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“Twilight” offers a new dawn for alt-soundtracks.

“Twilight” offers a new dawn for alt-soundtracks. (photo)

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The dominant narrative about movie soundtracks points to the ’90s as the key moment when the all-original score was tossed aside in favor of soundtracks stringing together disconnected B-sides and one-offs from bands (that didn’t even need to be in the movie) — another key source of revenue in the ever-expanding merchandising race. “Singles” was perhaps the first movie whose soundtrack was (for better or worse) more culturally important than the film itself. Another gold standard was the “Batman Forever” soundtrack, which persisted long after the film had become a pop culture punchline: it had a big U2 single (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”) and attempted to blow up The Flaming Lips by throwing the wildly incongruous “Bad Days” onto the soundtrack.

In recent years, Wes Anderson (among others) has been (unfairly) accused of making movies for the sole purpose of issuing soundtrack mixtapes, but the “Twilight” movies have taken this mentality to a whole new level. The first “Twilight” soundtrack sold like crazy, Linkin Park tracks and all. Someone made a decision, though, to “Juno”-fy the soundtrack for “Twilight: New Moon” — and lo and behold, kids who have zero interest in a duet between Grizzly Bear and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand bought the damn thing anyway.

In anticipation of the third film, someone in marketing decided to unveil the third soundtrack’s selections track by track over seven-and-a-half hours — suggesting that both rabid “Twilight” fans and certain kinds of indie nerds share a common bond in their willingness to click refresh over and over for the tiniest scrap of information on the franchise or the latest round of dream team artist pairings and one-offs.

05132010_nick.jpg“Juno” probably kicked it off, with its slow-burn platinum success of a soundtrack. It was the first chart-topping soundtrack since “High School Musical 2,” from which it couldn’t be more diametrically opposite. Naturally, less than a year later, the floodgates opened with “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” which arrived as a calculated (if kind of cute) attempt to cash in on melodically oriented indie rock’s percolation into the mainstream. While music supervisors won’t rock the boat with truly avant garde choices, it’s an arrangement that works well for both parties: the music isn’t as obvious or ubiquitous as pop fare and gives the film a boost in indie cred and if people like the movie, bands can sell better than they ever have before (and, quite possibly, better than they will again).

And it means something else: movie soundtracks are about to get a lot more tolerable, less fixated on adducing chart-toppers by sheer force of will. Since album sales are way down in the dumps anyways, event soundtracks work for everyone; it’s the presumable rareness/obscurity of those involved (whose worth was already proved in the movie) that moves the product. This is one of those few times everything works out well for everyone without being evil to anyone.

[Photos: “Singles,” Warner Bros., 1992; “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” Sony, 2008.]

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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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