x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Seen and heard: let's hear it for original soundtracks

The announcement of the sequel to Garden State has stirred up excitement not only about the film, but also about the soundtrack. We take a look at successful soundtracks, from Trainspotting to Garden State via Jackie Brown and Singles.

Zach Braff's Garden State was one of the first and most successful indie soundtracks - and now he's making a sequel.
Zach Braff's Garden State was one of the first and most successful indie soundtracks - and now he's making a sequel.

When the actor and director Zach Braff recently announced a sequel to Garden State, speculation immediately started as to which artists would appear on the film’s soundtrack. Such was the effect of the film’s big-selling compilation – not only did it capture the alienation felt by the characters, it also introduced various little-known artists to a whole new audience.

Garden State (2004)

Any band would kill for the onscreen endorsement The Shins got in Garden State. Natalie Portman, playing the role of the ditsy Sam, implores her love interest Andrew (Braff) to listen to the band’s song New Slang, claiming: “It’ll change your life.” The haunting track not only kick-started the American band’s career but also acted as the gateway to a film soundtrack full of indie-music riches such as the British musical duo Zero 7 (with Sia Furler, of David Guetta’s Titanium fame), The Thievery Corporation and classics from Simon & Garfunkel and Nick Drake.

Trainspotting (1996)

With a playlist that focused on the UK’s 1990s underground and the Britpop music scene, this soundtrack was a triumph. From the techno-inspired Trainspotting by Primal Scream, Pulp’s jaunty Mile End and Damian Albarn’s first solo recording Closet Romantic, to oldies such as Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, the compilation reflects the film’s bare-knuckle chaos and moments of tender levity. The soundtrack will also never be forgotten for launching Underworld’s Born Slippy into a mid-1990s club favourite.

Singles (1992)

This compilation is a crash course in grunge music. The soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe film – about a bunch of hipsters living in a Seattle apartment – shone a spotlight on the city’s vibrant music scene with tracks by such local stalwarts as Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Sound Garden and a burgeoning group called Pearl Jam.

Rushmore (1999)

Like listening to a radio station from a hipster dream, the musical backing to the Wes Anderson cult hit blends lounge music with 1960s psychedelia, in addition to a few electronic vignettes from the Devo star Mark Mothersbaugh. As well as some obscure names such as the 1960s British pop-rockers Unit 4 + 2 and the French crooner Yves Montand (discovered by Edith Piaf in 1944), the soundtrack also boasts several favourites, from Cat Stevens’s Here Comes My Baby, The Who’s A Quick One While He’s Away and John Lennon’s Oh Yoko!

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Baz Luhrmann’s modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic incorporated a cracking soundtrack. The collection, featuring big-selling alternative artists, produced its own chart-topping hit with Garbage’s #1 Crush – not bad for a track originally written as a B-side. The Cardigans also scored a hit with the chirpy Lovefool and Des’ree scooped up more fans with the soulful Kissing You.

Jackie Brown (1997)

Quentin Tarantino’s film soundtracks often act as homages to a specific music genre and with Jackie Brown it was Blaxpoitation and 1970s soul. The inventive collection steers away from radio-worn classics and instead focuses on moody selections from well-known names. Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street still remains piercing four decades later and Johnny Cash’s live rendering of Tennessee Stud is an equal mix of bravado and sarcasm. The highlight of the soundtrack is Strawberry Letter 23 by The Brothers Johnson. The 1977 funk track has been sampled in later years by the likes of Beyoncé, Justice and Outkast.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

When was the last time a bona fide bluegrass album dominated the charts? The soundtrack to this Coen Brothers film introduced a whole new generation to an evocative genre that is heavy on both history and story. The album has traditional recordings from the 1920s through to the 1950s and also features remakes of standards by the current leading lights Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris.


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