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Music is more closely associated with Guardians of the Galaxy than any other currently-running major franchise, and it's with good reason. Not only do classic '1970s and '80s songs play an important part in the backstory of one of the main characters, but both Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are jam-packed with amazing, beautiful, funny, and dramatic music moments. To date we've seen 22 of these sequences across both movies, but today we ask a specific question: which of these are the true cream of the crop?
We've weighed all of the music moments in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies thus far against each other, and what you'll find below is our rankings of the best of the bunch. Read on to find our selections!
9. "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra
Marvel Studios movies are regularly lauded for their energy and sense of fun -- and James Gunn's opening credits sequence for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is really that in a nutshell. While your standard blockbuster would focus all of its attention on the titular team's battle against an inter-dimensional space creature, Gunn's feature breaks that particular mold by instead letting Baby Groot have the spotlight and dance his way through "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra. It's certainly a ridiculous and unforgettable way to open a comic book, but as we'll discuss later, that's something that this series is particularly good at...
8. "Hooked On A Feeling" by Blue Swede
As far as the history of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise goes, "Hooked On A Feeling" by Blue Swede is unquestionably the most important, as it was the track that initially got everyone's attention in the blockbusters' trailers. It also happens to be part of a fantastic sequence in James Gunn's first Marvel title. It proves fantastic and wonderfully jarring background music as Peter, Gamora, Rocket and Groot first enter the Kyln, but more significantly it's used to highlight the importance of music to Peter-- who demands a guard treat his cassette player with respect. It's legitimately the first moment in the franchise where we see the adult hero get emotional, and while it ends with him being abused to comedic effect, it still holds weight.
7. "O-O-H Child" by The Five Stairsteps
Before Guardians of the Galaxy's arrival on the scene, it would have been crazy to think of "O-O-H Child" by The Five Stairsteps scoring the final hero vs. villain showdown in a comic book movie blockbuster... but that's just how James Gunn rolls. The song plays after Ronan's ship, the Dark Aster, crash lands on Xandar, and while at first it seems like it's a soundtrack of disaster and doom, Peter uses it to flip the script. He starts dancing and singing along to the faintly-playing soul track, and it proves to be the perfect distraction as Rocket repairs the Hadron Enforcer. Star-Lord challenging Ronan to a dance-off is one of the unique moments that makes Guardians of the Galaxy such a special feature, and it certainly stands out as one of the funniest moments in the series thus far.
6. "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5
James Gunn shows an impressive amount of restraint in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 by not just jamming Baby Groot down audiences' throats at every turn, because the truth of the matter is that the filmmaker got everyone hook, line, and sinker with the infantilized sequoia during the post-credits scene of the first Guardians. While the alien tree isn't quite as mobile in the sequence as he is in the aforementioned ELO opening credits from Vol. 2, he still manages to boogie hard listening to "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5, and gets a comedic beat with Drax to boot. Knowing that Gunn provided the motion reference for Baby Groot's dance moves makes this sequence that much more enjoyable, but truly by itself it stands out as one of the best Marvel Studios end-of-feature treats to date.
5. "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac
Only two songs so far in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies have gotten double-plays, and while we'll discuss the other one in a bit, the first we're focusing on is "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac. The track first plays in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Peter, Gamora, and Drax leave Rocket, Groot, and Nebula to go to Ego's planet, and then comes back during the big third act battle as the family reunites. In case it isn't clear, James Gunn uses the song to illustrate the team as song's titular chain -- and while it's a touch broken for a good portion of the movie, the bond between the members of the eponymous group is proven unbreakable as they prepare to take on Ego together at the end. The writer/director has said that this particular piece of music is really all "about the Guardians," and it's not hard at all to see what he means.
4. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye
Unable to cope with the loss of his mother, Peter Quill waited 26 years to open his final gift from her... but the first track of Awesome Mix Vol. 2 firmly establishes Meredith Quill as a certifiable mixtape genius. Marvin Gaye's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," featuring the beautiful voice of Tammi Terrell, is a song all about the incredible power of love and how nothing can keep apart two people who truly care about each other... and it's exactly the song that Peter needs to hear after his final showdown with Ronan and his emotional revelation. The song also earns some bonus points because the lyrics ultimately define the bond between the Guardians of the Galaxy members as well.
3. "Brandy" by Looking Glass
Music is obviously an integral part of the entire Guardians of the Galaxy brand (hence the existence of this list), but "Brandy" by Looking Glass gets significant placement because it's the only track that gets a full-blown lyrical breakdown. Not only does the song make fantastic intro music for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 -- following Ego and Meredith as they drive around in 1980 -- but it also ultimately becomes incredibly important when Ego quotes the story of the sailor who can never leave the sea behind. It's this explanation for why he does what he does that has a huge part in selling Peter to his side, and that alone pushes it to its high rank on this list -- as does its place during the big reveal that it was Ego who gave Meredith brain cancer.
2. "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens
Yondu's sacrifice and funeral at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are more than enough to have any mature, heart-carrying audience member shedding tears -- but it's the use of "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens that takes this sequence to a whole other level. While something like Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle" would have been far too on the nose, James Gunn makes beautiful and elegant use of a song about a dad passing on life advice to his child just as Peter is fully accepting the reality of who his father truly was. It's certainly a somber note on which to end a big colorful blockbuster, but that just makes it all the more memorable and impressive.
1. "Come And Get Your Love" by Redbone
When you think about it, it's perhaps not great that the best music moment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series is the second scene of the whole shebang, following Peter as he dances around Morag in the first movie... but it's such a perfectly executed sequence that we just had to give it the top spot. Not only does it essentially set the tone for everything that proceeds it -- showcasing Star-Lord as a fun-loving rogue who knows how to get down -- but the lyrics of "Come And Get Your Love" by Redbone really sum up the most important theme in both films: love is out there for you in the universe, and all you need to do is accept and embrace it. Needless to say, it will be a challenge for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to top this one.