Soundtrack Madness: Artist Featured Albums
The soundtracks in this bracket all have one thing in common: they all heavily feature one particular artist, group, or style. These soundtracks sound consistent and well-put-together not only because they reflect one era or genre of music, but also because they are shaped by the performers themselves. As with the first bracket, the polls will be open for one week. And finally, most of the album images will work as links to places you can stream the soundtracks – please let me know if there are any issues. Also, please remember to vote based on the album, and not the film. Let’s get to it!
Purple Rain (1) vs. New Jack City (16)
This begins on a personal level right off the bat for me, with the classic Purple Rain, a critic-favourite with an Oscar and a couple Grammys to its name, featuring one of the greatest musical legends of the century – Prince. It is up against a compilation of New Jack Swing that kept the game-changing genre in the mainstream charts for an extra few years, with tracks from Guy, Color Me Bad, Keith Sweat, and a Queen Latifah remake of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Living for the City” that mixes in samples from The O’Jay’s “Love of Money” – my favourite moment on the album.
Rushmore (9) vs. Help! (8)
Although Director Wes Anderson had hoped The Kinks would do the soundtrack to his wacky Rushmore, OST veteran Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo stepped in to intersperse the 60’s Rock with plucky instrumentals that could have placed this album in with the Scores bracket if it weren’t so vocal heavy. Rushmore goes head-to-head with some actual 60’s Rock in The Beatles’ second feature film, Help!, which includes classics like “Ticket to Ride,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Yesterday”.
Super Fly (5) vs. Magnolia (12)
Super Fly is not just a classic Soundtrack. It’s a staple album for any fan of funk and protest soul. Curtis Mayfield made one of his best albums for this Blaxploitation film, providing not only a musical atmosphere to tell the story, but some of his own interpretation of the film as well. Aimee Mann was the obvious choice for the Magnolia OST since the film is inspired by her music in the first place. If you are not familiar with Mann’s music, this soundtrack is an excellent introduction that includes some of her best songwriting. “Wise Up” will especially forever remind me of the film’s emotional turning point, when the cast sings along to the soundtrack in one of my all-time favourite music moments in a movie.
Blue Hawaii (13) vs. Hard Day’s Night (4)
Well, it doesn’t get more epic than this matchup. Blue Hawaii was released only 2 years after the island became a state. Personally, I think it should sound a lot more “blue” considering the history, but honestly this is my favourite Elvis. He is charming, not too soulful, and he has a freaking ukulele. But can he beat the four boys from Liverpool on their first album of 100% original songs? The first side of Hard Day’s Night is the most recognizable stuff with music from the film, while the second side contains music written for, but not featured in, the film.
The Graduate (3) vs. About A Boy (14)
This is a fairly interesting matchup, because if you voted solely based on the popularity of the songs, or even of your knowledge of Simon and Garfunkel and/or Badly Drawn Boy, this would likely be a landslide. The problem is, The Graduate is mostly a repackaging of Simon & Garfunkel songs that also appear on much better albums, while Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy) created both a great understated film score, along with a fantastic original album in soundtrack form. However, repackaged Paul Simon is still Paul frickin’ Simon. Do what you will.
Singles (11) vs. Shaft (6)
This is probably the strangest combination yet: it could be renamed Self-Pity vs. Bad Assery. Singles was able to launch the grunge scene way beyond its Seattle roots, basically putting Alt Rock on the radio, and changing 90’s music forever. Meanwhile, Isaac Hayes gave us 4 sides of original material, mostly instrumental film score with a few vocals here and there, and it remains one of his best selling albums to date (not to mention, one of the most sampled). Voting will likely have to come down to a question of personal taste.
The Harder They Come (7) vs. The Bodyguard (10)
An iconic album that helped bring classic Reggae from Jamaica to America is up against the best-selling soundtrack of all time. Though 20 years are between them, these albums are a perfect match for each other – both are compilations that heavily feature an artist who also starred in the film.
Harold and Maude (15) vs. Saturday Night Fever (2)
Two very different movies and soundtracks from the American 70’s are competing here. Harold and Maude is an odd, existentialist film about a death-obsessed boy and a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor. Cat Stevens offers a bit of simple hope in the midst of big questions. Saturday Night Fever is a classic dance film that documents the subculture of disco night life to the sound of the Gibb brothers’ falsetto, which is just so much catchier than I ever seem to remember.