Tag Archives: Soundtracks

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Soundtrack: I Still Feel the Same (Anti!)

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

I know this is going to make me sound like a crotchety old lady who can’t lighten up and have fun, but we need to talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack. After the first movie blew up and its playlist hit the top of the Billboard charts, I ranted against the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 soundtrack. As time passed, I worried that, by calling the songs overdone and overplayed, I might have been missing the point. Maybe they were supposed to be like that? In college, when it would get nice out and everyone would sit outside on blankets on the lawn with tiny radios to play music, my friends and I started piecing together what we called The Generic Mix Tape, with those decade-agnostic tracks that transcend musical taste, like “Sweet Home Alabama” or “The Hurricane.” Maybe I’d overlooked some subtle nuance, and director James Gunn had been commenting on those kinds of songs with his Guardians needle drops.

Enter Vol. 2. Nope, I was right the first time. (Warning: The rest contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.)

Continue reading Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Soundtrack: I Still Feel the Same (Anti!)

Top 6 90s Soundtrack Albums Featuring Elastica

Rob

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

I spent a lot of time preparing for our top songs of the ’90s list by just trying to remember all the songs I heard in the ’90s. Unlike when I put together a list of my favorite songs of the ’00s, I couldn’t just consult my iTunes/last.fm history. With CDs often priced in $15-20 range, teenagers like me in the pre-mp3 ’90s absorbed music through a disparate collection of sources: the radio, MTV, going to shows, browsing record stores, and many, many tapes (be they mixed, dubbed, or recorded from the radio).

One of the most popular delivery methods of popular music in that bygone era was the movie soundtrack album. While some movies still market soundtracks like they did back then (YA movie adaptations spring to mind), they definitely aren’t the original popular music delivery system they were back in the day. The episode of Parks & Rec where Millennial April is disdainful of Gen-Xer (and avowed Letters to Cleo fan) Ben’s collection of soundtracks on CD wounded me to my core.

parks-and-rec-soundtracks

I wanted to write something authoritative about how special soundtracks could be in the ’90s, but this list is the most I’ve ever agreed with a list on the internet that I didn’t contribute to. I didn’t want to be redundant, so I decided to narrow my focus a little, to just soundtracks featuring the band Elastica.

Why Elastica? To me this group of (mostly) women who kicked out late-70s/early-80s-style post-punk blasts of sound a decade before it was trendy again were the coolest band on earth in the ’90s. They also happened to show up on soundtrack albums as much as anyone else in the ’90s, and I wanted to celebrate them because none of their songs made our list of the top 90 songs of the 1990s.

This list only includes soundtracks where Elastica is included on the album. It was always annoying when a song appeared in a movie but not on the soundtrack and vice versa, but that’s a rant for another time.  The albums are ranked on three criteria, weighted on a case-by-case basis according to my whimsy:

  1. How good the movie is
  2. How good the Elastica song is
  3. How good the rest of the soundtrack is

Nowhere

6. Nowhere (1997)

What is this movie?
Wikipedia says it’s the final chapter of director Gregg Araki’s “Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy.” The box cover says it’s “90210 on acid.” I literally just discovered it existed when putting together this list so that’s all I got.

How is it?
I haven’t seen it, but if Akari’s other Teenage Apocalypse films are as unfunny, bleak, and heavyhanded as The Doom Generation (which I have seen), I’m in no rush. The trailer seems to confirm my suspicions.

What is the Elastica song?
“In The City” which as far as I can tell first appeared on this soundtrack. Unfortunately, the pile of scholarly research about Elastica I was hoping to reference for this piece doesn’t actually exist so I can’t be sure.

How is it?
It’s pretty good! Clocking at a tight 90 seconds, this ditty about ambivialance over a potential relationship would be right at home on Elastica’s classic self-titled debut. Points off because I was kind of hoping it was a cover of The Jam song with the same name. As much as I like Elastica, the Jam song is better.

How is the rest of the soundtrack?
Like a lot of compilations, it’s a mixed bag. Hole’s atonal, anti-rape culture screed “Dicknail” reminds me of when Morrissey plays “Meat is Murder” live in the sense that it’s both preaching to and turning off the choir at the same time. There’s also a 311 song that sounds like a parody of a 311 song and a Daft Punk remix of a Chemical Brothers song that’s so boring I don’t believe either group was actually involved. Bright spots include some dreamy-sounding tracks by Catherine Wheel and Lush as well as a Chuck D solo joint that’s a few years ahead of its time.

subUrbia

5. Suburbia (1997)

What is this movie?
Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Eric Bogosian’s play of the same name. It follows a group of (you guessed it) slackers over (you guessed it) the course of a single night. For the movie, Linklater transplanted the action to a suburb of (you guessed it) Austin, Texas.

