Monday, January 25, 2010

Glee: Volume 2

"I'm very young, and it's hard for you to stand close to me."

Ah, you thought I wasn't going to do it. How little you know me. Yes, these soundtracks deserve their own posts, deal with it. Just like the first volume, the second volume has many great tracks. Classic Rock songs like "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and "Jump." Modern songs like "Smile" by Lily Allen and "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson. Seriously, I can't wait for this show to come back on the air. Speaking of, new episodes start airing after the Winter Olympics on April 13th!!!

BEST MASH-UP: Don't Stand So Close (Young Girl) Mr. Schue to Rachel

As the quote at the top suggests, Rachel has developed a school girl crush on her Glee Club advisor. Emma (the schools guidance counselor, who coincidentally has a crush on Will herself) suggests that he let Rachel down easily by singing her a song that accurately depcits how he feels about his much younger student. For all of you that aren't familiar with the idea of a mash up, that is basically when you take two songs and "mash" them together. Taking parts of each and creating a whole new song. There are several mash ups on this show, but this is by far the best. And the response from Rachel and Emma is priceless. Love Mr. Schue!


Ok, so this will probably be the only song that will ever fit this category, but man, does it fit perfectly! Picture this, the High School "It Couple," the quarterback and the cheerleader, are having a baby. Its time to tell the parents, but the cheerleader doesn't want to do it - my man Finn steps up the plate. With the encouragement of his fabulous friend Kurt, Finn decides to break the news to Quinn's parents through song, and at the same time tell the new mommy-to-be that he's honored to be the father. A sweet thought, but supremely awkward. This is like watching a train wreck in progress, you want to reach through that tv screen and stop him, but you can't help but watch (from behind your hands that is). Oh Finn, you're so hopeless.

Coming Soon... Volume 3

Soundtrack Listing:
1. Proud Mary
2. Endless Love
3. I'll Stand By You
4. Don't Stand So Close (Young Girl)
5. Crush
6. (You're) Having My Baby
7. Lean On Me
8. Don't Make Me Over
9. Imagine
10. True Colors
11. Jump
12. Smile (by Lily Allen)
13. Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
14. And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going
15. Don't Rain On My Parade
16. You Can't Always Get What You Want
17. My Life Would Suck Without You

Glee: Volume 1

"That Rachel chick makes me want to light myself on fire, but she can sing."

One of the best shows on television, Glee has brought us not just one great soundtrack but two amazing albums! In the past two weeks Glee has brought home two prestigious awards: Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy, and the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble - Comedy. They've won several other awards and have been nominated for individual acting honors. Top honors have gone to the shows to biggest stars, Lea Michele (Rachel) and Matthew Morrison (Will aka Mr. Schuester).

It doesn't really need to be said, but I'm in love with this series. This show has a little bit of everything, socially conscious issues (gay rights and teen pregnancy to name a few), high school drama (including slushies to the face), and of course singing. But its not like your mother's musical, people don't just randomly burst into song. "The New Directions" glee club is working to compete against other show choirs around the state. So why not choose songs that pertain the life stories of the kids? These Glee-clubbers aren't historically the most popular kids in school, but the club is turned around with the amazing vocals of Rachel (Michele) and her leading man, the schools quarterback Finn (Cory Monteith). Plus, the dreamy Mr. Schuester (Morrison) makes all the girls swoon. Seriously, what's not to love?

BEST SOUNDTRACK SIGNATURE SOUND: Don't Stop Believing - Cast of Glee

The song that started it all. How could the signature song be anything else? This great version of Journey's classic song, "Don't Stop Believing," features Lea and Cory, with back up vocals by the rest of the Glee Club. At the end of the pilot episode, the club leaves us wanting more by debuting their new sound. Glee club isn't so nerdy anymore. What makes this so great is the combination of instrumentals, strong lead vocals, and a superb background "boppers." Ok so I know that probably isn't the technical term, but think of Do-wop groups that make the instrumentals with their voices. There is quite a bit of that in this song and it really compliments the arrangement.

BEST GUEST STAR PERFORMANCE: Maybe This Time (featuring Kristin Chenoweth)

So, this might not be everyone's favorite song (but honestly there are so many to choose from, I have to be selective). This is a song from the Broadway Musical Cabaret, perfect for the smallest guest star with the biggest voice - EVER! Kristin plays a high school drop out that went to school with Mr. Schue back in the day. After losing the Glee Clubs star, Rachel, to the schools musical Will is desperate to find a replacement that can fill her solo's. He remembers Kristin, aka April Rhodes, and asks her to enroll for her final year of high school. After being deemed too old by the rest of the club, April steps up and belts out this Broadway number. This is also a bit of a duel between Rachel, as she is auditioning for the musical, and April, auditioning for the Glee Club. Two great voices, one great song.

