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At The Movies

Music is so cool! Okay, I'm sure I didn't shock anyone with that announcement, but I am consistently impressed with how versatile music is and how much it can change with context. You can listen to a certain song while laying in your bed with the lights out, and then listen to it again in a packed club full of kids dancing and it takes on an entirely new meaning. There are some songs I only want to listen to in a car full of my friends, driving around in the summertime with the windows rolled down. Context matters.

One of the truest examples of this is seeing how music works with film. A good soundtrack can really make a movie, put the finishing touch on a scene, and cement moments in the collective consciousness of the audience. Consider the score for Jaws, and the familiar sound of the shark getting closer, and closer, and closer. The choice of music really heightens the tension in Jaws, and serves as proof of the power of mixing film and music.

In keeping with the celebration of the union of these two vastly different art forms, here is a list of my Top 5 Film Soundtracks, in no particular order (excluding scores, since I'm trying to keep this more rock related).

  • Juno - The release of this soundtrack is what sparked my interest in writing this rock blog. Great low key indie-ish music ranging from the Kinks to the Moldy Peaches that fits the bittersweet tone of the film. Word on the street is that when Ellen Page was cast as Juno, she came to the director with a mix tape and said "This is what Juno would listen to" and they based most of the soundtrack off of that.
  • Repo Man - The perfect punk soundtrack for this grimy '80s cult film. Rival repo men track a stolen car with an alien in the trunk (lolwut?) while Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies and other provide the soundtrack. Very 80's, very underground, very tough.
  • Snatch - As down and dirty as the Repo Man soundtrack was, the Snatch soundtrack is equally slick. There's some dance tracks, some bass heavy techno instrumentals, some odd British punk tracks, and cuts that range from eerily moody to downright cheeky.
  • The Graduate - I can't imagine this movie without Simon and Garfunkel. Mrs. Robinson, The Sound Of Silence, Scarborough Fair... arguably the finest songs the legendary folk rock duo released. They serve well to frame the time and feel of the film, and the tracks actually further the story (*gasp*) rather than provide background noise that you hear while things are happening.
  • Royal Tenenbaums - I'm convinced that director Wes Anderson is a mad genius. Not only are his movies as clever as you get, but he's also able to jump from The Clash to Nick Drake to Elliot Smith to The Ramones without making it feel choppy. He hits all the fun notes just as well as he hits the depressing lows.

Those are my picks. Those are the soundtracks that really make movies for me. They heighten my enjoyment of the movies, and when I listen to the songs on their own I'm still drawn back to the scenes they are matched to. Feel free to post your own list of favorite soundtracks. I'd love to see what everyone else picks!