Sunday, January 30, 2011

Open Post: William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture

An absolutely perfect film soundtrack is extremely hard to come by. Most everybody has at least a few that come to mind, but I have recently found that many of my old go to favorites don't really hold up anymore (I'm not goofing. This used to be my shit when I was 11. Inappropriate, I know.) I guess that's to be expected. I mean, half the time certain movies I love(d) don't cut the mustard anymore, so it stands to reason that their accompanying scores have become little more than spotty playlists- a few solid gems sprinkled in there for sure, but straight through playability? Not happening.

At its best, an OST can serve as an amazing mix tape, a Cliff Notes like musical recap that triggers your recollection of certain scenes and exchanges of dialogue or a completely amazing stand alone record that regardless of any film's association, you would like to own. At its worst, it can be well, this.

But, in case you were curious (you weren't) the soundtrack of my really complex and important middle school life (the amount of side eye I am giving my childhood self right now is not even quantifiable) still holds up! Solid. Solid as a rock!

Baz Luhrmann's tropicalia drenched post-apocalyptic Mexico City take on the star crossed lovers will still, without any doubt, make me cry. The last montage of their (two week) courtship? Peering at each other through the fish tank? Those angel wings? The pool scene? Losing your virginity to your husband at 14 surrounded by a million saint candles and dolls? Leonardo DiCaprio's smooth as a baby's bottom chest peeping out from the most awesome of awesome Hawaiian shirts? Visually, the film is truly breathtaking, but then again, that's what Baz does best. That's a given. I mean, say what you will about Moulin Rouge! (wait, don't I'll get mad) it is nothing if not lush and gorgeous. His reconstructed Monte Marte is like a pop up book on absinthe (which was the point) and his attention to visual detail is always impressive. In Romeo + Juliet, he pulls off creating a world lost in a very specific aesthetic past (think Cuba), where everyone speaks in Shakespearean tongue, but hangs out with cholas and cross dressing disco loving gun toting roll dogs AND listens to the best of what the '90s had to offer sonically. That is not an easy task.

This soundtrack has it all. Garbage (I would die for you). Radiohead. The Cardigans (so I cry, and I beg, for you to, love me love meeeeeeeee). Butthole Surfers. DES'REE (no. words.). Everclear. Future B2K affiliated Quindon Tarver, who, when he appeared in the film as a young choir boy, literally had the voice of an angel (his cover of "When Doves Cry" is unfathomably magical, but, although featured in the film, it is technically only found on the second volume of the soundtrack along with the instrumentals). Kym Mazelle's cover of Candi Stanton's "Young Hearts Run Free" is one of the greatest disco/house tunes in my (not so) humble opinion. The pseudo creepy babytalk singing style of Stina Nordenstam that then takes a surprising turn and delves into a very decent and actually not awful sax solo breakdown on "Little Star" is understated wistful longing at its finest. There isn't a bad jam on this album. Don't believe me? Full track listing:

1. "#1 Crush" - Garbage
2. "Local God" - Everclear
3. "Angel" - Gavin Friday
4. "Pretty Piece of Flesh" - One Inch Punch
5. "Kissing You (Love Theme from Romeo + Juliet)" - Des'ree
6. "Whatever (I Had a Dream)" - Butthole Surfers
7. "Lovefool" - The Cardigans
8. "Young Hearts Run Free" - Kym Mazelle
9. "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" - Quindon Tarver
10. "To You I Bestow" - Mundy
11. "Talk Show Host" - Radiohead
12. "Little Star" - Stina Nordenstam
13. "You and Me Song" - The Wannadies

Flawless. Watch this if you still have a fence post up your butt:

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat. Give me my sin again indeed.

Don't be no fool when love really don't love you. PREACH.

Later, I'm busy weeping in my room.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Special Monday Morning Tape For You, Special!

Well, to quote Rob, it is Monday afternoon (I should have woken up earlier) but nevertheless, in celebration of the clown shoe convention that was last night's Golden Globes (Ricky Gervais, please, be mine) here are ten songs I believe have epic cinematic qualities. These picks all possess swelling crescendos, waves of complex melodic emotions, a lush sonic narrative and of course, would all work perfectly, or already have worked perfectly, as the soundtrack to characters realizing they are in love, staring out windows wistfully, having their hearts smashed, or having impeccably lit and expertly choreographed sex scenes.

