Monday, January 07, 2008
Delayed (ergo) Gratification
Movies and music, my favorite topics
I recently saw Juno. Aside from a few minor qualms which I won’t go into, I greatly enjoyed it. Prior to going to the film my sister had mentioned buying the soundtrack so I had the music a bit more in mind than I normally do. For me at least, soundtrack appreciation is quite variable. Sometimes I dwell a lot on it, sometimes I don’t notice it at all. It could be argued that when I don’t notice the music it must be a poor soundtrack, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think sometimes the music is important, sometimes it’s not, and large mistakes can be made either way. Case in point: I greatly enjoy the soundtrack of House. It’s quite common for me to track the songs down on the internet that night after I watched the episode. On the other hand, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia only uses occasional elevator music as it’s soundtrack, and I think that works fine as well. Each show and each movie have their own feel. I digress.
In Juno, a lot of the music is pulled from The Moldy Peaches, or more specifically, from Kimya Dawson of that band, which has been on hiatus since 2004. Now this is an unusual band, and it certainly doesn’t cater to the masses. I first got their CD after hearing their songs “Who’s Got the Crack” and “Downloading Porn with Davo.” So I was surprised to hear their music in the trailers. But I was also gratified, because of course, I’ve known about this band for 4 years. That’s how cool I am. And to the credit of Diablo, or the director or whoever selected the music, it fit very well with the movie, which itself doesn’t really cater to the masses. But I found this move to part of an interesting trend.
Kimya was featured prominently in Juno, but not as prominently as Loudon Wainwright in Knocked Up. It’s an interesting coincidence that both movies are about pregnancy, but this seems to be a coincidence. Loudon is the father of the slightly more famous Rufus Wainwright, and is a talented musician in his own right. Judd Apatow hired Loudon to perform the whole soundtrack of his movie, though I do believe Loudon chose to include songs by other artists. This is interesting to me because 1. Again I’m cool for having listened to Loudon for several years and 2. Hollywood is taking alternative artists and giving them free reign with the tone of their movies. I think both Juno and Knocked Up would be very different movies with different soundtracks. Loudon and Kimya each provide angst, peace and quirk in the appropriate locations within the films. Some people might claim that an independent artist doing something so mainstream is “selling out” but I’m really not a believer in that concept. I do avoid most things popular, but being popular is not in and of itself “selling out.” Selling out is changing who you are to fit whatever mold is currently popular. Again, a topic for another time perhaps.
The take home point is that the movie making machine seems to be opening the door for lesser known but talented musicians to contribute to international media, and I for one count this to be a great thing. And secondarily, that I am cool.