Soundtrack Madness: Compilations
The Compilations bracket consists of soundtracks that are most like a modern day playlist. Each is a collection of songs, sometimes with a consistent genre or era, and other times brought together only by their connection to the story of the film they help to score. The other three brackets will be posted this weekend, and all the polls will be open for exactly one week. Please base your vote on the album as opposed to the film. For the most part, the images of the albums have links to places you can stream the soundtrack, although some are not complete versions. Also, you can check out the full brackets at March Madness: The Original Soundtrack. Have fun!
Trainspotting (1) vs. Jackie Brown (16)
The soundtrack for Trainspotting was so wildly successful that they released a volume 2, which is not being considered here. The album is incredibly eclectic yet somehow works, with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” introducing us to a strange mix of melancholy alt rock, happy pop, energetic punk, and relaxed electronic beats. Meanwhile, one of Tarantino’s best soundtracks to possibly his most underrated film, Jackie Brown, intersperses some classic soul and funk with a bit of rap and some quotables from the film itself. Just as Shaft immediately conjures Shaft imagery, it’s very hard to hear some of this music without imagining Pam Grier as Jackie in all of her badass glory.
The Virgin Suicides (9) vs. Natural Born Killers (8)
Not to be confused with the original film score from the band Air, the soundtrack from The Virgin Suicides is given quite a bit of consistency with primarily 70’s folk/rock artists, with a bit of 90’s thrown in by Sloan and some of Air’s score. Natural Born Killers, on the other hand, is a massively eclectic work of chaos. Trent Reznor will show up plenty in these brackets, but here he is a producer, bringing together Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Dr. Dre, and Peter Gabriel and some ever popular film dialogue (soundtracks loved to do this in the 90’s).
Pretty in Pink (5) vs. Stand By Me (12)
Both albums (and films) have a pretty high nostalgic value. Both were released in the mid-80’s, but Pretty in Pink’s New Wave soundtrack is nostalgic now that the 80’s are retro, and Stand By Me had nostalgia in mind from the beginning, as the film was told to us as a childhood memoir from the late 50’s.
The Big Chill (13) vs. Easy Rider (4)
The soundtrack is quite frankly the best thing about 1983’s The Big Chill, and could just as easily be called a best-of-60’s-soul compilation. While The Big Chill looks back at the 60’s with longing nostalgia, Easy Rider is in the midst of 1969 with music that provides commentary on both the film’s story (of two bikers on their way to New Orleans), and the greater cultural climate of this important American era. Not to mention, this might be the earliest example of a true compilation soundtrack.
American Graffiti (3) vs. Juice (14)
Also known as 41 Original Hits from the Soundtrack of American Graffiti, this is truly an epic collection of 50-60’s pop music. To be fair, most of the songs are less than 3 minutes long. Juice may have a far more standard list of 14 tracks, but they are carefully chosen to present some of the absolute best of early 90’s rap and r&b. The only way it could be improved is by adding some Tupac, since he plays the lead role in the film.
Romeo + Juliet (11) vs. Garden State (6)
I think these two albums represent the most recent soundtracks I have been inspired to purchase, with the exception of a few other Baz Luhrman directed films. Appropriately, Romeo + Juliet has a great emotional mix of anger, sadness, hopeful peace, and ironic cheerfulness. Garden State is more subdued; it’s a bunch of indie anthems all chosen by Zach Braff, who also wrote, directed, and starred in the film. Something about his personal playlist seems to have spoken to a whole generation.
Reservoir Dogs (7) vs. Dazed and Confused (10)
The chronological first of many great soundtracks from Quentin Tarantino, and not the last we’ll see in these brackets. The soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs is set as though it’s a radio show, and provides a musical juxtaposition to to the story’s violence, which the album communicates through snippets of film dialogue. Dazed and Confused is a 1993 version of American Graffiti, with another epic soundtrack featuring the much more gritty classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s.
The Life Aquatic (15) vs. Pulp Fiction (2)
At first glance it seems this might be one of the stranger match-ups. However, there are a fair amount of similarities between these two soundtracks: Both soundtracks have been commercially successful and critically acclaimed; they both include a decent amount of instrumentals; and both have themes relating to water, with the Life Aquatic’s Sven Libaek compositions, “Shark Attack” and “Open Sea” themes, and Pulp Fiction’s surf rock. They’re still pretty different, and how you choose between them is your call.
Polls are now open for the Featured Artist brackets, so head over there if you haven’t voted yet!