Ay yi yi! That string intro is the audio equivalent of a film's protagonist thinking about a new crush and smiling. In fact, this whole song is just one gorgeous and silky tribute to new possibilities, feeling like you are 100 feet tall, and those electromagnetic vibrations that you emit when you meet someone that you just want to stare at, all day.

So, the Ray Charles duet version of this gem was totally used in a very young Lilo's remake of The Parent Trap (when the twins get separated and British Lohan has to go back to London with her mom (RIP Natasha Richardson), while Napa Valley Lohan has to be sad and ride horses with Dennis Quaid) but I really like Betty Carter doing this solo, because it takes melancholy to all sorts of new levels. Like, can't you just picture someone singing this in their apartment alone, wishing someone was there to finish the verse with them and tell them everything was going to be alright?

A pink and purple sunset. A rooftop in Brazil. A longing and wistful glance into an overpopulated, but oh so lonely and isolating city. A void in a heart that can be only filled with true love. Wait, no, I change my mind. Actually, this song is basically this Murakami story.

Speaking of Brother Ray: Correct me if I am wrong, but can't you just picture this song playing over a really bittersweet end of film montage of a doomed relationship? Meeting, falling in love, falling out of love, amazing highs, depressing and scary lows, fights, making up, a soul crushing break up. Like some Blue Valentine shit, but not to the music of Grizzly Bear.

The clip is in German, I think, but just jump to second :45 and you will know why this song can never again be used in another scene as effectively as it was used here. Look at Robert Forster's eyes. He pretty much sums up love at first sight during that first kitten soft guitar lick and drum roll. Then again, I think Pam Grier was created to strut out of a correctional facility to the sound of Bloodstone so, I mean, do with that what you will.

The title of this Let's Get It On session jam kind of says it all. I picture someone laughing and grinning to themselves while trying to grocery shop, remembering the night before. It's the complete emotional opposite of what using this other Let's Get It On masterpiece would be (it was used in a sad relationship fight/break up scene between Taraji P. Henson and Tyrese IN THE RAIN, in John Singleton's Baby Boy):

Here are two that have already been used, and exquisitely. In The Mood For Love is one big beautiful, bittersweet and staggeringly sad ode to forbidden love, all set to Spanish Nat "King" Cole.

Oh boy. Roy Hargrove and Shelby Johnson. This tune is kind of like having a whole pack of butterflies in your stomach while glowing and sauntering down the street, half tipsy, half dreaming. It would work perfectly in a film that will never be made.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's Monday, so...

I'm obviously lounging around watching some of my favorite music videos.


having a TV for a head must be kind of cumbersome, but I totally wouldn't mind it if it meant I got to cruise around with Saadiq and Tip all summer time like.

One of my favorite things Spike Jonze ever did. "The cookies, buttercrunch."

First of all, Big Boi and Andre 3000 are collectively the perfect man, and secondly (and what's most importantly is), there hasn't been a better wedding music video since "November Rain."

I wish Erykah and I were friends. And not in a creepy super fan way or anything (I swear), but more like, how hilarious IS she? I bet 'Dre wasn't even mad at her "Hey Ya" spoof. He probably was like, damn, my baby mama is the truth. The fake Ohio Players and Minnie Riperton are my faves but Erykah as Maggot Brain cannot be denied.

This song is supposedly about Pharrell. The tub shot has stuck with me since I saw it as a kid.

I think the aesthetic of this video is the '70s Harlem counterpart to Janet's Samuel Fosso and Malick Sidibe inspired "Got 'Til It's Gone."

I remember where I was the first time I saw this video. Molly Ferguson's basement. I was 8, maybe 9. Either way, the sublime casting of Iman, Eddie, Magic Johnson and Arsenio Hall coupled with MAGIC and one of the most beautiful songs about wistful and nostalgic romance ever written was too much for me and I don't think I ever recovered. Also, the awkward embrace MJ and Iman share makes me want to die on the inside. Like, Pharoah Murphy, you just got played by a warlock in black jeans and relaxed waves. Descend the throne while you still have some dignity.

I'm sure you think your mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, but I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Ay yi yi! Has anyone ever looked more sensuous in the history of sensuous than Sade cleaning her kid's dirty white sneaker or running while carrying dry cleaning? The answer is clearly no.

This video is like if Betty Draper and Pam Grier had a baby and it grew up idolizing Bridget Bardot and then I wanted to look just like it/stare at it all day. Obsessed.