Weekly Playlist: Soundtrack Songs #1 | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Weekly Playlist: Soundtrack Songs #1

An Instinctive Selection of Favorite Songs From Film Soundtracks

May 25, 2019 Bookmark and Share

Welcome, all to the first of many installments of the film music playlist. And a special welcome to all of my fellow soundtrack enthusiasts out there! There weren’t really any parameters on this one. I just played a game of association with the songs that first popped into my mind when I thought about movie soundtracks I had connected to in my past. I tried not to represent a director more than once...and failed when I doubled up on Jason Reitman soundtracks for Juno and Up in the Airand Cameron Crowe soundtracks for Singles and Vanilla Sky. Probably subconsciously, I constrained selections to my lifespan. There will be playlists to come that spotlight past eras of cinema, reflecting popular styles of music during those times (Spotify permitting). I thought of “Danger Zone” from Top Gun while putting this one together but for the sake of cohesion, I’m saving that for later.

Playlists like these can be picked apart for oversight but they can also grow to six-hour running times without blatant omissions. With that in mind, try to think of this as an assortment of tracks that made an impression on me when I saw a film or listened to its soundtrack independently (something I really love doing by the way). It’s pretty instinctual and was therefore pretty self-revealing as an exercise.

I did decide to only include songs that had already been recorded and then used for the film as source music. Expect future playlists comprised completely from original score music, songs written by the artist expressly for the film, and more structured, theme-oriented source music compilations.

After putting this together, I strongly encourage others to form their own playlists from film music that has moved them. It opens a backtracking scenic tunnel of nostalgia like no other. I hope you throw this on wherever you are this long weekend...and follow up with watching these movies again or for the first time.  

1. Up in the Air - “Be Yourself” [1971 Demo] - Graham Nash.
I thought this a nice way to ease in. Jason Reitman’s follow-up to Juno and the one of a kind musical arrangement for that film locked him in place as a director whose film soundtracks I would automatically listen to going forward.

2. Adventureland - “Unsatisfied” - The Replacements. This Replacements fave puts us on a bus to NYC with Jessie Eisenberg going after fled lover Kristen Stewart. Amazing ending. The nostalgic power of this ‘80s soundtrack, complimented by the suburban sprawl of the Yo La Tengo score, makes it a true wonder.  

3. Half Nelson - “Shampoo Suicide” - Broken Social Scene - Sealed by the crescendo of this song, the expression on Ryan Gosling’s face, playing an L.A. teacher discovered in a crackhouse by one of his students, was enough to convince me of the emergence of a special actor.

4. Singles - “Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns” - Mother Love Bone. Singles is in the GOAT conversation of movie soundtracks and practically any of its songs could have been on here. It’s hard to talk about this one without getting misty. Not only does it wrap itself around a first kiss that quickly vanishes, it also marks the first time I had heard Mother Love Bone and the genius of frontman Andrew Wood – before I learned of his tragic story.

5. Vanilla Sky - “Doot-Doot” - Freur. This one caught my ear on two occasions, once in the elevator ride to Tom Cruise’s reckoning in Vanilla Sky [not on the released motion picture soundtrack], and then again in the American remake of the Swedish young vampire film, Let Me In. Hello, Chloe Grace Moretz.

6. Grosse Point Blank - “99 Luftballoons” - Nena. Ok, this one is a bit obvious, but I couldn’t resist. This is a sleeper soundtrack for a slept-on movie. Lots of goodies on here that you can find on the Spotify playlist for the film because the proper “various artists” compilation isn’t streamable.

7. Beautiful Boy - ”Wiseblood” [Johnny Jewel Remix] - Zola Jesus. This is an expertly coordinated soundtrack. The impact of this devastating true story about the relationship of a father and son through addiction is felt more deeply through its source music. This was a gut-punching example.  

8. Morvern Callar - “Spoon” - CAN. I just remember this being a pretty fucked up movie in the best way, and the music helped the effect, also in the best way.

9. Drive - “Tick of the Clock” - Chromatics. Accompanies Gosling again, taking you through one of the most riveting opening sequences ever, with our unflappable, mute hero eluding the police in a getaway car through industrial L.A. at night. Gangster.