Stay tuned... Volume 2, coming soon!

Soundtrack Listing:
1. Don't Stop Believing
2. Can't Fight This Feeling
3. Gold Digger
4. Take a Bow
5. Bust Your Window
6. Taking Chances
7. Alone
8. Maybe This Time
9. Somebody To Love
10. Hate On Me
11. No Air
12. You Keep Me Hanging On
13. Keep Holding On
14. Bust A Move
15. Sweet Caroline
16. Dancing With Myself
17. Defying Gravity
18. I Say A Little Prayer

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

"Have you ever had a secret you couldn't tell anyone?"

Well, I have a secret, but its probably not the one your expecting. Last week I was surprised to see that the official soundtrack has already been released for the much anticipated sequel to Twilight, New Moon. This is no secret, for sure, but I love this series and can't wait to wear my "Team Edward" shirt at the 12am premiere on November 20th - game on Elisa! For me, the soundtrack release is almost as exciting as seeing the movie itself. The first soundtrack in this series featured a great Indie Pop/Rock mix that introduced great bands such as Muse and Mutemath to the masses. For a movie that had a minuscule budget, they were able to produce a stellar soundtrack.

Now for the secret... this soundtrack is HORRIBLE! How can I accurately describe my disappointment? The movie centers around the main character, Bella, being extremely depressed - um seriously, my favorite kind of music... depressing. This was a recipe for a great soundtrack, but no, they had to royally screw it up! Sophomore records for soundtracks are almost as deadly as for recording artists, apparently. Efforts were taken to re-create the Indie-ness of the first soundtrack by including artists such as Death Cab For Cutie and OK Go. However, I feel they failed miserably.

And "The Worst" awards go to...

WORST SOUNDTRACK SIGNATURE SOUND: "Meet Me On the Equinox" Death Cab For Cutie

As the headlining song for the movie, this Death Cab rock ballad totally fails to live up to its predecessor "Decode" by Paramore. Not even the silly music video that displays scenes from the upcoming movie can save this one (although it is the only reason to watch... ONCE!). Sorry to all the fans of this band, I've just never been able to really get into their music, and this is no exception. A total of three notes are played and sung throughout the entire 3 minutes and 40 seconds, where's the intrigue in that? Granted, I have not seen the movie yet, maybe this music fits perfectly within the New Moon world. But mostly I think the soundtrack gets a huge F-.

WORST SONG BY A GREAT BAND: A White Demon Love Song by The Killers

Don't get me wrong, I love The Killers hence the "Great Band" reference. That being said, when listening to their music, you have to accept that they are slightly "odd." While I don't loathe this song, I don't love it either. Its quirky, but lacks that "je ne sais quoi" that I have come to expect from the band. There are so many other Killers songs that could be used I just don't understand, why this one? In another setting, I might have been more accepting of this unique ballad. Overall, it comes down to being another random choice in a string of weird and awkward musical selections. Sorry Killer, you lose.

BEST OF THE WORST: New Moon (The Meadow) by Alexandre Desplat

There had to be a redeeming factor somewhere in here, right? Well there is one song that fits the category perfectly. This is an instrumental piece by Alexadre Desplat. It features a solo piano composition that plays like a sweetly romantic love song. Twilight's first attempt at an instrumental score was monumentally unsuccessful. Carter Burwell had limited resources, granted, but the music he composed was strange and failed to mimic the sounds that were described by Stephenie Meyer in her books. Clearly, this was a feeling that a lot of people shared, including the musical director for New Moon. This new Meadow melody is sweet, simple, and is completely believable that Edward wrote and played it for his Bella.

