Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is released at Cineworld very soon – May 3rd, to be exact. So, have you listened to Awesome Mix Vol. 3 yet? Yes, it is now out there, as revealed by writer-director James Gunn and it promises another exhilarating blast of interstellar jukebox tuneage.
One cannot separate the lineage of the Guardians series from its music. The notion of music as a cathartic, healing device has been embedded into the series since the opening scene of the very first movie, and Gunn's eclectic tastes have helped transfigure many an action set-piece and cosmic vista into something far more memorable.
As we prepare to welcome the Guardians back to the screen, here's our handpicked selection of the best soundtrack moments from the series so far.
1. 10CC – I'm Not In Love (Guardians of the Galaxy)
It's easy to forget that the Guardians saga kicked off with a blast of melancholic British soft rock. 10CC's chart-topper crafts exactly the right mood as we're introduced to the young Peter Quill in 1988, later to become Star-Lord (as portrayed by Chris Pratt).
He's on the verge of saying goodbye to his dying mother Meredith (Laura Haddock), an event that changes the course of Peter's relationship with music forever. One alien abduction later and we're on our way as Peter carries his mother's memento with him throughout numerous space-age adventures.
2. Redbone – Come and Get Your Love (Guardians of the Galaxy)
This is the moment where Guardians of the Galaxy learned to stand out from the Marvel pack, and it occurs less than five minutes into the movie. Redbone's soft rock gem enjoyed a meteoric revival after featuring during Guardians' jubilant opening credits sequence in which Peter exuberantly dances his way around the bleak environment of Xandar. Immediately, James Gunn's musical intuition was cemented and we were hooked.
3. David Bowie – Moonage Daydream (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Seven years later and David Bowie's absence still pains us. Fortunately, filmmakers like James Gunn have forever cemented his legacy with iconoclastic deployments of Bowie's formidable back catalogue. The juxtaposition of Bowie's punchy Moonage Daydream (also the title of the recent, acclaimed Bowie doc) and the awe-inspiring sight of the planet Knowhere (actually an enormous, disembodied Celestial head) never fails to take the breath away.
4. The Five Stairsteps – O-O-H Child (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Not all of the songs on Awesome Mix Vol. 1 play out as you expect. At the close of Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter deploys the most Star-Lord-esque distraction ever, singing and dancing to The Five Hairsteps' euphoric O-O-H Child in a bid to distract the diabolical Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). The gambit works and Peter and his fellow Guardians are able to subsequently destroy Ronan with the very power of the treasure he's seeking.
5. The Jackson 5 – I Want You Back (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Dave Bautista's imposing Drax the Destroyer makes an immediate impression in the first Guardians movie. It gets even better and all the more endearing when his supposedly heightened senses fail to alert him to the newly resurrected Groot, dancing jubilantly in a plant pot to The Jackson 5's classic I Want You Back. It proved to be another sign of the movie's wonderful, go-for-broke eccentricity and heart, and led to a resurgent interest in the art of mix-taping.
6. E.L.O. – Mr. Blue Sky (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Electric Light Orchestra's signature track is put to witty and memorable use at the start of the Guardians sequel. As Peter and his allies are grappling with the monstrous Abilisk, our attention is drawn to the foreground where the now-childlike Groot is getting up to all sorts of mischief. It establishes the movie's intent: nothing is off the table and there's nothing quite like a rocking retro soundtrack set to a futuristic landscape.
7. George Harrison – My Sweet Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Once again, James Gunn demonstrates his mastery of tone, applying a particular (and much-loved) track to the most unlikely of contexts. George Harrison's yearning, reverential vocals may be a post-Flower Power, post-Beatles emblem of a lost era, but it matches very effectively with the reveal of Peter's father Ego (Kurt Russell), and his psychedelically-inclined planet.
8. Silver – Wham Bam Shang a Lang (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Prior to the release of Guardians Vol. 2, Silver's soft rock jam was unlikely to have featured on any but the most esoteric pop playlists. However, James Gunn, like Quentin Tarantino, has a wonderful ability to dust off the most obscure tracks and find a vital place for them in his narratives. During the final battle against the now-raging Ego, the Guardians are greeted with back-up from the golden-hued Sovereign race, who emerge from the cosmos to a rollicking, grin-inducing beat.
9. Cat Stevens – Father and Son (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
The final movement of Guardians Vol. 2 breaks our hearts with the death of Peter's adoptive father Yondu (Michael Rooker), the bounty hunter who took the young outcast boy under his wing after Meredith's death. The addition of Cat Stevens' unmistakeable, lilting vocals only serves to make the scene more poignant, crafting a fitting send-off to a likeable character (and a massive Mary Poppins fan, to boot).
10. The Spinners – The Rubberband Man (Avengers: Infinity War)
The Mad Titan known as Thanos (Josh Brolin) is on the hunt for the Infinity Stones and the now-disbanded Avengers must reunite to stop him from obliterating 50% of all life in the universe. This means that, for the first time, the Guardians are integrated into the wider Marvel ensemble, a joyous moment that is cued up by the on-point usage of The Spinners' frenetic 1976 hit (the one moment in Infinity War where the soundtrack segue ways from Alan Silvestri's score into a needle-drop).
Will Awesome Mix Vol. 3 live up to its predecessors? Find out when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits our screens on May 3rd.