How is it?
I don’t know! I feel kind of bad about my glib description above, but it’s interesting to remember there was a time when Linklater was a promising young filmmaker and not the acclaimed auteur he is today. It’s also weird how the director who made Boyhood made so many movies before that take place over the course of 24 hours or fewer. I’m trying to say I haven’t seen this or very many of Linklater’s films in general and I’m trying obfuscate that fact by making fun of him. This one isn’t entirely on me as the film is not widely available. It’s never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray. However, I am more familiar with Bogosian’s work on Law & Order than I am with his plays, so there’s a strong case to made that I’m the problem.

What is the Elastica song?
“The Unheard Music,” a cover of an X song featuring Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus

How is it?
So freaking good! Despite the fact that Malkmus and Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann retain the original’s boy/girl vocal interplay and melody, it sounds like an entirely different (and much more interesting) song. One awkward trivia tidbit about Elastica is that they were accused of plagiarism more than once by bands that obviously influenced them, like The Wire. However, I always thought what they did was different enough to constitute original work. It’s interesting here to hear them strip away X’s rockabilly roots and replace it with Wire-style robotic noise. Also, it reminds of my favorite songs on The Menace, Elastica’s underrated second (and final) album.

How is the rest of the soundtrack?
It might be good. Like the movie itself, it’s surprisingly hard to find. It doesn’t seem to be digitally available anywhere. Like, you can’t buy it on iTunes or the Amazon MP3 store, let alone stream it. Sonic Youth scored the film so there are a bunch of their songs in addition to Beck, Superchunk, and other things you would expect to find on there. A definite strike against the album is the cover, which is the only one on the list to not have the names of the bands. That was always an important piece of information when making soundtrack purchase decisions.

mallrats

4. Mallrats (1995)

What is this movie?
Kevin Smith’s followup to his classic no-budget debut Clerks (which almost received an NC-17 rating for its bawdy dialogue) follows some aimless twentysomethings as they try to win their girlfriends back during a hi-jinks filled day at the mall.
How is it?
I don’t know, but not because I haven’t seen it. I loved this movie as a teenager so much it felt like it was made for me. But much like my own attitudes and brand of humor from that era, I worry that Smith’s movies are a little on the juvenile side and haven’t aged well. I’m afraid to rewatch them and have them tarnish my memories.
What is the Elastica song?
“Line Up,” the first track from their self titled debut

How is it?
It’s great, but there’s not much to say about a song you already know.

How is the soundtrack in general?
Not bad! Like the movie itself, I had a lot of trouble properly rating this one. It is strangely, almost equally, divided between previously released songs (like “Line Up”) and  brand new tracks. New songs included an OK Bush song, a pretty good Belly ballad, and “Suzanne” by Weezer. “Suzanne” is not the best Weezer song of the ’90s (according to our list), but with its Beach Boys harmonies, crunchy guitars, and soaring solos, it may be the platonic ideal of a Weezer song.

The Mallrats soundtrack also had the very ’90s feature of breaking up the songs with tracks of dialogue from the movie. I consider this a plus.

deadmanoncampus

3. Dead Man On Campus (1998)

What is this movie?
MTV Films’ attempt at a National Lampoon/American Pie style comedy with their first R-Rated feature. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tom Everett Scott play college freshman who try to find a third roommate to commit suicide so they don’t fail all their classes.

How is it?
It’s bad! In the next entry I will refer to The Craft as good for what it is. Dead Man On Campus is not even good for what little it is. I think I laughed at one joke. While I was surprised to find Gosselaar had actual comic timing, there are so many bad performances from actors I generally like that I assume the director is to blame. Reread my plot synopsis. It’s actually dumber than that if you watch the whole thing. This movie’s release was timed with the start of the college school year, specifically right when I went to college for the first time. This was aimed right at me and missed completely. This is all compounded by the fact that as an MTV film, it was the recipient of of a large cross-promotional effort that was inescapable if you watched MTV at all.

What is the Elastica song?
“Human,” which would later show up on The Menace

How is it?
I feel like I’m not qualified to say. This came out during the five-year gap between Elastica’s only studio albums, so I was hungry for any Elastica at that point. It was dark, mid-tempo, over three minutes long, and introduced some new textures to their sound, so it showed some growth for the band.

