Is it possible there’s anyone still unaware of the Twilight Phenomenon? Y’know, that in which legions of screaming fans (mostly female and of all ages) go batshit crazy for Stephenie Meyer’s overwritten supernatural romance about a girl who’s totally hot but doesn’t know it who falls for the hottest guy EVAR â€” and finds out he’s a vampire? Maybe there is. I’m skeptical. I’m also, clearly, not a big fan, though I will freely admit that I tore through the first book and only afterward felt a little dirty about it. Watching the internet fandom explode when the series’ fourth book, Breaking Dawn, came out this summer did make for hours of fun, though. As would reading the mountains of fanfiction, if I could bring myself to do so. (I don’t really begrudge anyone their fandom … I just hope they move on to better books when they’re done with it. Also, this stuff is just too easy to mock.)
But now, in a mere month, we’ll be given Twilight, the movie. And, somewhat perversely, I’m looking forward to it â€” and not just because it stars the very pretty Cedric Diggory Robert Pattinson, though that doesn’t hurt (nor do his bemused comments about the screaming fandom. Oh, RPattz! How charmingly naive you are!). It just looks so … indulgent? Goofy? Modestly epic? I’m not quite sure. It comes to us from Catherine Hardwicke, who made the praised-by-many, hated-by-me Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story, which, hey, it’s OK if that’s not ringing any bells, because almost no one saw it.
So ANYWAY (tm Klosterman), what put all this in my head was the email that arrived today bearing the tracklisting for (and a link to a stream of) the Twilight soundtrack. Which, well, huh. This is a little wacky. My first impressions are as follows. And when I say first, I mean I’m typing while I listen. Here goes…
1. Muse – “Supermassive Black Hole”
Muse used to sound like fake Radiohead. This, though, has that sort of quasi-industrial feel that’s required when your vampires aren’t historical. Also, it sounds like it was left over from the soundtrack to The Crow. Hello, falsetto vocals, slightly ominous tone, dance-friendly rhythms? Yeah, I see where we’re going with this.
2. Paramore- “Decode”
OK, my pop punk side likes this; at first, it’s like the singer from Pretty Girls Make Graves fronting a band on Vagrant. But it’s got that reverb-laden Evanescence thing that tries to cover for fairly standard songwriting, and I can’t get behind that. Swooning, my-life-is-ending teen angst. Which can be a good thing, but this is too generic in its swoopy faux-gothiness.
3. The Black Ghosts- “Full Moon”
Despite its title, this song is clearly going to play during a scene in the daylight, as it’s almost … cheerful. Acoustic guitars, annoyingly funky bass line, odd strings. OK. It’s fine. It’s the song no one will remember when they leave, but it’s fine.
4. Linkin Park- “Leave Out All the Rest”
Totally nondescript third? fourth?-generation emo (don’t get me started on the history of this damn word) that has all the weight of the pop bands that were popular when I was in high school. I’m being mean, but I’m not kidding; this sounds totally manufactured, like Linkin Park is just the singer and a bunch of studio wizards created the music.
5. Mute Math- “Spotlight (Twilight Mix)”
Slightly frenzied, guitar-based pop that reminds me of one or another of those mid-â€™90s British guitar bands, though I can’t pin down which. But with a really sensitive singer. This isn’t terrible, but I’m not going to run out and search out the record.
6. Perry Farrell- “Go All the Way (Into The Twilight)”
The first of two truly odd selections. Perry Farrell? And Twilight? It’d be totally awesome if this inspired some 14-year-olds to fall in love with Jane’s Addiction, but I’m not holding my breath. But â€” what â€” the …? I take that all back. There’s no way anyone is going to draw a line from this dance-beat trifle to “Been Caught Stealing.” I’m honestly too boggled to think of anything else to say. Whiny vocals, Farrell alternating with a female singer who sort of talk-sings … you can almost see the strobe lights on the dance floor.
7. Collective Soul- “Tremble for My Beloved”
And the second odd selection. I can’t see the words “Collective Soul” without remembering that video for “Shine” â€” wasn’t that the one with the trees? Regardless, Collective Soul falls into the same place in my head where Candlebox lives: rock bands that never needed to get that famous. Alas. Anyway, this sounds like a certain kind of â€™90s college rock updated for the naughty aughties with different guitar effects. Everything on this soundtrack is so slick it’s getting hard to pick one song out from the others. But if you asked my 20-year-old self about this â€” and didn’t tell her who it was â€” she’d probably like it. And that’s admitting a lot.
8. Paramore- “I Caught Myself”
Starts well enough, with a pretty guitar bit and the sort of rolling rhythm that tells you this might swell into a crowd-pleasing arena rock song. I like this singer well enough; they need to just let her sing and stop glossing the vocals up, but she has a tiny, believable bit of fury in her voice. It’s a little too much, too produced, too easy to imagine it stripped of all sincerity and canned into a pop diva tune. This soundtrack is full of aching hearts and impassioned vocals, but most of them have been polished to a painfully bright gloss. Everything’s so damn radio-friendly.
9. Blue Foundation- “Eyes On Fire”
This spare, slightly spacy song from a group of Danes is the most interesting thing to turn up here yet. It requires a little bit of patience; the fragile-voiced singer waits just long enough between some of her phrases that you start anticipating the next line. Eventually, the band starts to fill in the empty space that makes the song intriguing, and it goes a bit more familiar, but it does break the soundtrack’s mold; there are no generically distorted guitars to muddy up the feeling of solitude the song conjures up. It’s a little Cure-y, especially during a certain part when the drummer goes a little crazy (tell me you don’t think Disintegration when that happens!), and a little … well, a little â€™80s, but not in the ways usually thought of.
10. Rob Pattinson- “Never Think”
I read somewhere that while Twilight was filming around Portland, RPattz would occasionally play at bars and such. And I’m still a little mad that no one ever told me where to find him. But whatever. This is a pretty, earnest, acoustic guitar ditty that you’d hear some unassuming fellow on the stage at Sam Bond’s break into. Everyone would go quiet, waiting for the vocals to start. And then … then you’d wonder why the English boy was singing with a sort of mumble-twang. He sounds so shy! It’s a sweet, simple, quiet Americana-folk-bedroom-singer-songwriter sort of song, but this kid (he’s 22) sings with an unpolished sort of honesty; he sounds nothing like a movie star. And I like that.
11. Iron and Wine- “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”
On this soundtrack, one of these things is not like the other. Sure, the â€™90s college rock was odd enough, but Sam Beam turning up â€” and showing up RPattz by being listed right after him â€”Â is possibly even odder. As expected, this song (from The Shepherd’s Dog) is heart-tuggingly gorgeous, a musicbox beauty of acoustic guitar and accordion and falsetto that shifts into something a bit more sturdy partway through … and then the stream craps out on me, which figures. But its very inclusion gives me a little bit more liking for the film’s music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, who clearly knows how to use an often overwrought, sometimes believably emotional song (so sue me; I love Snow Patrol) to great effect; she works on Grey’s Anatomy, among other shows.
12. Carter Burwell- “Bellaâ€™s Lullaby”
You can’t hate on Burwell, who’s done scores for, well, everybody. And “Bella’s Lullaby,” which reportedly is a theme that runs throughout the film, is just as it should be: a pretty piano melody (which Edward plays for her at some point) that, at varying points, is stripped down and simple or wrapped up strings that provide drama and depth.
The Twilight soundtrack comes out Nov. 4; the movie will be in theaters Nov. 21. I know you can’t wait.
EDIT: It seems that other EW, Entertainment Weekly, already had this idea. Their version has more pictures, though. For what that’s worth.