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LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK:  Garden State (photo)

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We are in an age where indie music is expected to be heard on a national level–whether it be through a car commercial or a dramatic montage on Grey’s Anatomy. Movie soundtracks are no exception. As proved by said car commercials, iPod ads, and slow-motion-theatrical-sequences, there is a want and need for indie-minded music.

(left: Let’s see how good you are, what song was playing during this scene?)

That’s why when music supervisors begin putting together a playlist for their film’s soundtrack–one in which they want to use some hip, under-the-radar music–one of the first places they’ll look for inspiration is the soundtrack for Garden State. Since the beginning of the 00’s, no other movie or TV show (sorry O.C. and Gilmore Girls) has been able to top the playlist for Zach Braff’s baby (he also wrote and directed Garden State).

There are many reasons the soundtrack for Garden State triumphs. First and foremost, Garden State–the movie–was good. It’s a lot easier to get excited about a soundtrack if the movie it’s representing was captivating to begin with.

Many times throughout Garden State, music leads the way, so by owning the soundtrack you also hold the keys to many of the film’s story-telling devices. Want to relive the scene of Sam (Natalie Portman) putting a pair of oversized headphones around Andrew’s (Zach Braff) ears telling him that The Shins will change his life? Go to track #4, “New Slang” by The Shins, and you can just see the big ol’ smile stretch across Natalie Portman’s face.

Though it’s tough to associate every moment in the movie with a song on the soundtrack, you can definitely do it with a handful. Frou Frou’s “Let Go” brings you back to the dramatic last scene where Andrew plants a big wet one on Sam in the baggage claim area, while Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York” takes you back to the rainy scene in the quarry where everyone’s wearing garbage bags for raincoats. (I can even look past the fact that Braff’s character was technically “The Only Living Boy In New Jersey.”)

Garden State also succeeds because it doesn’t fall into the normal Hollywood traps. The scene where Sam hands her headphones over to Andrew could have easily been contrived into a major label, integrated marketing stunt:

Sam: Here, listen to this new Maroon 5 single, it will change your life.
Andrew: Ah yeah, that’s awesome!

Next thing you know, you’ve got a Maroon 5 music video with scenes of Garden State interspersed throughout.

Method Man also has a cameo in the film, which might have lead some record-industry-peeps to think he deserved a track on the film’s soundtrack–fortunately he doesn’t. No knock on Method Man, but all of the songs on Garden State perfectly match the mood of the film, everything from Iron and Wine’s lovely “Such Great Heights” to Coldplay’s pre-arena-days, “Don’t Panic“. I’m not sure if a Wu-Tang Clan track would have gone well between songs by Remy Zero and Thievery Corporation.

To all soundtrack producers and montage makers looking to strike gold, here’s the secret to the success of the Garden State soundtrack–Zack Braff took a whole bunch of mainstream-accessible songs from mostly indie-minded bands, and, basically, just made a really good mixtape.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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