How is the rest of the soundtrack?
About as good as a compilation with a Creed song can be. It was exec-produced by The Dust Brothers and put out by DreamWorks. This lead to some interesting choices like including songs by Self and Creeper Lagoon (two bands I loved at the time, but never got their due). I actually like Marilyn Manson’s cover of David Bowie’s “Golden Years.” This came out right around Mechanical Animals, which also sported a noticeable 70s Bowie influence. What I’m trying to say is that there were a few months in 1998 where I kind of liked Marilyn Manson. The highlight of the soundtrack for me is Blur’s “Cowboy Song,” where Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon give into to some of their worst musical instincts (falsetto, slide guitar) but come up with a genuinely fun song. Bonus points to whomever at DreamWorks thought it would be cute to put former couple Frischmann and Albarn’s bands back to back on the tracklist.

thecraft

2. The Craft (1996)

What is this movie?
A supernatural thriller about teen girl outcasts who become witches to deal with problems of adolescence but end up turning on each other.

How is it?
Good for what it is: a campy romp. Fairuza Balk gets a career-defining role. It plays as much as a superhero movie as it does a horror film. If that sounds like your type of thing, you would probably enjoy it. I do fear, however, that people who loved it growing up now overestimate how good it is in adulthood (much like another movie of the era starring Robin Tunney and having a memorable soundtrack, Empire Records).

What is the Elastica song?
“Spastica,” a B-side from the “Connection” single

How is it?
It’s a B-side for a reason. A pretty cool chorus without many lyrics, a pretty cool bass line, and some digs at a guy. Kind of a by-the-numbers Elastica song, but not fully baked. It would have been a weak point if it was included on one of their albums. Also, maybe just don’t use the word ‘spastic’ in this day and age unless you’re referring to very specific medical conditions.

How is the rest of the soundtrack?
Underrated! I don’t know why I don’t hate Love Spit Love’s cover of “How Soon Is Now” like most Smiths fans, but I enjoy it! I even enjoy Our Lady Peace’s cover of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” I even enjoy Our Lady Peace’s cover of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” That is not a typo; that sentence is there twice for emphasis. Letters to Cleo and Heather Nova also do surprisingly not-bad covers. It’s rounded out by a very ’90s list of artists including Jewel, Matthew Sweet, and Tripping Daisy.

trainspotting

1. Trainspotting (1996)

What is this movie?
Danny Boyle’s pitch black comedic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic novel about a group of ‘friends’ in Edinburgh who use any vice (but mostly heroin) to fill the void.
How is it?
A testament to how good this film is: I sometimes faint when having blood drawn, but I will watch this movie full of graphic depictions of people shooting up heroin at least once a year. Funny, well-acted, inventive, and real, it’s amazing how rewatchable a film with such dark subject matter is.

What is the Elastica song?
“2:1,” from their self-titled debut.

How is it?
It’s good, but notable for being maybe the only downtempo Elastica song from their early period. Also, it’s a bit of a bummer that this is a reused album track as opposed to something new. That being said, it perfectly scores a montage in the back half of the film.

How is the soundtrack in general?
Would it be hyperbole to say it is the most culturally significant movie soundtrack since Saturday Night Fever? Yes, but I’m saying it anyways. It was instrumental to popularizing britpop outside of Britain. The inclusion of “Lust For Life” introduced Iggy Pop the musician to a generation that just knew him as Nona Mecklenberg’s father on The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Unlike a lot of soundtracks of the time, the songs were really used as score and it was done to perfection.

REST OF THE 1990S TRACK MARKS: “WHAT’S THIS?” BY DANNY ELFMAN

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Starting next week, we’ll unveil our big list of the Best Songs of the 1990s. In the run-up to the reveal, we’re featuring some of our favorite songs that didn’t make the list through our regular Track Marks feature.

When the contributors to our upcoming ’90s list talked about how they put together their individual ballots, it was inevitable that the subject of how many avenues of discovering music there was in the ’90s came up. The radio played songs we wanted to listen to! The TV showed music videos! Just when all of that was starting to fade, we went to college and found the anything-goes world of a fast internet connection hooked up to peer-to-peer filesharing! The world was our musical oyster.

But, when going over the songs that actually made it onto our ballots, one path to discovering new music—one that’s very much still used today—kept coming up over and over: movie soundtracks. We’d discuss a song, then someone would talk about how it was used to perfection in a critical movie scene. I’m sure Rob and Jesse could write a Track Marks post about every single song on the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary (see our upcoming podcast for more on this); I myself almost did this post about “A.M. 180” by Granddaddy—which has been my only ringtone since my very first cell phone—a song I first heard in Boyle’s 28 Days Later. (And, you know, non-Boyle soundtracks are pretty good, too.)

