August 16th, 2007


(Half-assed but nevertheless definitive)

Top 5 movie soundtracks that don't suck

I'm not really a fan of movie soundtracks. A lot of times the music you hear in movies (both indie and major) is just a clumsy device to manipulate your emotions or telegraph what the mood is supposed to be. If it's an indie comedy there's that generic "quirky" sound. If it's Lord of the Rings or Star Wars it's some overwrought orchestral score. If it's a rom-com, they probably threw together a mishmash of currently popular crap. A pox on all their houses.

The other day I was listening to the commentary track for Smashing Machine, a surprisingly good documentary about Ultimate Fighting. The movie makes noticably good use of sound/music, and when the topic came up, the director said: "The music and sound in a movie should never just reinforce the audience's expectations." Exactly!

The best movie soundtracks are integral to the movie, yet withstand repeated listening on their own. Here's my top five. Drum roll please...

1. Donnie Darko - awesome score composed by Michael Andrews, who also wrote the movie's haunting alternate arrangement of Tears for Fears' "Mad World." Andrews also scored Me You & Everyone We Know, but that one doesn't hold up to repeated listening. It's too precious. His solo album "Hand on String" is pretty good.


Middlesex Times - I put this on a lot when I'm shaving. It makes shaving seem more interesting.

The Artifact and the Living - beautiful melancholy piano tune

Love Is Tired - for a week after I heard this, I went around constantly murmuring "who's gonna be the one to say it? our love is tirrrrrrred"

2. Trespass -never saw the movie, I suspect it's shite, but this awesome hip hop comp includes a fat Premier beat ("Gotta Get Over") and the now quaintly forgotten Penthouse Player's Clique. ("I'm a player, bitch, I thought you knew.") Also some West Coast dude, Mac Dre or Mac Mall or somebody.

3. Pulp Fiction - introduced many people to Dick Dale & had a bunch of other ace tunes-- Dusty Springfeld, "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon," etc. Classic example of a soundtrack inextricably woven into the fabric of the movie, to great effect.

4. Umm Ghost Dog? Pretty good as I recall. Most people associate it with RZA, but I remember it chiefly for its inclusion of this great reggae song, "A lot of people won't get no justice tonight"

5. Errm let's see there's... Trainspotting? I'm reaching here. It introduced me to Iggy Pop's washboard abs, at any rate.