Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Make The Most Of Your Music

In a comment exchange about the absence of Madonna albums in my music library, I got to talking about those movie tie-in “soundtracks” on which the music may or may not actually show up anywhere in the film.

I think these may be a sort of outgrowth of the trend towards having a single “from the film” to create synergy (there, I said it) through radio play associated with the film. Think Seal and the song from Batman Forever. It seems that most of the time these songs are merely played during the end credits scroll and don’t function as part of the film in any way. Indeed, it’s seemed to me on more than one occasion that the music was more related to airplay trends than anything to the film itself.

The movie-associated song itself, though, has been around for quite a while – “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Days of Wine and Roses,” from the titular film, and all those Bond tunes. I’ve no grievances with the concept, or practice.

But these “soundtracks” containing hardly a note of the original score but filled with songs you can’t find in the movie somehow bother me. I suspect that’s because they’re such a blatantly commercial thing. Also, I can’t help feeling that the existence of these discs sometimes acts as an impediment to the release of the movie’s actual score. (And I am enough of a cinephilic film geek that I own a lot of original scores.)

Occasionally, though, there will be a tie-in album that gets it right. The music from Big Chill is a great example: the disc of Motown classics that was the film’s soundtrack album did so well, they decided to issue a second volume. The problem? The few remaining song that were used in the film but not represented on the original album did not add up to enough material to make a second one. The answer? Pad it out with other classic songs from the era, music which supported same the mood even if it did not itself appear in the film. I think the Forrest Gump disc did the same thing.

And then there’s “Songs in the Key of X,” a CD of music from and inspired by The X-Files. Some of the album’s tracks are previously existing material that was used in the show (e.g. Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand”). Other cuts are original songs commissioned for the disc (e.g. Soul Coughing’s “Unmarked Helicopters”). It’s a great disc, very evocative.

And certainly more in keeping with the experience of its associated material than the inevitable “soundtrack” of the new Transformers movie is likely to be.


Blogger Rob S. said...

*Gasp!* You said the T word! Back! back, fiend!

11:28 AM  

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