The Wachowskis’ sci-fi action masterpiece, The Matrix, has a distinctive soundtrack full of great songs by a wide range of punk, metal, and big beat artists. The notion that reality is just a computer simulation was introduced into the mainstream by The Matrix. The plot concerns Thomas Anderson, a programmer who is brought into the real world and told that he’s “The One” who will liberate humanity from their machine overlords. The Wachowskis pioneered a unique green-tinged cinematic aesthetic for The Matrix, and the music in the movie went a long way toward creating the right mood. The big beats also set the rapid-paced rhythm for the film’s action sequences.
The Matrix has an original score composed by Don Davis, complete with iconic themes and motifs, but the Wachowskis also included plenty of needle-drops from musicians like the Prodigy, the Propellerheads, and Rage Against the Machine. The Matrix’s unmistakable cyberpunk visuals are paired with electronic musical stylings, the story’s raucous rebellion against the system is paired with punk rock, and the bombastic action scenes are paired with heavy metal. There’s a shootout set to a trip hop track, a meeting with a prophetic psychic program set to a classic Duke Ellington record, and an unforgettable final shot set to a politically charged hard rock hit.
This is every song in The Matrix, in order:
- “Dissolved Girl” by Massive Attack
- “Dragula” by Rob Zombie
- “Mindfields” by the Prodigy
- “Plasticity” by Plastikman
- “Leave You Far Behind” by Lunatic Calm
- “Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)” by Rob Dougan
- “Prime Audio Soup” by the Meat Beat Manifesto
- “Minor Swing” by Django Reinhardt
- “Begin the Run” by Jimmie Haskell
- “I’m Beginning to See the Light” by Duke Ellington
- “Spybreak (Short One)” by the Propellerheads
- “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine
- “Rock is Dead” by Marilyn Manson
When Each Song Plays In The Matrix
“Dissolved Girl” by Massive Attack – After the opening action set-piece with Trinity, this song can be heard playing when Neo is introduced, sleeping in front of his computer. He wakes up to some cryptic green text on his screen: “The Matrix has you… Follow the white rabbit… Knock knock, Neo.”
“Dragula” by Rob Zombie – This song by shock rocker-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie can be heard playing in the nightclub, where Neo follows “The White Rabbit.” This is where he meets Trinity for the first time and she unloads a bunch of exposition about his destiny. She addresses him as Neo, a name he knows only from the mysterious message on his computer, and tells him, “They’re watching you, Neo.”
“Mindfields” by the Prodigy – This track by the English EDM band, the Prodigy, is the second song that plays in the nightclub when Neo is talking to Trinity. She warns him that he’s running out of time and encourages him to look out for the answer, because “it’s looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.”
“Plasticity” by Plastikman – This song by Richie Hawtin, also known by the stage names Plastikman and F.U.S.E., can also be heard playing at the nightclub where Neo meets his love interest, Trinity.
“Leave You Far Behind” by Lunatic Calm – This song is playing when Neo and Morpheus are fighting in a training simulation (and, by extension, the Wachowskis are outlining the rules of their superpowered fight sequences). Morpheus shows Neo what a badass warrior he can be if he knows he’s in a simulation and takes control of its phony reality.
“Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)” by Rob Dougan – This song plays during Neo’s first time in the Matrix. Morpheus takes Neo through the streets and teaches him his first lesson when he notices a beautiful woman in a red dress and takes his eye off the ball, which was exactly what the program wanted him to do.
“Prime Audio Soup” by the Meat Beat Manifesto – This song can be heard when the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar is getting ready to plug into the Matrix and Morpheus answers the phone.
“Minor Swing” by Django Reinhardt – This song can be heard faintly in the background during Neo’s meeting with the Oracle, a prophetic program who foresaw the arrival of “The One.”
“Begin the Run” by Jimmie Haskell – This song, taken from the soundtrack of William F. Claxton’s cult classic sci-fi horror movie Night of the Lepus, can be heard coming from the TV in the Oracle’s living room, where the movie is playing.
“I’m Beginning to See the Light” by Duke Ellington – This song by the iconic jazz pianist Duke Ellington is the second song that can be heard faintly in the background of Neo’s meeting with the Oracle. The Oracle insinuates that Neo is not, in fact, the One, and that he will have to choose between Morpheus’ life and his own. As a cybernetic psychic, the Oracle makes for a great plot device as she can provide ominous foreshadowing.
“Spybreak (Short One)” by the Propellerheads – This trip hop track kicks in on the soundtrack as Neo and Trinity burst into the lobby of the building where Morpheus is being held hostage. They set about liberating him with their massive arsenal of guns as they engage in a shootout with the police. The big beat rhythm of the song sets the perfect fast pace and frenzied energy for one of The Matrix’s most thrilling action sequences.
“Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine – This song starts playing on the soundtrack when Neo hangs up the phone in the phone booth and walks away in slow-motion. He puts on his sunglasses, then shows off the control he now has over his powers as he flies off into the sky. The song continues into the end credits. A brass-filled cover of “Wake Up” recorded by the brass-based rock and roll cover band Brass Against was later reused in the belated fourth Matrix movie, The Matrix Resurrections, over a similar final shot, where both Neo and Trinity take flight as they exercise their control over the Matrix.
“Rock is Dead” by Marilyn Manson – This metal track by Marilyn Manson, the front man of the band of the same name, is the second song that plays over the end credits of The Matrix.
Where You Can Listen To The Matrix Soundtrack
The soundtrack album for The Matrix, titled Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture The Matrix, is available for streaming on Spotify. Davis’ original score can be heard on the album The Matrix (Original Motion Picture Score), which is streaming on Deezer and Apple Music.