Today’s post is going to be a little text-heavy for “on rotation,” but I feel like there needs to be a little bit more of an explanation to these entries than just making a playlist. Even though the writers had Ben Wyatt (Parks and Rec) say, “I kind of look at it like it’s your favorite directors making a mix tape just for you” to be funny, I actually feel that way about soundtracks. Not that the producers or directors or whatever are making the mix for you specifically, but that they’re giving you a little peek into their brains.
I’m probably going to have to a do a series of these, honestly, because there are just so many soundtracks that have just stayed with me. But here’s Part One to start off:
(NOTE: the songs I choose aren’t necessarily my favorites on the album – some of them are – but they’re definitely ones that stick out significantly.)
1 – VANILLA SKY
I unabashedly love this movie and will do so until the end of time. It’s beautifully filmed, acted – I’m not even that big a fan of Tom Cruise, but he did an excellent job in Vanilla Sky – and directed, and it has one of the best soundtracks to come out of the early 2000s. It’s one of those rare unicorns that can be listened to from the beginning to end, although honestly? All of the soundtracks on this list are that way for me.
Tracks: “All the Right Friends” by R.E.M., “Everything in Its Right Place” by Radiohead, “Vanilla Sky” by Paul McCartney, “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel, “I Fall Apart” by Julianna Gianni, “Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)” by the Monkees, “Mondo ’77” by Looper (ft Francis MacDonald), “Have You Forgotten” by Red House Painters, “Directions” by Josh Rouse, “Afrika Shox” by Leftfield (ft Afrika Bambaataa), “Svefn-g-englar” by Sigur Rós, “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley, “Can We Still Be Friends” by Todd Rundgren, “4th Time Around” by Bob Dylan, “Elevator Beat” by Nancy Wilson, “Sweetness Follows” by R.E.M., “Where Do I Begin” by the Chemical Brothers; Additional Songs: “From Rusholme with Love” by Mint Royale, “My Robot” by Looper, “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane, “Keep On Pushing” by Curtis Mayfield, “Wrecking Ball” by Creeper Lagoon, “Earthtime Tapestry” by Spacecraft, “Indra” by Thievery Corporation, “Loops of Fury” by the Chemical Brothers, “Rez” by Underworld, “Too Good to be True” by Two Sandwiches Short of a Lunchbox and Andrea Parker, “One of Us” by Joan Osborne, “I Might Be Wrong” by Radiohead, “Wild Honey” by U2, “Western Union” by Five Americans, “Heaven” by the Rolling Stones, “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, “Summer’s End” by Elmer Bernstein, “The Healing Room” by Sinead O’Connor, “Njósnavélin (The Nothing Song)” by Sigur Rós, “Doot-Doot” by Freur, “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space” by Spiritualized, “Ágætis Byrjun” by Sigur Rós.
2 – THE SAINT
I have a few long-term celebrity crushes. One of these is Bruce Campbell, another is Pauly Shore (only in Son-in-Law), a third is Tom Everett, and the last is Val Kilmer. I found his Bad Boy Aesthetic in Top Gun intriguing (I was more of a Goose girl, myself), but then I saw The Saint. Oh, and did I see The Saint. This is actually the first movie that I saw that made me think I might be bisexual, e.g. Elisabeth Shue. Phew, anyway, this is the album that introduced me to European electronica and house music, and a few of these songs may have shown up on earlier “on rotation” posts, for which I regret nothing.
Tracks: “The Saint Theme” by Orbital, “6 Underground (Nellee Hooper Edit)” by Sneaker Pimps, “Oil 1” by Moby, “Atom Bomb” by Fluke, “Roses Fade (Mojo Mix)” by Luscious Jackson, “Setting Sun (Instrumental)” by the Chemical Brothers, “Pearl’s Girl” by Underworld, “Out of my Mind” by Duran Duran, “Da Funk” by Daft Punk, “Dead Man Walking” by David Bowie, “Polaroid Millenium” by Superior, “A Dream Within a Dream” by Dreadzone, “In the Absence of Sun” by Duncan Sheik, “Before Today” by Everything But the Girl
3 – WILD AT HEART
Okay, so while I don’t have a crush on Nicolas Cage, he is a treasure. I would love to sit around, drinking whiskey and smoking pot, and just talk about random nerdy shit for hours with him. I also adore David Lynch, so when you combine the two of them, with a splash of the lovely Laura Dern? Well, I’m going to love whatever movie comes out of it.
