“Hey Paul, do you like Huey Lewis and the News?”
Music can really make a movie, literally in its inception. 1927’s “The Jazz Singer” was the first movie with one. Without it, people would simply remember Al Jolsen in a pretty racist performance. Fast forward 89 years later and the term, “soundtrack” is a different idea. Audio is no longer just the sound that matches up with the action flickering on the movie screen or the instrumental, mood-setting, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Ennio Morricone or other composer’s score. Though sometimes a score is packaged as a soundtrack or not at all. In 2016 it could be argued the soundtrack could be dying if not on life support. The movie mix tape as we know it can transcend the films it accompanies. There are a few types:
- A collection of previously recorded songs compiled by an inspired music director who is supposedly inspired by the film
- A cover song soundtrack
the infamous musical soundtrack
- A score
- A mix of any of the above with audio clips inserted from the film throughout the tracklist (worse case of this being Green Day’s version of “Brain Stew” from the 1998 “Godzilla” soundtrack)
I think that’s all of them.
According to Pajiba.com the highest-selling soundtrack is “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, but, to be honest, there’s really only one song most people can name off of it and that track was a cover song. Even though, it has sold over 16 million copies. Well, quantity doesn’t account for taste. At least not my taste.
With that in mind, I have boiled down, reduced and found the essence of the best of the best to what I have decided to be my 10 favorite songs from my 10 favorite soundtracks. In no particular order, naturally.
• The Cure “Burn” from “The Crow” soundtrack
Clocking in at 6:27 seconds this song is the film, arguably. If I had a blind friend, the best way for me to visually describe this film would be not even try and just play this song. It starts slow, moves toward dramatic and atmospheric into a driving pace. It’s 90’s goth sway song perfection.
• Jane’s Addiction “Ted, Just Admit It” from “The Natural Born Killers” soundtrack
I suspect the obvious selection from this album would be Nine Inch Nails “Burn.” That might be why I didn’t pick it, but it’s not a slight on this compliation since Trent Reznor put it together. The real reason I picked this song is because it’s hauting as hell and actually features Ted Bundy’s voice claiming his innocence against the Salt Lake Police Department’s accusations of his “hobby.” Not recoreded for the soundtrack, but the pairing is unjarring.
• Oasis “F**kin’ in the Bushes” from “Snatch” soundtrack
Sure a few people had seen “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” but Jason Stathem needed another job, so Guy Richie hooked him up with a cast featuring Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro and made another movie with one of the most badass soundtracks of all time. Including a super punk-ass song from Oasis. Whoddathunkit?
• The Clash “Bankrobber” on “Rocknrolla” soundtrack
While we are on the Guy Richie soundtrack kick, the soundtrack for this film picked right back up. If only Guy would make good on this promise and make a sequel to this “Rocknrolla” with an equally amazing soundtrack, I could make this a list of 11. Sure, there are great and diverse tracks on this album, but the scene where a kid stands in the shadow of his abusive stepfather, about to get beat, he shouts the lyrics to “Bankrobber.” It’s chilling and had me wondering what Joe Strummer would have thought of it. A still from that scene could be a Clash album cover.
• April March “Chick Habit” from “Death Proof” soundtrack
My friend walked out of this film. He couldn’t take the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double feature. He didn’t just walk out of the film, either. He bitched about it while chain smokin’ in my newly bought, used car the entire 25 minute ride home. That’s his loss. The second of the 3 hour camp journey comes with a sweet pay off in the revenge, feminism and just satisfaction department accomnpanied by 3 bad-ass women taking out the Kurt Russell trash to this song that only Tarantino would drop into a film or even know about.
• Marilyn Manson “I Put a Spell on You” from “Lost Highway” soundtrack
A David Lynch film accompanied by a Trent Reznor produced soundtrack. Little loss here. Reznor combined tracks from David Bowie, one of Smashing Pumpkins’ real forgotten gems, a one-off NIN track and yes, Marilyn Manson (who also appears in the film). With all that real talent why did I pick I Marilyn Manson track? Because it f**king rocks that’s why. It’s a Screaming Jay Hawkins cover and it explodes.
• David Bowie “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” from “Inglourious Basterds” soundtrack.
When I first watched this film and we get to the scene leading up to the final act of revenge, I was really thrown off hearing David Bowie in this WWII revenge film. It was so anachronstic…until you see what’s coming. If you’re going to rewrite history, you might as well use all the tools at your disposal. While I could, and no doubt someone has, write 30 pages on the use of this song in this movie, I’ll spare you. It just really sets the stage for everything that is about to come in a way we as a viewing audince can only know in hindsight. That’s why Tarantino is Tarantino, I suppose.
• Elliott Smith “Miss Misery” from “Good Will Hunting” soundtrack
For all the well-deserved acclaim Affleck and Damon received for this film, what would “Good Will Hunting” be without the neo-Chet-Baker making Will’s anxiety to move out of his world and comfort zone really turn the audience’s sympathy into empathy? In hindsight, well, it’s even more of an affect. The soundtrack is a perfect companion to the film when you can’t find a screen to watch it on.
• Porno for Pyros “Satellite of Love” from “Cable Guy” soundtrack
If there ever were a sliced and diced hodgeodge of the 90’s this is it. Cracker, Filter, Cypress Hill and that song from The Primitive Radio Gods that would not go away all on one album.The film featured Jim Carrey and was directed by Ben Stiller. Dark and odd and maybe too dark for audiences, “Cable Guy” didn’t really leave that much of a mark, but the soundtrack did. Everyone I knew had it. It’s the Lou Reed cover by Perry Ferrell’s Porno for Pyros that ends up on many of my playlists.
• The Rapture “Out of the Races and onto the Track” from “Rules of Attraction” soundtrack
This film, based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel showed us another side of The Dawson and the apathy that college life can bring when the drugs wear off and plans fail. The soundtrack didn’t fail. Songs from Robert Smith, Debbe Harry and Donovan on this album span decades, but all the songs really worked in the film, too. Especially the Harry Nilsson song during the dark bathroom scene. This song from The Rapture really fits the spirit of this film: wreckless, danceable, decedent.
For those of you who want to just hit play and enjoy, here’s the list.
As always this is my list, but I would love to hear your opinions. Leave them in the comments or on the Facebook post.