But there’s a certain category of movie soundtracks that, while I’m sure we all listened to them on a loop in the ’90s, probably didn’t make it on our individual ballots: animated movie soundtracks. My long list had a few, including “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast and “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. My short list only had one: “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It’s one of the only animated-movie soundtrack songs I still listen to today; granted, it’s because I treat it as a Christmas song more than anything else. But the fact that it could have a second life in my annual iTunes Christmas playlist also speaks to its craft—I’m pretty picky about my holiday music. (Sorry, kids from South Park, your holiday songs don’t make the cut because your voices are too irritating.) To me, this one is up there with Vince Guaraldi.

What makes “What’s This?” unique for a holiday song is that it’s about looking at Christmas from the outside. Yeah, our traditions should seem both strange and incredible to an outside observer; seeing Jack Skellington’s awe invites us all to look at the holiday as if it’s our first time.

And then, of course, there’s Danny Elfman. I bet that man could write the instrumentation for 10 perfect Christmas songs in his sleep—he seems like I’d bet he’d want to add sleigh bells to nearly everything, holiday-related or not. It’s a harder hurdle to clear to seamlessly combine the musical aesthetics of Christmas and Halloween, like he does on other songs on The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. But his performance as Jack is what really makes “What’s This?” (I should be ashamed to admit that I’ve only heard Elfman sing through Jack Skellington; my knowledge of Oingo Boingo is nil.) Through his Skellington, we get the excitement of discovery, the wonderment of Christmas, the puzzlement over coming across an unknown culture, and then the burning desire to possess and control it all.

By the end of the ’90s, The Nightmare Before Christmas became shorthand for a certain kind of Hot Topic goth. But they don’t get to own “What’s This?” the way  Jack Skellington doesn’t get to own Christmas. It’s ours this time.

 

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Top Ten Summer Movies of 1995

Rob

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

1995 was a crazy summer, I think. As you listen to this podcast, you’ll discover that I didn’t ‘experience’ things so much in the 90’s as I read about them in Newsweek. That doesn’t stop me from breaking down the top ten domestic box office gross earners of ’95 with Jesse, Marisa, Nathaniel, and Sabrina.

We ask the tough questions:

What’s the best Die Hard?
Why did we like Batman Forever so much?
Do I even like movies?
So on and so forth. Enjoy!

How To Listen

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  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
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  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here.
  • You can listen in the player below.

TRACK MARKS: “Can’t Hardly Wait” by the Replacements

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

The first time I heard The Replacements I was not cool. It was 1999 and I was a shy, lonely twelve year old who had just rented Can’t Hardly Wait on VHS to watch at her grandmother’s house in Michigan. The movie itself was fun but forgettable and, I realized once I’d actually started high school, completely divorced from any of my own experiences. But I’ll always remember the second that opening chord progression hit over the closing credits, warm and inviting as a friend’s arm slung over your shoulder, the drums kicking in soon after, as the images of fake good times and memories scrolled by.

It’s a fairly straightforward song and, given its general upbeatness including the use of some funky horns, a bit of an anomaly in the Replacements catalog, something I learned the hard way after checking out Tim from the library not long after seeing the movie. Young me was unprepared for the more raucous, caustic side of the band but tastes change as we grow older and by the time I was in college I had discovered the pleasures of Let It Be and Pleased to Meet Me, on which “Can’t Hardly Wait” appears. As far as instant nostalgia goes, its Pavlovian effect is unparalleled for me. It’s about another time, sure – nobody has to worry about writing a letter tomorrow or borrowing a stamp when there’s text messaging. But it’s much more than that and it’s all in the title, which also provides the only lyrics to the chorus. “Can’t wait” is tossed-off excitement but “Can’t hardly wait”? That’s pure teenage ecstasy.

This Friday I will be seeing The Replacements in concert for the first time. I’m still not that cool and the show will likely not live up to whatever idea I have of the band from the old records I’ve listened to and loved. They’re not what they were, any more than I am what I used to be. But even so I can’t, well, you know the rest.


The Replacements play Forest Hills Stadium in Queens on Friday. Young old people and old young people will be there.

On the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soundtrack/Mix Tape: Maybe Just Don’t?

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

If there were any worries that Peter Quill & Co. didn’t get enough money, praise, love, etc. this weekend, everyone can rest assured knowing they were also a hit on the music charts: The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack album, cutely titled Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (awww), apparently debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200.

Now, I love the use of music in this movie. I appreciate that it focused on the pop-rock (and not disco) hits of the 1970s, a genre that hasn’t been done to death in recent movies the way 1980s pop has. I feel grateful that they were at least thinking of a way to ground the movie on Earth while the characters deal with space mumbo-jumbo. I also admire the way happy songs are used during sad or serious scenes, skirting right up to the line of irony without really crossing it—or, at least, without hitting the irony button too much.

It’s just…

[Note: Thar be spoilers beyond this point.]

Continue reading On the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soundtrack/Mix Tape: Maybe Just Don’t?