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From Nirvana to Prince: 12 of Sofia Coppola's favourite albums

Sofia Coppola may well have cinema in her blood — being the daughter of the esteemed Francis Ford Coppola will do that — but she’s never been far away from music either. After taking some roles both in and out of her father’s films, Coppola soon realised that being behind the camera was the only way she saw her career flourishing, and she moved into directing. Soon enough, films like The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation and Marie Antoinette confirmed Coppola as one of the leading lights of her generation.

Like any great director, Coppola has always understood the value of a searing soundtrack, using music to emote and narrate in equal measure. Of course, there is no better use of music in Coppola’s films than in 2006’s Marie Antoinette which utilised new wave sounds to showcase the historical Empress as a figurative breath of fresh air for her country. It means, when we stumbled upon the 2004 interview Sofia Coppola conducted with Entertainment Weekly, within which she selected her 12 favourite albums ever, we were thrilled to see what made the cut.

In truth, we were pleasantly surprised. Coppola proved herself to be every bit the new wave connoisseur and, two years before the release of the aforementioned blockbuster hit, was clearly channelling the new film through her own speakers. Coppola’s dozen favourite albums show a keen sense of music and the landscapes it can create opting to not rest in one genre or generation, Coppola selects one of the more eclectic lists we’ve seen.

Of course, there are some less surprising choices too. Picking My Bloody Valentine’s classic record Loveless, Coppola described the LP as: ”Great, romantic, and melancholic and dreamy, one of my favourite records.” For any respecting alternative music lover, the album is an essential listen. Two more records are deemed as such by the director too, both of which have connections to her films.

First up is Phoenix, the French pop band have become a cult-favourite over recent years but in the early noughties were prime-time artists. Coppola picks out United as one of her favourites noting, “We used the song ‘Too Young’ in Lost in Translation when Bill [Murray] and Scarlett [Johansson] are dancing. I also really love the song ‘Honeymoon’.” The next record connected to her films is New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies, which featured the song ‘Age of Consent’, which would later be a part of the Marie Antoinette film.

Two more new wave records would also find their way on to the list. Gang of Four’s classic Entertainment is on the list: ”Really good in the car — or on headphones in the airport if you’re feeling a little aggressive. ‘Natural’s Not in It’ is my favourite song on it.” There’s also a space for Roxy Music’s smash Avalon from 1982, which Coppola calls perfect for when you’re “feeling suave and sophisticated.”

It’s not all one-way traffic though, Coppola also makes note to pick a few curveballs. Picking Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged LP is a big call, but Coppola says “there’s something personal about it,” which keeps her coming back. She also selects a Rough Trade compilation album and some jazz piano sounds from Bill Evans. But perhaps her most precious record on the list is Prince’s self-titled debut: “I grew up with this. The last song, ‘It’s Gonna Be Lonely,’ is perfect when you are feeling melodramatic about a goodbye.”

Below, we’ve pulled together a playlist of these albums and it makes for a killer listen. Find it below the list of Sofia Coppola’s favourite albums.

Sofia Coppola’s 12 favourite albums:

  • Loveless – My Bloody Valentine
  • United – Phoenix
  • Power, Corruption & Lies – New Order
  • Entertainment – Gang of Four
  • Avalon – Roxy Music
  • In Search of… – N.E.R.D
  • Living in a Magazine – Zoot Woman
  • From Left to Right – Bill Evans
  • MTV Unplugged – Nirvana
  • Rough Trade Shops: Electronic 01 – Various Artists
  • One From The Heart – Tom Waits
  • Prince – Prince