Soundtrack > Movie

soundtracks

A couple of Saturdays ago, I was making the late night drive home from Poughkeepsie. I make this drive frequently, since that’s where I catch Metro North whenever I’m heading into the City, but it’s not a very interesting ride and I’m usually doing it after a very fun, but exhausting, day. One of the ways that I keep myself alert is to play music really loud that I can sing along with; this keeps my energy up and makes the time fly by faster. The song “Footloose” came on and as I was belting out my best Kenny Loggins impression, I thought about how much I loved this soundtrack when I was a kid. It was one of the first non-kid albums (yes – I had albums) that I owned and I liked pretty much every song on it; “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” was a personal favorite, but there were also great tunes by John Cougar Mellencamp, Quiet Riot, Bonnie Tyler and Foreigner. I used to play that record a lot, probably driving my mother crazy in the process.

The irony is I didn’t even like the movie Footloose.

While I thought Footloose (the soundtrack) was one of the greatest things I’d ever heard, even at eight years old I knew that the premise of Footloose (the movie) was rubbish. I mean, a town where dancing was banned? What was that? I just wasn’t buying what they were selling. I finally got around to seeing the movie when I was a little bit older and my early instincts were right – this was not a good movie. But thirty years later, I still enjoy all the songs from the soundtrack.

This got me thinking about other instances where I liked a movie soundtrack a lot more than the movie itself. Turns out, this happens more than I would have expected. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I hated the movie in question, but simply that I enjoyed the collection of songs featured in the movie more. Maybe it’s a sign of being a kid of the 80s and early 90s, when soundtracks were really big business, that I pay as much attention to the music in films as I do. A good soundtrack improves a movie and helps the viewer connect with it. It often also exposes you to new artists that you might not have been familiar with; I’ve discovered a lot of music that I like from the artist being featured on a soundtrack that I enjoy. When it’d done perfectly, and there is a perfect marriage between song and movie, you can’t help but think of one without thinking of the other. The two are forever interconnected.

Sometimes the quality of the move can’t seem to quite live up to the quality of the soundtrack. While I’d listen to the following soundtracks anytime, you’d be less likely to get me to watch the movie that they are supposedly supporting. In some of these cases, the music is the star and the movie is more secondary. In others, the music is the only redeeming thing about the film experience.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

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I didn’t hate this movie as much as everyone else did, but I’ll admit that it wasn’t very good either. I respect what Diablo Cody was going for with her black comedy horror script, but it just didn’t come together all that well. The cast was pretty good – it featured a pre-super fame Chris Pratt – and it tried to put a new twist on the horror genre, but it gets an A for effort and a C for execution. The soundtrack, however, was great and marked my first exposure to the band Florence + the Machine. I was immediately drawn to their song “Kiss With A Fist” as soon as I heard it; In fact, I paused the movie midway through to start exploring the soundtrack online (not a good sign for the actual movie). It was full of a ton of bands that I liked or wound up liking. The movie experience wasn’t all that great, but the musical experience was top notch.

 

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

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While I didn’t get around to watching Saturday Night Fever until pretty recently, I was under the impression that it was just a cheesy 70s disco movie. I’d see plenty of iconic clips from the movie over the years – John Travolta in his white suit on the multi-colored dance floor. So I was ill-prepared for the fact that the bulk of this movie was not about dancing. You’d think that someone would have mentioned the rapes and gang violence and suicide at some point. Those are topics that I don’t necessarily have a problem with in a movie, but they were so far afoul of what I thought I was going to see that I wasn’t a fan of the movie at all. Thank goodness for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which provided me with all the disco-goodness that I was looking for. With the Bee-Gees, you get what you expect.

 

Into the Wild (2007)

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I didn’t mind the film Into the Wild, but it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I liked the book more, but that had more to do with Jon Krakauer’s writing style more than anything else. I just didn’t completely connect with Christopher McCandless’ story, probably because I am not, by any definition of the word, outdoorsy. The wilderness is pretty and all, but I’m over it pretty quickly. Taking off to be one with nature is nothing that I would ever do, let alone to do such a half-assed job of it or without telling anyone where I was going. I found much more beauty in Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack, not surprising since I’ve loved Eddie Vedder since I was 13 years old. Add some banjos into the mix and the movie didn’t stand a chance.

