What makes an unforgettable movie soundtrack? Is it the mix of songs that are collected and offered up to take home and play, evoking the memories of scenes and characters every time you listen? Does the right soundtrack elevate the movie its from, sometimes taking on a life of its own, or at times is a good soundtrack even better than the film itself? For me, my favorite movie soundtracks play like a well-crafted mix or playlist. The songs start and fade, weaving together into something seamless, that delights and surprises.
The best soundtracks in my collection are the ones that introduce me to a band or artist I didn’t know before, and take me back to moments in the movies I love. A good soundtrack is a perfect musical companion to take on a road trip, or listen through headphones while working on a project. The best ones find their way into my favorite albums list.
This new weekly installment, taking Wednesday’s slot for “Movie of the Day”, is dedicated to some of my favorite soundtracks, and will celebrate and share my Top 5 songs from each featured movie’s music.
To start things off let’s take a trip to visit Hard Harry (Christian Slater) and The Eat Me Beat Me Lady (Samantha Mathis) as they “Talk Hard” and play some of my favorite soundtrack sounds in the 1990 film,Pump Up the Volume.
“I’m dedicating this unusual song to an unusual person who makes me feel kind of… unusual.” ~ Mark Hunter (Hard Harry)
Pump Up the Volume came along at the start of a new decade. This was pre-internet, which is an important detail to remember when you revisit this film, or see it for the first time, because the way Mark connects through illegally used radio waves to reach his peers is something that may seem antiquated now. But, at the time, it was powerful and inspiring, especially because Mark, in his daily, “in-person” life, was introverted and isolated. The anonymity of the radio show, and his “user name” (Hard Harry) gave him the strength to share his thoughts, his tastes, his opinions, and his raw honesty which connected to his listeners on a personal level, and as a group. It also helped him connect to an individual, and forge a relationship that face-to-face may have never begun. The internet, and communities formed there, would become what this pirate radio station was to Mark, and his faithful followers.
Music was a vital part of Mark’s radio show, and helped to empower him, elicit emotional resonance, and connect his words to the listeners. Music is a powerful to the story, and the songs chosen to accompany the film are unforgettable and emotional and to me, at the time, some of them were introductory. It was from this movie’s soundtrack that I first discovered Leonard Cohen, who would become one of my favorite singer-songwriters. It featured a great cover version of Cohen’s Everybody Knows, and an eclectic mix of punk, ska, alternative and hip-hop music that strung together on one album would make it one of my go-to favorite movie soundtracks of all-time.
Here are my Top-Five Favorites from the Pump Up The Volume(1990) soundtrack:
1. Everybody Knows :: Concrete Blonde
originally by Leonard Cohen
“Everybody knows you love me baby.
everybody knows you really do.
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful,
give or take a night or two.”
“I’ve kissed mermaids,
rode the El Nino,
walked the sand with the crustaceans,
could find my way to Mariana,
on a wave of mutilation.”
3. Kick Out the Jams :: Bad Brains
originally by MC5
“Let me up on the stand,
and let me kick out the jams.”
4. Me & the Devil Blues :: Concrete Blonde
originally by Robert Johnson
“Early this morning when you knocked upon my door,
early this morning, ooooh,
when you knocked upon my door,
and I said hello Satan,
I believe it’s time to go.”
5. I’ve Got a Miniature Secret Camera :: Peter Murphy
“Picks and hips,
the deadness says,
to look within.”