Saturday, November 12, 2011

Countdown Part 2: The Soundtracks

View my outline for this "countdown" here and Part 1 here.

I have really enjoyed what the Twilight movies have done with their soundtracks. The first one allowed me a way to get back into the mood of the movie while I waited for the DVD--it's impossible to listen to a song like "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," for instance, without picturing the scene it's featured in. Now, I know that listening to a movie score can do the same sort of thing, but it's different to listen to a score than a soundtrack. When you listen to a score, you are hearing point per point (or note per note, as the base may be) what you hear when you watch the movie. That helps to picture the movie, but I think it can also ultimately take away from the affect the score has on you when you actually are watching the movie. You start to get used to the music, so to speak, and it no longer can so powerfully set the tone of the scene. But with the songs on the soundtrack, you never hear the whole song in the movie; the only time you may hear the whole thing will be in the credits. So if you listen to that song over and over, you're not really spoiling the affect it has on you in the movie.

But besides this ramble, I love that these soundtracks have gotten me to listen to new music. I was introduced to Paramore through "Decode" and Florence + the Machine through "Heavy in Your Arms." Even for some of the artists whose other albums I have not bought, I still love what they bring to the soundtrack. Sia's "My Love," Blue Foundation's "Eyes on Fire," and Sea Wolf's "The Violet Hour" are some of the songs that come to mind as ones that I simply like listening to. I like that, in general, the three soundtracks mix classical music, pop music, and indie music--not only does that mean that there are favorites for everyone, but also that it gives us a chance to listen to things we might not have approached on our own.

To me, the Twilight soundtrack is raw--you can feel all of what it's bringing. New Moon gave a more somber tone, as fits the subject matter; as a whole, I think it is my favorite of the first three. Frankly, the songs in Eclipse start to drag after a while and not to distinguish themselves enough from each other, in my view.

The way that Twilight incorporated the songs into the movie was interesting: sometimes you didn't even realize these were separate songs instead of just parts of the score. The bit of "Eyes on Fire" that we hear in the movie doesn't include any lyrics, so you have to hear the whole song by itself to recognize it in the scene. This works to an advantage: the movie doesn't get weighed down by too many songs in addition to what the score brings.

New Moon has some of my favorite song moments (even while it has some very iffy score moments). "Slow Life" and "Hearing Damage" are two notable ones: they make their scenes perfect.

For Eclipse, I felt like the soundtrack was trying too hard. It seemed like we were constantly getting two seconds of a song just so that it could be in the movie just so that it could be in the soundtrack, like the bit that plays when Edward drops Bella off with Jacob. That isn't to say there weren't moments I did like; "My Love" and "Rolling in on a Burning Tire" I did. Could it also be that this soundtrack had less of an indie feel than the other two? I don't listen to a huge amount of popular music, so I hesitate to consider this too much. But if it's true, maybe that's why I feel a little lukewarm about this soundtrack.

Anyway, Breaking Dawn has the chance to include aspects of all the previous three soundtracks. There are joyful moments like in Twilight, sad moments like in New Moon, and tense moments like in Eclipse.  From my two listens (which I already feel is too much before seeing the movie), it seems like these are all there. It's hard to resist, while listening, guessing about which scene everything will go in. In fact, it doesn't seem too hard to do: all the songs have a definite tone. It seems like there is a varied mix in the type of song, as well. And listening to the new version of "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" and the song from Carter Burwell's score was emotional: it's good to have some hearkening back to the beginnings. The movies really aren't, up to now, very musically linked; that's regretful to me. So I'm excited to see what Carter Burwell does with the rest of the score.

And that's really all I have to say for now: the Breaking Dawn soundtrack proves to be at least on par with the others, with the songs seeming as fit for particular scenes as they have been previously.

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