Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Twilight Zone

The current vampire craze is psychotic. True Blood, New Blood, New Moon, True Moon, whatever - they all flew right over my head in their early stages. I had no idea people had such an underlying obsession with all things blood-sucking and pale-skinned, but apparently Hollywood has cracked into a widespread unearthly human obsession with these (at times extremely attractive, ahem, Pattinson) creatures of the night.

Of all the new vampire genre which come to mind, of course, the Twilight obsession is the most obvious epidemic. Perhaps the jolting suspense, the sexy shirtless male vamps (gone are the days of cloaks and coffins), or maybe the undeniable chemistry between on-screen and real-life lovers Bella and Edward are some of the tickets to this box-office phenomenon. Either way, the yearly Twilight film emergence has sent people of all ages into a frenzy.

My interest minorly sparked when it came to these films, only because I wanted to know what the hoopla was all about. After one viewing of each film, my curiosity was satisfied and I wouldn't become a return viewer. But something else drew me in; something else caused me to come back each year for the latest flick. Which brings me to the obvious reason for writing about this teeny-tot saga.

Have you ever thought to listen to the soundtracks? Well, if you haven't (and you probably haven't, I didn't at first) - then you should. Right away. The ingenious music direction of Alexandra Patsavas was set to match the hype and craze of it's equally major film component. The soundtracks for all three consecutive films - Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse - have so far proved to be the most fascinatingly perfect original soundtracks in the past five years. Both the New Moon and Eclipse soundtracks were rightfully nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack for a Motion Picture, most likely because the various artists mixes are jam-packed with anything and everyone rising in the music world. Original cuts over the past three years from the likes of Muse, Metric, Iron and Wine, Band of Horses, Editors, Lykke Li, Cee Lo Green and Brandon Flowers have become the musical equivalent to the stormy and romantic plot lines of the famous saga.

It's clear on the first Twilight soundtrack that the music supervision team were trying to find their musical footing, see if the entire series would bomb, and stick to their basic pop-rock hits and touches of instrumental score. The first right note was hit with "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," which quickly became a household Iron & Wine lullaby after teens everywhere watched Edward dance the delicate Bella across a starlit gazebo with it in the background (music credit goes to lead actress Kristen Stewart for suggesting the song to filmmakers). After seeing the grandiose success of all things Edward Cullen (the brooding fang-bearing male protagonist), the New Moon soundtrack was the perfect opportunity to go wild - plucking a bit of everything up-and-coming from each musical genre and blowing the whole operation out of the water. The New Moon soundtrack samples the rising fame of Swedish indie star Lykke Li on "Possibility", a haunting piano-driven tale of a desperate, longing sort of love that will bring even the proudest to their knees. Another slow and powerful track is heard in the acoustic breakdown of Editors' "No Sound But The Wind" - a courageous, booming baritone fit to tell the story of the film's famous romance. An electric thump was heard with "Friends" by Band of Skulls, a cool and sleek jam suited to the strut of the mythical sex symbols.

Emily Haines of Metric
Eclipse, the latest addition to the soundtrack line-up was even more so a home run - taking big strides with the help of homegrown-Canadian indie-poppers Metric on the first track "All Yours," which was also stripped down to a tinkering lyricless score that threaded throughout the film. The upbeat rock-pop of The Bravery and Vampire Weekend provide some colourful light within the dark cave of Eclipse, making the whole compilation not overly morbid and much more well-rounded. However, it wouldn't be a vampire soundtrack without the saga's classically enchanting and tender moments - showcased nicely in the cowboy strums and harmonies of "Life on Earth" by the Band of Horses boys and the eerily heartbroken croons of Sia on her track "My Love."

Probably the most interesting use of track space on the newest soundtrack are my favourite bad-to-the-bone rockers The Black Keys, who were asked to contribute the blazing beat of "Chop and Change", a ghost town jam resembling tempos past such as in "Riders on the Storm." Another stand-out moment was one of the first signs of electro-trance in the soundtrack saga, with Beck and Bat For Lashes combining on "Let's Get Lost," an airy, floating ballad that's both new age and reminiscent of early 2000s trance-instrumental bands like The Album Leaf and Massive Attack.

Take a bite out of this collection. Do it whether you have any intention of diving into the film saga or not - because like me, you'll not only find yourself surprised at the new favourites you've acquired, but also the sudden common ground you'll have gained with the pre-teens of today.

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