Tracks: “Im Abendrot” by Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, “Slaughterhouse” by Powermad, “Cool Cat Walk” by Angelo Badalamenti and Kinny Landrum, “Love Me” by Nicolas Cage, “Baby Please Don’t Go” by Them, “Up in Flames” by Koko Taylor, “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, Be-Bop-a-Lula” by Gene Vincent, “Smoke Rings” by Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, “Perdita” by Rubber City, “Blue Spanish Sky” by Chris Isaak, “Dark Spanish Symphony” by Angelo Badalamenti and Kinny Landrum, “Dark Spanish Symphony” by Rubber City, “Dark Lolita” by Angelo Badalamenti and Kinny Landrum, “Love Me Tender” by Nicolas Cage
4 – COWBOY BEBOP
I just decided that I’m going to have to do a Cowboy Bebop challenge at some point. Possibly this November? I don’t know, we shall see. I completed one on my old blog, but damn, I still have strong feelings about this show, and a lot of it is brought up whenever I listen to the soundtracks, which I do. Often.
Anyway, this isn’t a movie, it’s an anime series that has somehow managed to remain relevant and beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting, despite the fact it’s a) only 26 episodes (and a movie) long and b) from 1998. That’s some major staying power, and a lot of it, I think, has to do with the stellar soundtrack by Yoko Kanno.
Tracks: There are at least seven or eight (probably ten, to be honest) soundtracks, so just google “Cowboy Bebop soundtracks” and go nuts. Yoko Kanno is a machine.
5 – BATMAN FOREVER
The Batman Forever soundtrack changed me, and I am not speaking in hyperbole. It began my decades-long infatuation with Val Kilmer, something I casually mentioned earlier, but it also jump-started my gradual transition from standard pop fare (and Christian music) into the eclectic weirdness that it is now. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with enjoying pop music – Lord knows I incorporate it into my playlists often – but I remember being so mesmerized with different takes on what music could do.
Tracks: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2, “One Time Too Many” by PJ Harvey, “Where Are You Now” by Brandy, “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal, “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” by Massive Attack and Tracey Thorn, “Nobody Lives without Love” by Eddi Reader, “Tell Me Now” by Mazzy Star, “Smash It Up” by the Offspring, “There Is a Light” by Nick Cave, “The Riddler” by Method Man, “The Passenger” by Michael Hutchence, “Crossing the River” by the Devlins, “8” by Sunny Day Real Estate, “Bad Days” by the Flaming Lips
6 – ROMEO + JULIET
I’m 100% positive songs off this soundtrack have shown up on “on rotation” before, and there’s a good reason for that. Baz Luhrmann just has an understanding of how music works in movies and manages to pick legitimately the best possible pieces for each scene. It’s a mastery that other directors haven’t quite managed to achieve (see also: Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge).
Tracks: “#1 Crush” by Garbage, “Local God” by Everclear, “Angel” by Gavin Friday, “Pretty Piece of Flesh” by One Inch Punch, “Kissing You” by Des’ree, “Whatever (I Had a Dream)” by Butthole Surfers, “Lovefool” by the Cardigans, “Young Hearts Run Free” by Kym Mazelle, “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” by Quindon Tarver, “To You I Bestow” by Mundy, “Talk Show Host” by Radiohead, “Little Star” by Stina Nordenstam, “You and Me Song” by the Wannadies
My roommate in college refused to believe that this soundtrack wasn’t composed of real songs from the 1960s, although I think it was partly a joke after a while because she wasn’t stupid, just bizarrely stubborn about trivial things. But that’s a completely different story for a different post. Anyway, That Thing You Do! is one of those formative movies that I watched and completely absorbed – I still quote Steve Zahn’s Lenny frequently, and almost nobody catches it – and even songs that aren’t “That Thing You Do” on the soundtrack are catchy and fun. I would like to personally thank Tom Hanks one day for this album, honestly.
