The 2001 Dreamworks hit Shrek has many memorable characteristics that led to its immense fame and popularity, and one of these aspects is its absolutely amazing soundtrack. Shrek is an animated film based on a children’s book by William Steig which has now become a film franchise with four main films and two spin-off movies. The film tells the story of Shrek, an antisocial ogre who, without meaning to, becomes the knight in shining armor that his kingdom needs.


Despite being unconventional for its time, Shrek saw great success upon its release and became a world-famous film franchise because of it. In fact, Shrek’s uniqueness is what made it stand out against other animated films and this includes its indie soundtrack. The first Shrek film has a soundtrack that includes a variety of well-known songs that perfectly fit the ambiance of the film from Smashmouth’s “All-Star” and “I’m a Believer” cover to Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah.” Even the later films have outstanding soundtracks that were pivotal to the films’ success.

Shrek’s Soundtrack Set It Apart From Other Animated Films

Shrek frightens the angry mob of villagers

The reason the Shrek soundtrack is so good is because it is unlike any other animated film of its time. Unlike the classic Disney movie of the late 1990s, Shrek did not have an original score but instead opted for a needle drop soundtrack. Essentially, this means that they used pre-existing music to score the film. Though this decision was different from the norm, it ultimately paid off. The soundtrack may not have been specifically crafted for the film, but it did perfectly fit the scenes and moments throughout the film.

For example, at Shrek’s lowest point, “Hallelujah” plays. Out of context, the song is melancholic and moving, and within the context of Shrek, it’s even more so. Placing these specific songs onto Shrek’s visuals and storytelling only emphasized the emotions evoked by the music. In this way, the film and the soundtrack worked in tandem, despite not being made for each other. This scenario definitely set Shrek apart from its competitors and led to Shrek changing animated movies forever.

Shrek’s Soundtrack Helped Set The Film’s Tone

Shrek bursts from his outhouse in Shrek

The Shrek soundtrack also helped set the tone of the film. Already, Shrek was meant to be different from other fairy tale films. Like the “fairy tale” Shrek is based on, the film was meant to evoke a different kind of fairy tale story that isn’t so seamless or flawless. As a character, Shrek is supposed to be curmudgeonly, rude, and selfish. So, in order to evoke the sort of disobedient, rebel aspect of Shrek, the soundtrack sets the scene by introducing the first scenes of the film alongside “All-Star,” a confident ode to oneself.

Furthermore, the Shrek soundtrack emphasized just how fun the film was. While many Disney movies had a heavy focus on romance, Shrek used its humor to stand out. In this way, the soundtrack evokes the high-energy feeling of the film, along with the emotions being told in the scenes. This idea not only goes for the first Shrek soundtrack but the second as well. “Funkytown” in Shrek 2 not only sets the scene but gives a hint as to the fun energy of the film.

Shrek’s Music Aged Better Than Its Visuals

Shrek and Donkey arrive at Duloc

What makes the Shrek soundtrack stand out today, 22 years later, is how well it aged. The music used in the Shrek film has not only stayed relevant but it is easily linked to Shrek to this day. Although the music existed before the film, it has taken on a new life that has kept it popular and more accessible than a Disney soundtrack might be. In this way, the Shrek soundtrack has aged better than its competitors and even better than the film’s visuals, which are decidedly stuck in 2001.

Overall, despite two decades passing, Shrek and its soundtrack still have their original spark. This is due to their confident individuality and commitment to creating a distinct and unique story and ambiance. Now, Shrek and its music continue to evoke nostalgia in audiences and inspire new viewers. Without the iconic Shrek soundtrack, the idea of a Shrek 5 movie may not have even been possible. Therefore, the opening notes of Smashmouth’s “All-Star” have done more than just add music to a movie; they have helped create a legacy.

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