The Formative Years – Soundtracks part II
Let’s start the second part of the series dedicated to movie companion albums off with a bona fide classic:
Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly soundtrack is another example where the soundtrack has been tailored to become an integral part of the story telling, at times challenging the script and expertly balancing the link between the musical portrayal of the complexities and ambiguities of the protagonists’ lives and a fantastically sensuous, bittersweet and fun listening experience.
The soundtrack to David Fincher’s Fight Club, written specifically for the movie by the Dust Brothers is one of the few instrumental soundtracks that work for me outside the confines of the film, as it is not only a time capsule of the darker and better moments of the trip hop genre of the nineties, but it effortlessly evokes a wide array of feelings that reverberate with the alienating core themes of the movie.
Then there are movies like Judgment Night, which bore for the time and age new smash-up collaborations between genre-crossing rock and hip-hop acts that document the context of when the forgettable movie was incepted. Despite being a deliberately planned marketing coup, the high calibre of the contributors result in a whole that is much more than the sum of the individual parts of rhymes and riffs would suggest.
In my world, finding a flaw within The Beatles’ oeuvre would be nigh impossible and their A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack is an example par excellence for the cinematic emission being overshadowed by a fantastic soundtrack. While their transition into light entertainment could have gone terribly wrong, it is testament to their creativity that both the soundtrack and the feelgood movie elevated their career to new heights.
From when I first watched it at the movies to this day, Oliver Stone’s infamous love story Natural Born Killers has not lost impact as it pushed boundaries in every way possible – from the way it was shot via the dialogues, parodies and symbolism to the sensory overload. No matter what Stone’s actual intent was, it remains a unique piece of cinema with an even better soundtrack. With Trent Reznor at the helm of the curation, the result is a collage of twenty-seven tracks interweaved with skits and snippets that creates both a subtle yet schizophrenic sonic equivalent to channel-flipping while still managing to convey a cohesive whole.
In an idiosyncratic way, Reznor skilfully caters to the younger testosterone driven audience as well as an arthouse crowd, with specifically Leonard Cohen’s, Diamanda Galas’ and Nine Inch Nails’ contributions accentuating the core themes of the movie and the underlying angst of existence.