Thoughts On Soundtracks.

Today, as our office stereo blasted the Garden State soundtrack (a pleasant surprise selection by my coworker) I got to thinking about how amazing it is as a compilation. It may well be the best top to bottom soundtrack of the last 10 years, or dare I say, ever. You have a solid opener in one of Coldplay's best songs "Don't Panic" and Colin Hay's "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" is one of those songs that makes me think of every relationship I've ever via mental film-flashback-montage. And then there's Iron & Wine's "Such Great Heights," Nick Drake's "One of These Things First" and "The Only Living Boy in New York" by Paul Simon. Really an amazing set that covers the idea of the film, but is authentically stand-alone, especially since time has removed the context from my memory. There are movies in which the soundtrack is a crutch, padding the story and generating the emotions through nostalgia, tone, etc (see my Words On Film: Watchmen), but Garden State never seemed quite as reliant on its music. Perhaps it's due to the awareness Zach Braff gives his characters about the music... that makes it almost diegetic for being non-diegetic.

My only reservation here is that there's another soundtrack that is near and dear to me from around the same time from a better movie. The 1980s compilation from Donnie Darko is poppy, energetic, fun, disillusioned and haunting. It makes you feel. And very nearly cry, with the ending cover of "Mad World". This has Echo & the Bunnymen, Tears For Fears, INXS, Joy Division and Duran Duran! All in one place, blending from front to back as perfectly as anyone could ask for. This music is a bit more evocative, and darker, and feels more contained in the film as it all functioned initially to create the '80s time-space as a setting. I tend to remember the film more often than not when I listen to it, maybe due to recency, maybe just because the cinematography is so expressive and dramatic, and I'll fall back on that crap descriptor "artsy". All in all, it's just mind-bogglingly good.

So, what I'm wondering is can we have a vote? Which of these two soundtracks is the best of the last 9 years? Is either actually strong enough to snatch that incredible "EVER" label? Thoughts. Comments. Please, and thank you.

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