Friday, September 03, 2010

Five favorite movie soundtracks

I recently purchased the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” soundtrack, and it was love at first
listen. We are planning a spring wedding. The great thing is we don't even need to get a DJ.

What struck me about the “Scott Pilgrim” soundtrack was how well it worked as an actual album. Sadly, movie soundtracks, and I'm referring to the kind that are a collection of songs rather than the film's score, are more often than not, merely marketing tools. Every once in a while, though, the soundtrack released to accompany a film will be conceived with care.

A great soundtrack should be a reflection of its movie whether it be in tone or message. To be truly successful as an album, a soundtrack can take either “The Graduate” method of having a single artist compose all the songs or the mix tape approach. Too often soundtracks seem to have songs arbitrarily chosen, but great ones will play like a mix tape lovingly compiled by a dear friend or lover.

Below is a list of five of my favorite film soundtracks.

“Wayne's World” (1992)
Soundtracks can be a great way to be introduced to new music and artists. This was the case when, at age 9, I got the “Wayne's World” soundtrack. Through the album I was given my first introductions to such giants of rock as Queen and Jimi Hendrix with “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Foxy Lady” both of which were iconically featured in the movie.

“She's the One” (1996)
This soundtrack is as obscure as the Ed Burns film that inspired it, but with songs entirely written by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers it is worth seeking out. The film was a darker-than-usual romantic comedy, and Petty's music reflects that with uplifting love songs paired with bitter songs of heartache. Songs like “Angel Dream” show Petty's tender side, while “Hope You Never” shows a nastier view on love.

“Grosse Point Blank” (1997)
The quirky film that this soundtrack comes from was co-written and co-produced by its star John Cusack whose own music tastes infused the film. Much like “High Fidelity” three years later, the album feels as if Cusack sat down and put together the soundtrack as a mix for all his fans. The album offered me my first exposure to such songs as “Rudie Can't Fail,” “Blister in the Sun,” “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Pressure Drop.”

“Josie and the Pussycats” (2001)
Yes, you read that correctly. I have no shame in my love for this soundtrack to the goofy update of the 1970s cartoon. The songs created for the titular band featured Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley on lead vocals and lyrics by Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the title track to Tom Hanks' “That Thing You Do.” These are catchy pop-punk song with hooks that are the real deal. As an added bonus there's a boy band parody called “Backdoor Lover.”

“About a Boy” (2002)
Badly Drawn Boy, an idiosyncratic Brit pop act that freely blends sounds and genres, was the perfect choice to provide score and songs for this Hugh Grant vehicle based on the Nick Hornby book. Clever, heartfelt lyrics paired with well-constructed harmonies and melodies make this a wonderful collection of songs as both a stand-alone album as well as a companion piece to the film.

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