Quintessential Album Series :: Reality Bites :: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Various Artists)
A Little History:
Reality Bites is a 1994 romantic comedy-drama film written by Helen Childress and directed by Ben Stiller. It stars Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Stiller, with supporting roles by Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn.
RCA met with the film’s music supervisor Karyn Rachtman and Stiller three weeks into filming to discuss the soundtrack album. They finalized a deal and the label opened its roster to the director who picked only one band: Me Phi Me.
RCA aggressively marketed the album and had five tracks on rotation on radio and MTV. The video for Crowded House’s Locked Out was updated to include footage from the film. In addition, the video for Spin the Bottle by the Juliana Hatfield Three was directed by Stiller, and featured clips from the film as well.
The soundtrack sold 1.2 million units and reached # 13 on the Billboard 200. The album also earned a no. 1 single with Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You).
The film’s soundtrack includes songs by World Party, Squeeze, The Knack (My Sharona featured prominently in one scene from the film), Juliana Hatfield, Social Distortion, and two contributions from Crowded House (Locked Out and Something So Strong, the latter not included on the soundtrack album) in addition to the runaway hit Stay (I Missed You) by Lisa Loeb, which earned Loeb the distinction of being the first artist to top the Hot 100 before being signed to any record label.
What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?
Reality Bites is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the soundtrack is one of my all-time favorites, as well. They both came around at a time in my life where I felt similar to the characters, especially the character of Laney, a little bit lost, a little bit torn between two boys, a little bit torn about myself, and a lot just struggling to get by.
I had a lot of great moments with friends, and so many memories that associate with music, too. I remember a boy I was with a the time saying he was reminded of me in Laney, too, though at the time I’m not so sure he meant it as a compliment – regardless, I sure took it as one.
I felt so attached to the movie, and so understood by it, and I still do, even as someone who is far from being twenty-something. And the soundtrack, it still gets a lot of listens by me, and some of the songs reside in my favorites of forever lists, and find themselves on playlists and mixes often. I feel like there are pieces of me, and pieces of my memories of the mid-nineties, in the entire soundtrack – which definitely makes it a quintessential album to me.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
1. All I Want is You :: U2
“All the promises we break,
from the cradle to the grave,
when all I want is you.”
2. Spin the Bottle :: The Juliana Hatfield Three
(the MTV introduction to this is great – so mid-90’s, too)
“He’s in a bunch of movies,
really stupid movies,
it’s not entirely his fault,
he can’t control it all.”
3. When You Come Back to Me :: World Party
“You know, as I ride along,
I can always hear the song,
and where you’re meant to be.”
4.Tempted :: Squeeze
“I said to my reflection,
let’s get out of this place.”
5. Going Going Gone :: The Posies
“And it won’t be very long,
’til I’m going going gone.”