Guardians of the Galaxy‘s soundtrack figures so prominently in the film that it almost qualifies as a supporting character.
Throughout the movie, it provides hooks for jokes and action sequences and establishes a few important moments between its primary characters. The fact that it’s all supposed to be coming from a tape made for Peter Quill by his mother before she died—and before he was whisked away from Earth by aliens—underlines the loneliness that defines him. And it’s also just really good at doing what a soundtrack’s supposed to do, bolstering the movie’s rambunctious oddball energy with a bunch of vintage soft rock and soul songs that were, for the most part, considered throwaway pop tunes when they were released. In other words, just like the story’s protagonists, these songs are misfits.
Spoiler alert: At the end of the movie, Peter finds out that he’s been unknowingly carrying around a sequel to the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 tape. Presumably, we’ll hear what’s on it in the GOTG sequel—but honestly, that’s a really long wait. Using director James Gunn’s interview about the soundtrack at Vulture as a guide, here’s a hypothetical Awesome Mix Vol. 2, assembled using same method Gunn employed for Vol. 1: choosing hits from the ’70s Billboard charts that aren’t quite important enough to have entered the pop pantheon, and favoring the kind of lightweight, slightly funky stuff that defined AOR radio back then. (We also included a couple of songs he’d picked for GOTG that didn’t make the final cut.)
At 18 songs, it’s longer by half than the official soundtrack—but let’s presume that Peter’s mother had access to 60-minute cassette tapes and didn’t want to short him.