Top Gun (1986)

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Maybe I like Kenny Loggins more than I thought I did.

Top Gun is a fine movie; I enjoyed it a lot more when I was a kid and I might stop to watch it if it’s on cable on a Sunday afternoon. It doesn’t necessarily hold up all that well – the volleyball scene that was such a big deal when I was younger reads a little differently now that I’m an adult (and poor Goose – forced to play beach volleyball with a shirt on). But even on the strength of only one song – Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” – the soundtrack easily surpasses the movie. And seriously, who doesn’t love “Danger Zone?” Advantage soundtrack.

 

Garden State (2004)

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I have a complicated and ever evolving relationship with the movie Garden State. I didn’t really love it the first time I saw it, but the movie eventually won me over after a few viewings – until I hit a saturation point and fell out of like with the film (possibly related to falling out of like with someone who really loved the film). Now I’m mostly ambivalent about the movie. The soundtrack, on the other hand, I always liked quite a bit. There is just so much wonderful indie rock on there – Coldplay, The Shins, Colin Hay, Remy Zero. I’m 1,000 times more likely to play the Garden State soundtrack than re-watch Garden State itself.

Reality Bites (1994)

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I was too young and naïve when I saw Reality Bites for the first time. I was in high school when the movie came out and the thought that this angst was my future was not what I had planned. I didn’t get the appeal of arty and unambitious Ethan Hawke. Then I went to college and Reality Bites made a whole lot more sense. But while I didn’t love the movie as much as my peers did, I had nothing but love for all the music. Squeeze’s “Tempted” is one of my all-time favorite songs, and “My Sharona” and “Stay” are up there as well. I should probably give Reality Bites another watch to see where I stand on it now, but no matter where I am in my life I have always dug the tunes.

Your turn – what soundtracks do you like more than the movie that they were spawned from? Sound off in the comments below.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – I’m sick edition

So it turns out, dear readers, that I am indeed a mere mortal and occasionally I feel under the weather. Right now I’m battling either a nasty cold or a light flu; I’m not sure if it has made up its mind yet as to what it is. This has knocked me down for the count – my boss took one look at me yesterday and sent me home, where I slept most of the day and watched a lot of wedding-related programming which seems to comprise a lot of the daytime TV schedule. I’m feeling slightly better today, but I’m also hopped up on enough cold medicine to take down an ox. The good news is that I seem to have stopped coughing; the bad news is I’m exhausted walking from one room to the next.

However, I must soldier on. I couldn’t leave you without your pop culture roundup. That would be heresy. I just can’t guarantee that everything is spelled right and that the order of links makes total sense. I tried my best, but I can’t make any promises as to coherency. So while I try the difficult act of breathing without getting winded, kick back and enjoy the pop culture goodness that I’ve assembled.

  • Charlie Hunnam has quit the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation. I think this was a good career move for him, though he was the only reason I had any interest in the movie.
  • If you love those Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy commercials for Dodge as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know that he made SEVENTY of them.
  • Watch Tom Hanks play around on a giant piano keyboard (with a little help from Sandra Bullock):

 

  • Bullock also showed off her rap skills:

 

  • The Simpsons will have guest vocals from Judd Apatow, Channing Tatum, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Seth Rogan.
  • File this under things that make you go hmmm….Japanese school kids perform “Day Man” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

 

  • The A.V. Club has a story on an old favorite of mine, Homestar Runner.
  • Britney Spears’ new album has a name – her name.
  • The cast of Modern Family played Family Feud on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

 

  • Lady Gaga and The Muppets are making a Christmas special. This could either be amazing or terrible. I don’t see any middle ground.
  • The showrunner for The Daily Show has left.