1. Meet Me at the Equinox by Death Cab For Cutie
2. Friends by Band of Skulls
3. Hearing Damage by Thom Yorke
4. Possibility by Lykke Li
5. A White Demon Love Song by The Killers
6. Satallite Heart by Anya Marina
7. I Belong to You (New Moon Remix) by Muse
8. Roslyn by Bon Iver & St. Vincent
9. Done All Wrong by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
10. Monsters by Hurrican Bells
11. The Violet Hour by Sea Wolf
12. Shooting the Moon by Ok Go
13. Slow Life (with Vicotria Legrand) by Grizzly Bear
14. No Sound But the Wind by Editors
15. New Moon (The Meadow) by Alexandre Desplat
16. Solar Midnite (Bonus Track) by Lupe Fiasco
17. All I Believe In (Bonus Track) by The Magic Numbers
18. Die Fledermaus - Duettino: Ach, Ich Darf Nicht Hin Zu Dir by APM Orchstra

Monday, August 31, 2009

True Blood

"I wanna do bad things with you."

Greetings from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina! I've taken a little while to make the best choice for my next post and decided on the "True Blood Soundtrack (Season 1)." I debated whether to include this album or not for some time now. However, I kept coming back to it, and I've decided - I really enjoy this soundtrack, just like I enjoy the series. Which, by the way, has its second season finale on Sunday Sept. 6th at 9pm on HBO. This season has been great and will surely end with a bang! This soundtrack has several of the great songs that are featured throughout the shows and also featured during the closing credits each week. While listening to this soundtrack I had a hard time defining the type of music that is included. Its not country... which I pretty much despise, sorry just not my cup of tea. And its also not conventional rock. I've decided to call it Southern Rock. It makes you feel like you are in the swamps of Louisiana and are listening to a band made up of good 'ole boys that happen to be great musicians. And since I happen to find myself in the south right now, what better place to pay tribute to a great collection of Southern Rock.

BEST REMAKE: Play With Fire performed by Cobra Verde (originally by the Rolling Stones)

While I'm sure Stone's diehards will probably hate me for this, I absolutely love this version of the classic "Play With Fire." Cobra Verde's version is even darker than the original, with a slow, deep drawl of the bands lead vocalist. The music is also extremely simple, piano, bongos, and a few other various percussion items that I'm not quite adept enough to identify. All these components together make for an eerily delicious song. Its also perfect for the series. Its dark, slightly "scary," and overall badass. Perfection.


How could it be anything else?! This is an AWESOME song. Like the previous song, it perfectly sets the tone for the True Blood television series. The creator of the series, Alan Ball, found this song as he was trying to find musical inspiration for the show. According to the musical supervisor, Ball came across this "wickedly badass" song on itunes:

"After hearing Jace's drawled combination of romance, sex, menace, and humor, True Blood's musical bloodline was set..."

Like other series opening credit songs (think Friends, Sex and the City, etc.) this song will always be synonymous with True Blood.

BEST NEW ARTIST: CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis

This great band adds four songs (to the Bonus Track version of the soundtrack - MUST GET!!!!) to the True Blood soundtrack. Bleed 2 Feed, the first of his songs to be included was written exclusively for the album once he heard his music was being considered. These songs were the main reason I dubbed the theme of the soundtrack "Southern Rock." There is definitely country inspired music within his songs, but mostly they feature strong rock beats. I dare you to listen to these songs and not bop your head - you won't even realize that you're doing it, until the songs over and you are left wanting more. Definitely look this guy up. Check out his two albums on iTunes: C.C. Adcock, and Lafayette Marquis - they're both straight out of the bayou.

1. Bad Things by Jace Everett
2. Bleed 2 Feed by CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis
3. Lake Charles by Lucinda Williams
4. Give It Up by Lee Dorsey
5. Swampblood by Th' Legendary Shack-Shakers
6. Play With Fire by Cobra Verde
7. Just Like Heaven by The Watson Twins
8. Christine's Tue (A.k.a Devin In Disguise) by The Flying Burrito Brothers
9. Two by Ryan Adams
10. Strange Love by Slim Harpo
11. From a Whisper to a Scream by Allen Toussaint
12. I Don't Wanna Know by Dr. John
13. The Golden State (Feat. Kathleen Edwards) by John Doe
14. Bones by Little Big Town
15. Maison Creole (Live At Merlotte's) [Bonus Track] by CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis
16. I'm Ready (Live At Merlotte's) [Bonus Track] by CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis
17. Fool to Care (Live At Merlotte's) [Bonus Track] by CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis
18. Whiskey's Gone (Live) [Bonus Track] by Zac Brown Band
19. Jesus Asked Me Out Today (Bonus Track) by Amanda Jane and The God Rockets

ps - if you are dying for more True Blood music, be sure to go to the series homepage (click on my blog title to take you there). They break down every episode and list out each song that has been featured in every episode. Its a great site with a lot of fun information!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meet Joe Black

