There are a lot of people who really get into original orchestral scores, but personally, I’m more interested in movies which use original source music in interesting ways throughout the film. That’s what this category is all about, source music used throughout movies. Bear in mind that this is meant to judge the use of music in the movie and the choices don’t necessarily reflect the music in the context of the official soundtrack album.
- Adventureland: The goal of Greg Mattola in compiling a soundtrack from adventureland is to paint a portrait of his main character’s life through music. The movie is set in the 80s, but he doesn’t always go for the obvious hits, the character is a bit of a music geek and he listens to more underground stuff like The Replacements and Husker Du, along with older stuff like The Velvet Underground and David Bowie. Of course some of the more crass music from the 80s like Falco and Inxs was unavoidable and it’s used appropriately in the movie.
- An Education: Period settings are of course something that many soundtrack people love to work with, but An Education takes the hard road and avoids oldies hits. Instead the movie is filled with some of the hits from 1961 that time forgot and then some original songs that have a pretty retro feel and sort of fit in with the musical fabric of the movie as a whole.
- The Hangover: It’s a truism without exception: everyone feels like their big shit when they go to Vegas. In order to convey this sense of coolness that “the gang” are feeling as they role down the strip or enter into their penthouse the film brings in a lot of epic Hip Hop cues by the likes of Usher, Kanye West and T.I. There are also other exiting rev-up songs like “Take It Off” by the Donnas. But this is a comedy and music is used for some pretty good gags too, like the effective use of the Flo Rida hit Right Round in the final gag and of course the film’s use of “In the Air Tonight.”
- Inglourious Basterds: Quentin Tarentino is of course the undisputed master of soundtracks, but setting a movie in World War 2 presented a problem: he had to make the movie feel somewhat in period. Of course he could be anachronistic once or twice as he did with Bowie’s Cat People, but too much of that would pose a problem. So, his solution was to take clips from older film scores by Italian masters like Ennio Moricone and re-purpose them.
- Watchmen: Superhero movies are not generally known for having good pop music behind them, but the Watchmen aren’t typical superheroes. While the movie is set in the 80s, it was the events of the tumultuous 60s that resonate and the soundtrack emphasizes this with hits from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkle, and Bob Dylan. The actual song selections aren’t always the boldest, but I admire that Snyder was willing to fill his blockbuster with appropriate oldies.