Trailers

  • Michael Bay and Starz are teaming up for a new pirate show:

 

  • Sarah Silverman’s new HBO special:

 

  • I’m really looking forward to Will Ferrell’s Spoils of Babylon mini-series on IFC

 

  • George Clooney and Matt Damon head up an all-star cast in Monument Men

 

  • This documentary on Calvin & Hobbes looks great

 

  • The trailer for Avalanche Sharks, SyFy’s newest terrible movie, has been released:

 

  • Ad Week has an interesting story on how much it costs to run a commercial on different TV shows.
  • The guy from Blur is working with actor Idris Elba on new music.
  • Elizabeth Berkley revisited her Saved By The Bell roots on Dancing with the Stars:

 

  • Alexander Skarsgard stars in the music video for Cut Copy’s “Free Your Mind.”

I would totally sign up for this cult.

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts:

  • An Archer/Top Gun mashup:

 

  • Someone mad a Pokemon/King of the Hill crossover:

 

  • And finally, here’s a supercut that theorizes that Tom Hank’s career is just one long movie:

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – 12/12/12 edition

Happy 12/12/12 day – or to the good people of Wisconsin, Happy Aaron Rodgers Day! (I refuse to acknowledge what Bostonites are referring to today as.) I’m not really sure what we are supposed to be doing today to commemorate the last time we’ll see a date like this in our lifetime, other than pointing that fact out, but it’s still kind of fun. Mostly is has resulted in newspapers and news programs trying to find something interesting to say about today; my local paper went with discussing the significance of the number 12 in religion, math and myth. Seems like a stretch to me, but whatever.

So while you are pondering what today means in the grand scheme of things, take a little break to catch up on some of the pop culture stories that you might have missed in the last two weeks.

  • Fred Armisen and Bill Hader couldn’t hold it together during dress rehearsals for a sketch that didn’t make the final SNL broadcast.

 

  • I am sooooo loving the new Twitter account (@SeinfeldToday) that imagines contemporary Seinfeld episode premises. The person behind this nails it.

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Get the gang back together. I would totally watch this!

  • Google has a fun Easter egg for Seinfeld fans. Type Festivus into Google and see what appears.
  • This one is a head scratcher – AMC has a comedy pilot in development titled We Hate Paul Reserve that centers on two brothers liking in Colonial Boston who don’t like Revere. Ooooookkkkkkaaaaayyyyy.
  • A sequel to the 2010 Angelina Jolie film Salt may be happening. I wonder if there is any chance that they will film here again – I missed out on stalking running into Brad Pitt last time.
  • Kevin Youkilis is now a New York Yankee – a move that seems to have managed to upset Red Sox and Yankee fans alike. I personally don’t care – we needed a temporary 3rd baseman and he was the best we could get – but it’s going to be an interesting season.
  • FX has ordered a pilot from the producers of Homeland. I hope it is better than this season of Homeland; the show when from great to inconsistent far too quickly for me.
  • Gwen Stefani joined her husband’s band Bush on stage over the weekend.

 

  • I’m fascinated by the people who do the set design and props for movies and TV shows. Entertainment Weekly talks to Parks and Recreation’s prop master about her favorite pieces.
  • A new trailer has been released for Man of Steel, the new Superman movie.

I’m pretty meh on this franchise; I’m usually all in for superheroes, but Superman isn’t doing it for me.

  • Busy Phillips (Cougartown, Freaks and Geeks) announced on Twitter that she is expecting her second child. She’s one of my faves, so I was happy to see the good news.
  • Avril Lavigne has covered a song by her fiancée’s band Nickelback. God help us all.

 

  • The Buffalo Bills have once again let me down. I’ll have to wait yet another year for the possibility of seeing a winning season.
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced the 2013 inductees. Congrats! Flavor Flav! Better luck next time, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and N.W.A.
  • DMX performs Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Fantastic!

 

  • I have no idea what to make of this rap battle between Santa and Moses (the latter is played by Snoop Dogg), but I’m pretty sure I can’t unsee it.

 

  • Loyal blog readers know that I am a fan of the mashup. I couldn’t resist this one – It’s Always Sunny in Homeland

 

  • Reading Rainbow Remix!

 

  • A man shot his girlfriend over an argument about The Walking Dead.
  •  And finally, what if the Breaking Bad credits were done in the style of The Wire? Wonder no more – feast your eyes on this epicness.