Tracks: “Lovin’ You Lots and Lots” by the Norm Wooster Singers, “That Thing You Do!” by the Wonders, “Little Wild One” by the Wonders, “Dance with Me Tonight” by the Wonders, “All My Only Dreams” by the Wonders, “I Need You (That Thing You Do)” by the Heardsmen, “She Knows It” by the Heardsmen, “Mr. Downtown” by Freddy Frederickson, “Hold my Hand, Hold My Heart” by the Chantrellines, “Voyage Around the Moon” by the Saturn 5, “My World Is Over” by Diane Dane, “Drive Faster” by the Vicksburgs, “Shrimp Shack” by Cap’n Geech & the Shrimp Shack Shooters, “Time to Blow” by Del Paxton, “That Thing You Do! (Live at the Hollywood Television Showcase)” by the Wonders
(NOTE: All of these are fictional groups, y’all. Jess, you know it’s true.)
Everybody had a teen movie they related to growing up, and yep, 10 Things I Hate About You was that movie for me. Both my mother and sister let me know that I was Kat, and I was okay with that since she was cool as shit and didn’t take any, although I think now I’m a combination of her and Ms. Perky? This soundtrack was a little different from what I usually listened to, but it expanded my musical interests, specifically my obsession with Joan Armatrading.
Tracks: “I Want You to Want Me” by Letters to Cleo, “F.N.T.” by Semisonic, “I Know” by Save Ferris, “Your Winter” by Sister Hazel, “Even Angels Fall” by Jessica Riddle, “New World” by Leroy, “Saturday Night” by Ta-Gana, “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton, “Dazz” from Brick, “The Weakness in Me” by Joan Armatrading, “War” by the Cardigans, “Wings of a Dove” by Madness, “Cruel to Be Kind” by Letters to Cleo, “One More Thing” by Richard Gibbs
9 – CITY OF ANGELS
Well, damn, Val Kilmer and Nic Cage show up twice here. Oh, well. This album is really beautiful, y’all: so heartfelt and downbeat and just a great sip-coffee-and-stare-at-the-rain experience. I know that “Iris” is undoubtedly the most well-known song on this soundtrack, but every other one should have gotten as much attention.
Tracks: “If God Will Send His Angels” by U2, “Feelin’ Love” by Paula Cole, “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix, “Uninvited” by Alanis Morissette, “Mama, You Got a Daughter” by John Lee Hooker, “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls, “I Grieve” by Peter Gabriel, “I Know” by Jude Cristobal, ” Further on Up the Road” by Eric Clapton, “An Angel Falls” by Gabriel Yared, “The Unfeeling Kiss” by Gabriel Yared, “Spreading Wings” by Gabriel Yared, “City of Angels” by Gabriel Yared.
There are actually two soundtracks that were released for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I’m going to focus on the first one. While as an adult I can appreciate (and even like a lot of the songs more) the second album, the one that connected with me more was the original release. I used to just sit up in my bedroom with my door closed and my like 99+1 (why couldn’t they just say 100?) CD player and would put this on repeat, usually when I was mad at my parents. Which was often. So essentially, I knew all of the words and still do.
Tracks: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme” by Nerf Herder, “Teenage FBI” by Guided by Voices, “Temptation Waits” by Garbage, “Strong” by Velvet Chain, “I Quit” by Hepburn, “Over My Head” by Furslide, “Lucky” by Bif Naked, “Keep Myself Awake” by Black Lab, “Virgin State of Mind” by K’s Choice, “Already Met You” by Superfine, “The Devil You Know (God Is a Man)” by Face to Face, “Nothing But You” by Kim Ferron, “It Doesn’t Matter” by Alison Krauss and Union Station, “Wild Horses” by the Sundays, “Pain” by Four Star Mary, “Charge” from Splendid, “Transylvanian Concubine” by Rasputina, “Close Your Eyes” by Christophe Beck