songs in both films but the scene in which Suffragette City was used ended up on the cutting room floor. To honour Bowie’s memory, Gunn used the song in a further trailer – although it never made it to the soundtrack album, Awesome Mix Vol.2. However, Bowie almost didn’t end up in either film. Moonage Daydream, which was used when the gang fly into Knowhere spaceport, was only one of three possible songs for that scene, the others being Three Dog Night’s cover of Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not To Come and Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell (whose song Southern Nights was included in the second film).

For Fox Sake

The final track listing to Vol. 2’s Soundtrack

Like Suffragette CityFox On The Run was only used in a trailer but this time it was included on the soundtrack album. It had in fact been a candidate for the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 along with Cheap Trick’s Surrender which memorably played over the closing credits to the second film, giving us our first brief glimpse of Thor: Ragnarok‘s eccentric Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) in full disco-dancing action. Like Fox, another song which made it to the soundtrack album on the back of the trailers alone was Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky which featured on Vol. 1 (the first Disney album to be released on cassette tape since their 2003 album Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic)!

Kiss On My List

So, we started to bandy song titles about, some of which were greeted with applause (my suggestion of Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot went down rather well) while others didn’t hit the mark (Hall & Oates’ Out Of Touch was decried as being “far too GTA: Vice City“). Unfortunately, when the official GOTG2 Set List was revealed, not a single song we’d suggested (and there were quite a few) made it to either the film or the soundtrack album. However, one user did come close by saying they’d be surprised if ELO didn’t get included somewhere. Wild West Hero and Evil Woman were suggested but it was actually Mr Blue Sky which ended up opening the second film to humorous effect. As with Bowie, an ELO song (Living Thing) was due to appear in the first film but ended up being cut. This made getting permission for Mr Blue Sky more difficult and director James Gunn had to appeal directly to Jeff Lynne for his approval. Never Been To Spain by the aforementioned Three Dog Night was also featured in a deleted scene.

You Drive Me Crazy

Interestingly, some of the songs mentioned in that discussion (Hocus Pocus by Focus, Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Radar Love by Golden Earring) ultimately ended up on the soundtrack to another 2017 movie in which music plays a large part. When he was starting to put the soundtrack for Baby Driver together, director Edgar Wright approached his friend Gunn over Twitter to talk soundtracks, in particular, to make sure there was no duplication of tracks, and even acts, across the films. Gunn got dibs on ELO, with Wright snagging Queen (Brighton Rock) but it was Barry White who both directors were interested in. His song Never Gonna Give Ya Up (no, not that one) eventually ended up on Baby Driver’s soundtrack, which is a much more eclectic mix, although with a slight Mod and Soul leaning.

Awesome Mix Vol. 2.5

So once that Facebook conversation started to die down, for fun I decided to gather everyone’s ideas together and collect them in a Spotify playlist. As I added more songs Spotify began to make suggestions of its own, based on the songs I had already added, and this, in turn, inspired me to think up more titles to add. As it happens two songs I thought of myself, Magic by Pilot and She’s Gone by Hall & Oates, were actually on Gunn’s shortlist for the first and second soundtracks, respectively. Over a year later I still regularly listen and add to The Most Awesome Playlist in The Galaxy (catchy, I know, and not at all self-important!). It’s full of that very special kind of power-pop from the mid-70s to early 80s that you might call, if you were being rather mean-spirited, Guilty Pleasures. I hate the phrase myself – if you enjoy it then listen to it and to hell with what anyone thinks – but I think you know what I am talking about.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

So this is where you good readers come in. As I said, this is an ever-growing playlist. I add a song or two to it every few weeks, but have I missed a hidden gem? Have a listen to (and hopefully enjoy) the playlist at the bottom of this article but also think about the songs you would like to see crop up in Guardians Of The Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 3 (if it ever happens). There are no boundaries to what you can recommend (you’ll see that there are acts as diverse as ABBA and Alice Cooper in there) – the only rule is that you can imagine hearing it in a GOTG film!

Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Paul Childs

As well as writing for Den of Geek and Your Truth, Paul also runs Badgers Crossing, a site for ghost stories. He loves the 1980s and thanks to a keen interest in Public Information Films he has never been electrocuted or set himself on fire.