What makes a great choice of song for a movie?
Stanley Kubrick famously played The Blue Danube by Strauss as a guide track for the space station sequences in 2001 : A Space Odyssey, then discovered that the strange juxtaposition worked. Quentin Tarantino also knows that contrast plays dividends. Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealer's Wheel was a fairly innocuous track until it took on newly sinister significance accompanying the ear scene in Reservoir Dogs. For a while his trademark use of music could resurrect an artist's career, as it did for Dick Dale with Pulp Fiction.
Occasionally the soundtrack seeps into the plot, as when Natalie Portman's character is listening to The Shins in the doctor's waiting room of Garden State. But since Coppola used The Doors' The End to such effect in Apocalypse Now, a judicious use of alternative music has become a key weapon in the director's arsenal. The rise of independent cinema has allowed alternative music to find new outlets and encourage new demographics to hear the works of more obscure artists.
This episode is divided more or less in two. Part One features some jauntier numbers from Toots and the Maytals, Supergrass, The Beat, The Shins, New Order and Lou Reed. Then, as Paul McCartney decided for the end of Abbey Road, there is a thematic unity that unites Part Two in the form of a medley.
Here's a classic indie movie: perhaps a troubled boy in his early twenties, facing problems in his life, meets a similarly awkward girl (favourite band, The Smiths). Neither feels they quite fit in the harsh world of today. Although there are obstacles in their way - the path of true love never runs smooth - eventually they realise they are meant for each other. Comic supporting characters pad out the storyline.
What better soundtrack for this film than tracks by Air, Beck, Nick Drake, Belle and Sebastian, Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, Broken Social Scene, Brian Eno and The Cure. You could even write a variant script in your mind. Meanwhile here's the tracklist for the whole episode:-
54-46 was my number, Toots and the Maytals (from This Is England)
Alright, Supergrass (from Clueless)
Mirror in the Bathroom, The Beat (from Gross Pointe Blank)
Caring is Creepy, The Shins (from Garden State)
Ceremony, New Order (from Marie Antoinette)
Satellite of Love, Lou Reed (from Adventureland)
Playground Love, Air (from The Virgin Suicides)
Everybody’s got to learn some time, Beck (from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Fly, Nick Drake (from The Royal Tenenbaums)
Piazza, New York Catcher, Belle and Sebastian (from Juno)
Some Velvet Morning, Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra (from Morvern Callar)
Anthems for a seventeen year-old girl, Broken Social Scene (from Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
The Big Ship, Brian Eno (from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
All cats are grey, The Cure (from Marie Antoinette)