As I mentioned briefly in my first post, choosing the name of a blog is almost as important as the purpose of the blog - in my opinion. Its very much like a mission statement. What better title than a quote from my favorite movie and favorite movie soundtrack. Yes, Meet Joe Black is my favorite movie. I know, most people can't stand this movie but I personally love it, and perhaps its because of the beautiful instrumental score that accompanies the 3 hour long movie. This quote specifically comes as Anthony Hopkin's character is trying to describe love to his daughter. He encourages her to look harder for real love, love that makes you, "sing with rapture and dance like a dervish."

Composed by Thomas Newman the score perfectly compliments this 'other-worldly' movie. He combines the use of strings, a small brass section in major crescendo's, delicate piano pieces, and a smooth flute melody to express all of the emotions of the film. At times the score is very soft, almost quiet, and within its silence speaks volumes. The main melody that winds in and out of each track has been stuck in my head since I saw the movie all those years ago - yes it is that good. If you don't enjoy classical music (honestly I don't see how you couldn't but to each their own) then you probably won't like this choice. However, if you are reading a great novel, pop this one in and you may find your reading enhanced! Other works of Thomas Newman includes "The Horse Whisperer" and "Shawshank Redemption."

BEST SONG/SCENE COMBINATION: That Next Place - Final Scene

In this final scene of the movie, we find the three main characters closing one chapter of their lives and opening another. They are at the grand estate of the family in New York State during the 65th birthday party of William Parish. Probably the most lavish party I've ever seen, even by movie standards. While William and Joe look down on the party, fireworks begin to light up the sky, creating a ceiling of sparkles overhead. At this point the steady score rumbles into a beautiful crescendo (aka gets louder for music laymen's). Its an amazing combination and truly wraps up the entire movie nicely. I've included a clip to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, however, was only able to find it in Spanish (I told you, no one else seems to like this movie!) - so please don't judge on the strange Spanish voices of Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt.

BEST SOUNDTRACK SIGNATURE SOUND: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow & What A Wonderful World" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Seriously, if you haven't heard this Hawaiian's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World you have been in a cave your whole life. But since it is such a great rendition I had to give it a "Best of" award. The song is featured during the credits of the movie, but an instrumental version is also played during the party that was mentioned above. This song fits perfectly in Meet Joe Black because of its hopeful tone about life. Both songs are about seeing the beautiful in life and finding a way to get there - which is exactly what the film is trying to convey. Sadly, Israel died in 1997, but remains one of the most influential Hawaiian artists.

1. Yes
2. Everywhere Freesia
3. Walkaway
4. Meet Joe Black
5. Peanut Butter Man
6. Whisper of a Thrill
7. Cheek To Cheek
8. Cold Lamb Sandwich
9. Fifth Ave
10. Frequent Thing
11. Death & Taxes
12. Served Its Purpose
13. Sorry For Nothing
14. Mr Bad News
15. Let's Face The Music & Dance
16. Question
17. Someone Else
18. What A Wonderful World
19. That Next Place
20. Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World performed by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Friday, August 14, 2009

500 Days... Redux

So, it was brought to my attention that I didn't really let you all (all one of you anyway) know what my favorite songs were on this soundtrack and why. Well, in light of this glaring error, I've decided to include "Best of..." awards for each soundtrack I include on this forum. The "Best of..." category's may vary from soundtrack to soundtrack, but they will have overlap between each selection. Maybe even a year end recap and a "Best of the Best of's..." awards will be in order. So here we go...

BEST SONG/SCENE COMBINATION: "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates

Ok, this one is extremely cheesy, but its meant to be! The reason this song/scene combination takes the cake is because as soon as I hear the opening few guitar chords, I instantly picture Joseph Gordon Levitt with a cute little animated blue bird resting on his hand. Basically this scene is the "big musical number" of the movie and comes directly after a successful night with the main characters love interest. I dare you to watch this scene and not giggle to yourself and tap your toes. Impossible. Now anytime I catch wind of this song, I will always think of 500 Days.

