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Entries in Soundtracking (124)

Wednesday
Oct162019

Soundtracking: Amazing Grace

by Chris Feil

In the year and change since Aretha Franklin has passed, it feels as if she never left, much as it often does when an artist’s legacy feels as eternal as hers. It’s not just that the Aretha songbook has remained as omnipresent in our culture as ever, but her place remained as cemented this year with the successful release of Amazing Grace. The concert doc captures the live recording of Franklin’s highest selling album of the same name, her first that was fully in the gospel genre that fostered her otherworldly gift. But perhaps what made the film feel even more special in the months after her death isn’t just the opportunity to witness her at peak powers, but also to see fragments of a more personal side revealed.

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Wednesday
Oct092019

Soundtracking: Ghost

by Chris Feil

A convergence of the romantic, the spooky, and the outright earnest happened in the early 90s with Ghost, most notably immortalized through song through the ripe feeling of The Righteous Brothers’ version of “Unchained Melody”. It was the kind of megasmash that only this era could have produced, and the kind of instantly classic movie moment that distills the era. But for the past thirty years, the sight of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in clay-mate-tion has been burned into our minds and our cultural loins in ways few musical scenes can equally measure.

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Wednesday
Oct022019

Soundtracking: Batman (1989)

by Chris Feil

By now the grim discourse surrounding the arrival of a new version of the beloved Joker feels like a ceaseless, depressing spiral. In the years since Heath Ledger’s genius and revolutionary take on the character, the social context for the clown terrorist has only gotten darker. After a tattoo and grill-clad iteration in Suicide Squad to now Joaquin Pheonix’s take that hews closer to the unwell men who find inspiration in the character in our isolative online era, we seem to be losing the character’s sense of fun in every conceivable way. This franchise needs an enema [kazoo sound]!

The mad balance between Joker’s violence and vibrancy is so skewed, it feels like we need to bring back a different kind of extremity. Like the kind that accompanied Jack Nicholson’s version, that hasn’t gotten its fair share of side-eye. I’m talking about the technicolor earnestness of Prince’s Batman concept album.

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Wednesday
Sep252019

Soundtracking: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

by Chris Feil

Where to even begin with “Over the Rainbow”? A song that defined one of the most singular legends of the movies. One of the most significant songs in all of cinema in one of the most enduring films, a song that legend tells was almost removed. A song that turns the specific pain of one character into a universal one across generations and vastly different experiences. There is only one “Over the Rainbow” and one The Wizard of Oz, just as there was only one Judy Garland.

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Wednesday
Sep182019

Soundtracking: Hustlers

by Chris Feil

“This is a story about control...”

Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers begins by brilliantly underlining its thesis through the musical vessel of Janet Jackson. The film is a story about control, of reclaiming it in a workforce that tries to take it from you, and ultimately of losing it. But the film is also about female power and shoving back against an oppressive system, all of this embodied in the pop perfection prowess of Jackson herself. Hustlers may be the most slamming pop soundtrack of the year, but it’s also deployed with similar subtextual wisdom. The hits keep coming, but they also reinforce Scarfaria’s examination of feminine defiance with a razor specific period detail.

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Wednesday
Sep112019

Soundtracking: Coyote Ugly

by Chris Feil

Few modern soundtracks distill the essence of a film as wonderfully as Coyote Ugly. In the vein of Flashdance and its ilk, the film follows a creative young woman as she navigates a world of male objectification. It takes its name from the famous bar featuring hot chicks serving booze to cheering men and plops Piper Perabo’s heroine Violet in that environment as she chases her songwriting dreams. But instead of the Hooters brand of male-defined sexuality that immediately comes to mind, this bar finds the women in power of their male audience. The musical world of Coyote Ugly revels as much in the girl power as it operates around (and subverts) male gaze, thanks especially to a few great originals by LeAnn Rimes.

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