By Lily Oei
[Photo: “Once,” Fox Searchlight, 2007]
From biopics (real and imagined) to film adaptations of Broadway musicals, 2007 was a good year for breaking out into song and dance. For the less expressive among us, there was a bumper crop of quality soundtracks available to enjoy. With thanks to the hard-working folks responsible for clearance and licensing, here are some titles that inspired us to replenish and revisit our collections:
“Southland Tales” [Amazon link]
Richard Kelly raised the bar for himself by including Gary Jules’ version of “Mad World” on the “Donnie Darko” soundtrack. Not all the songs featured in “Southland Tales” made it on to the album, but The Pixies, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Moby (who also provided the film’s score) avoided the cutting room floor. And for “Buffy” fans wondering when Sarah Michelle Gellar would sing once more with feeling, the former slayer does Britney proud with the parody tune “Teen Horniness Is Not a Crime.”
“Once” [Amazon link]
You’d have to be stone cold not to have been bewitched by this boy musician-meets-girl musician tale that’s charming in every way that “August Rush” this year’s other boy musician-meets-girl musician love story is maudlin and misguided. Songs from “Once”‘s key scenes are on this album, including the twangy and aptly titled “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy” and Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s plaintive music store duet “Falling Slowly.” Aficionados of Hansard’s band The Frames will recognize tracks already in their collections; new fans will swoon all over again.
“The Darjeeling Limited” [Amazon link]
Beyond resurrecting Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” in both the feature and the complementary short “Hotel Chevalier,” Wes Anderson and music supervisor Randall Poster have curated a collection of music from around the world and across time. Juxtaposing Debussy’s oh-so-poignant “Clair de Lune” (which you’ll also find on the soundtrack for “Atonement”) with the energetic “Typewriter Tip, Tip, Tip” from Merchant-Ivory’s 1970 film “Bombay Talkie” is whimsy bordering on brilliance. Perhaps it should be no surprise that Poster also supervised…
“I’m Not There” [Amazon link]
As in the film, everyone gets a chance to play Bob Dylan on this two-disc compilation, including Cat Power, Iron & Wine, the movie’s Marcus Carl Franklin and, hey, even Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. With a collection this large, and such big shoes to fill, there’s sure to be dissent over which covers work and which don’t. So to play it safe, we’ll recommend the final track Dylan himself performing “I’m Not There,” officially released at long last.
“Control” [Amazon link]
Much of what’s available on this album will already be familiar to Joy Division devotees, as well as anyone who’s seen Michael Winterbottom’s “24 Hour Party People.” Still, for diehard fans, there’s the cast version of “Transmission” and an original score by New Order to get behind. Everyone else should just cue up “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Atmosphere” and appreciate how the genius that was Ian Curtis still resonates today.
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” [Not yet available for purchase]
Although there’s no official word on a soundtrack as yet, few movie moments this year stand out as much as this film’s flashback to a ride in Jean-Dominique Bauby’s convertible to Lourdes. By setting the stunning visual effect of hair whipping in the wind to U2’s “Ultra Violet,” Schnabel, who also served as the film’s music supervisor, makes us feel as carefree and immortal as his characters. Other standout cuts include the mournful “Ramshackle Day Parade” by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros and the twinkly French classic “La Mer.”
“Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten” [Amazon link]
This documentary gets bogged down with its celebrity eulogies of Strummer, but the soundtrack picks up the slack. There’s still chatter, yet rather than limit itself to cherry picking songs from the former Clash frontman’s illustrious past, the album includes songs Strummer aired on his BBC radio show from Elvis Presley to Nina Simone. For purists, there’s also a strong selection of Strummer’s own output such as “Trash City,” which debuted nearly 20 years ago on the soundtrack to the Keanu Reeves flick “Permanent Record.”
“Hot Fuzz” [Amazon link]
Be sure to seek out the U.K. edition of this album, which includes more songs than the domestic version. From the glammy opening track, “Blockbuster,” to the multiple renditions of “Solid Gold Easy Action” by T. Rex and the Fratellis, this soundtrack is as goofy and big-hearted as its source. The inclusion of snippets of movie dialogue often takes you right out of music, but happily with “Hot Fuzz,” it brings you right back into the film.
“Juno” [Amazon link]
“Juno” stands to inherit the “Garden State” mantle for indie soundtrack sensitivity this year. The album includes Sonic Youth’s cover of The Carpenters’ “Superstar” and the Kinks’ “A Well Respected Man,” which now will forever conjure up images of Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) in running shorts. There aren’t any life-altering by way of The Shins moments in the film, but it’s hard not to fall for Juno and Paulie’s winsome duet of the Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone Else But You.”
“Walk Hard” [Amazon link]
Parodies can be hit or miss, but you have to admit the earnest flashbacky storytelling of “Ray” and “Walk the Line” screamed for a roast. The “Walk Hard” soundtrack, which was released earlier this December, includes “Let’s Duet,” a suggestive send-up of Johnny Cash and June Carter singing “Time’s A Wastin’.” A concert tour featuring Dewey Cox and the Walk Harders (à la “Spinal Tap”) is already on the boards and sold out. Take that, Hannah Montana.
Too good to go unmentioned: The unfortunately import-only soundtrack for Shane Meadow’s “This is England” is a period-perfect collection of ska and punk classics, while the soundtrack to AJ Schnack’s Kurt Cobain documentary “Kurt Cobain About a Son” is a mixtape portrait of the artist that contains no Nirvana tracks.