BEST NEW ARTIST (well to me anyway): Wolfmother

Wolfmother is not really 'new' to the world, but they are new to me. Their contribution to this album is a catchy Rock/Folk mix titled, "Vagabond." While this particular song definitely skews to the Folk side, the majority of their music tends to akin a 70's Classic Rock group. Think Led Zepplin meets Queens of the Stone Age. Their most recent album, and the one that includes Vagabond, is a self-titled album "Wolfmother" from 2007, and can be found on iTunes for $10.99. This October they will be releasing a new album, "Cosmic Egg." While there were several artists on this album that could have been taken this particular category, Wolfmother in my opinion has the best overall sound. And who doesn't love Classic Rock? We need more of it in the world. Nouveau Classic Rock, I like it.

"Us" and "Hero" by Regina Spektor

Yes two songs. But through the unique jazzy vocals of Regina Spektor, these two songs exude all of the emotions that the movie 500 Days goes through. "Us" is very upbeat with its staccato piano and violin instrumentals and Regina's bright vocals adding to the overall effect. This is the musical equivalent to the excitement of falling in love that you feel with Tom and Summer. "Hero," on the other hand, expresses the surprise and shock when a great love falls apart. The minor chords of the piano and haunting vocals take you on a ride through a break up. The essence of the movie, falling in love, breaking up, and moving on from it all. Check and check with "Us" and "Hero."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

500 Days of Summer

"This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story."

So, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon and start my own blog. I know everyday people are now inundated with new "bloggers." So why in the world would anyone want to read an online diatribe by yours truly? Well, honestly I'm not too sure. However, I thought to myself, if there is something out there that I find particularly interesting, maybe just maybe there is at least one other person who does as well. Several of my friends have blogs, and their friends have blogs, so why not me.

The key to all of this is to choose a topic. Ah the topic! This is the biggest decision, besides the name of your blog, and is truly the key to any blogs success. You have to write about something that you are sincerely passionate about, no luke warm feelings. There are a lot of things I like, but what do I love. And more importantly what do I love enough to write entry after entry, keep me coming back for more if you will.

After a session of talking movies and music with my friend Rick today, I realized I had my answer right there. Movie soundtracks, I love movie soundtracks. Soundtracks are the souls of movies, and they can make or break a movie in my opinion. If you don't believe me, next time you watch your favorite movie... PAY ATTENTION... you probably love the music too. Whether it is an instrumental score, random gatherings of various artists, or a compilation of one musicians songs, the movie would be nothing without its musical accompaniment.

Beyond adding emotion and soul to a movie, it can also be a great avenue to finding new artists. Soundtracks are like a pandora radio station, they put together songs and artists that have a similar feel - and generally speaking if you like one song on a soundtrack you will probably like a vast majoirty of them. I recognize this is not always the case, but keep an open mind, you might be surprised. I guarantee that at least one artist on any soundtrack you enjoy will spark your interest enough to find more music they've made. Soundtracks open doors in your musical world: walk through.

My other favorite thing about soundtracks is that every time I hear a song from a movie, or ideally listen to the soundtrack in its entirety, I get to relive the movie all over again. Movies, good ones anyway, leave an impression. Scenes are etched into your memory and the music that is played in the background of those scenes can help trigger those memories. You get the chance to experience those emotions all over again anytime you want.

Ok ok, so lets get into the nitty gritty. As you can tell by the title of this post, my soundtrack of choice today is "500 Days of Summer." First of all let me say, if you haven't seen this movie, you MUST go out and see it today. It is absolutely an amazing movie. Its funny, sad, silly, and clever - but is most definitely not first date material! The very first 'song' on the soundtrack is also the opening narration of the movie. This sets the stage for all of the songs you hear thereafter. From the unique vocals of Regina Spektor, the vintage sound of The Smiths, to the obvious inclusion a little Hall & Oates, this musical version of the movie takes you through all the highs and lows of the main character, Tom Hansen.

1. A Story of Boy Meets Girl - Mychael Danna & Rob Simonsen
2. Us - Regina Spektor
3. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
4. Bad Kids - Black Lips
5. Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - The Smiths
6. There Goes the Fear - Doves
7. You Make My Dreams - Hall & Oates
8. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
9. Quelqu'un M'a Dit - Carla Bruni
10. Mushaboom - Feist
11. Hero - Regina Spektor
12. Bookends - Simon & Garfukel
13. Vagabond - Wolfmother
14. She's Got You High - Mumm-Ra
15. Here Comes Your Man - Meaghan Smith
16. Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - She & Him *

* She & Him is a band that is headed up by the movie's co-star Zooey Deschanel. Definitely a unique sound, but damn that girl has a good voice!