10. Trainspotting - “Temptation” - New Order. I don’t even remember the recorded song playing in the film, but what I do remember is my heart aflutter when Kelly Macdonald sang her acapella rendition. Unfortunately, Spotify doesn’t have the 12” remaster.

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - “Heroes” - David Bowie. The pickup truck scene...c’mon. Good movies adapted from great books tend to have great music and this one follows suit.

12. The Royal Tenenbaums - “Needle in the Hay” - Elliott Smith. The connections between this somewhat hidden Elliott Smith gem and the artfully harrowing scene it accompanies are eerie and unsettling, to say the least. This brought a profound realization of the unique potency of Wes Anderson’s choice of music in his films.

13. Inside Llewyn Davis - “Green, Green Rocky Road” - Dave Van Ronk. This original by Van Ronk is taken on quite capably by Oscar Isaac in one of my favorite Coen brothers films. Thankfully, T Bone Burnett and The Coens decided to put both versions on the soundtrack.

14. Juno - “So Nice So Smart” - Kimya Dawson. Reitman leans on Kimya Dawson’s acoustic guitar and blunt humor to capture the at-once sophisticated and juvenile cheekiness of the interplay between Ellen Page and Michael Cera. The duo’s closing duet of Dawson’s “Anyone Else But You” brought tears.

15. Garden State - “Caring is Creepy” - The Shins. In a very cool affirmation of character identity, Zach Braff pulls the canvas drop cloth cover off the sidecar motorcycle his grandfather had left him...and he’s off. I admit that this was the first time I had heard The Shins. This soundtrack deserves every bit of acclaim it receives.

16. High Fidelity - “Dry the Rain”- The Beta Band. Playing a record store owner, John Cusack displays his phenomenal musical taste and snobbery in one stroke when he predicts selling five copies of a Beta Band record by playing this goldy in the shop. Customer: “Hey, who is that?”, Cusack: “The Beta Band.”, Customer: “It’s good.”, Cusack: “I know”.

17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - “It’s the Sun [Live/KCRW] - Polyphonic Spree. I honestly don’t remember this in the film – Jon Brion’s beautifully melancholic score kind of took over – but it was an uplifting delight during the soundtrack listen.

18. All the Real Girls - “Say Goodbye Good” - The Promise Ring. This might have been the closing credits track - and if so, what a way to fade to black. This rouser compliments the rest of the songs – both source and score by Micheal Linnen and David Wingo – on one of the best all-around soundtracks to a film I’ve ever heard. Too bad it’s not available on Spotify or Apple Music.

19. Dazed and Confused - “Paranoid” - Black Sabbath. One would have a good time putting together a playlist of songs used in Linklater films, and maybe I will. This perfect Sabbath tune punctuates a soundtrack so stacked with classics that they immediately released a second volume. I was itching to put “Low Rider” on here.

20. True Romance - “Outshined” - Soundgarden. An impossibly stoned Brad Pitt looking down the barrels of multiple shotguns with a sly grin. ‘Nuff said.

21. Lost in Translation - “Sometimes” - My Bloody Valentine. Anyone who has seen this film, and hopefully more than once, would agree that there’s a special harmony between the source music and its slow flowing impressionism. It made me appreciate Sofia Coppola’s taste in music while introducing me to a few artists, including this bloody great band.

22. 28 Days Later - “An Ending [Ascent]” - Brian Eno. This is perhaps my favorite Brian Eno track ever, and that’s saying a lot. It is so well placed in a travel sequence during this post-apocalyptic/viral outbreak classic, offering a moment of solace right before the inevitable.  



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Emma Griffiths
May 26th 2019

Loving this! If you’re interested in the business/creative process behind film soundtracks we have a lot of cool interviews on Synchblog: https://www.synchtank.com/blog/. We also have a dedicated music on TV playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/synchtank/playlist/063mqSWg8TauYMPyYGo2e9?si=iUUTEy_CQ3eLR0N-PrtISQ

can cats eat spinach
June 3rd 2019

Nice post and i like it. Thanks for sharing this to us. Keep updating the good post like this.