Jennifer’s Body (OST) Review
Posted by Michael James on 08.31.2009
Megan Fox pictures! (And a review of the soundtrack to her new film). No, I'm serious... Megan Fox pictures! Come for the pictures, stay for the review...
Let’s consider the role of the soundtrack in today’s music industry. In years past, a film soundtrack not only functioned as a companion to the film, but was also a great way to hear new music by both old and future favorites. Music supervisors would often fill soundtracks with new tracks commissioned from both established stars and up-and-coming acts (example: Singles). In other instances, a film’s soundtrack would capture the sounds of an era whether 60’s rock (Forest Gump) or 50’s R&B (The Big Chill). But in case you haven’t been paying attention, the music business has changed, and so have the role of soundtracks. Between music blogs, myspace and ever-accessible downloads, music fans can find their own new favorite band. And as music is often consumed song-by-song, rather than album-by-album, a cohesive soundtrack is unnecessary and often overlooked. In the face of this sea change, the Fueled by Ramen label has released the soundtrack to the Megan Fox vehicle, Jennifer’s Body and hope to match the success of the soundtrack to Diablo Cody’s last film, Juno.
1. Florence + The Machine- Kiss With a Fist
2. Panic! At the Disco- New Perspective
3. Hayley Williams- Teenagers
4. Little Boots- New In Town
5. Dashboard Confessional- Finishing School
6. Low Shoulder- Through the Trees
7. Cute Is What We Aim For- Time
8. Screeching Weasel- I Can See Clearly Now
9. Cobra Starship- Chew Me Up and Spit Me Out
10. All Time Low- Toxic Valentine
11. Black Kids- I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
12. White Lies- Death
13. The Sword- Celestial Crown
14. Silversun Pickups- Little Lover’s So Polite
15. Lissy Trullie- Ready for the Floor
What, did you think I was going to pass up the opportunity to use Fox pictures to drive up my page views?
The Jennifer’s Body soundtrack features 15 songs (a deluxe edition features 3 additional songs) by a list of bands which seem ripped straight a cool high schooler’s playlist, including Ramen’s own artists, Cobra Starship, Hayley Williams of Paramore And Panic! At the Disco. However, only half of the songs are newly recorded, with the balance having appeared on the artists own albums and EPs, most of which have been released in the past year. As a result, the soundtrack feels more like a new music sampler pulled out of a discarded Urban Outfitters shopping bag than a coherent album.
Many of the album’s best songs come from some of the lesser known artists. The album opening “Kiss With a Fist,” the first single from Florence + the Machine features punky distorted and an assertive female vocal built around the controversial notion that “A kiss with a fist is better than none.” Elsewhere, “Death” by the up-and-coming British band White Lies has a strong ‘80s feel, complete with keyboards and a dreamy, pronounced vocal style.
As one might expect from the soundtrack to a film about a literal man-eater, Jennifer’s Body provides a spotlight for several up-and-coming female-led rock bands and/or female solo acts. At the wise old age of 20, the success of Paramore makes lead singer Hayley Williams a veritable elder stateswoman. Yet, her solo song “Teenagers” is a mixed bag. While she delivers her trademark punk-influenced vocals, they seem misplaced over the acoustic instrumentation and hand claps. Little Boots finds more success with her rousing dance-pop track “New in Town.” Over a bed of keyboards and synths, she repeats what could be a slogan for high schoolers worldwide: “I don’t have a lot of money, but we’re gonna be fine/ no I don’t have a penny, but I’ll show you a real good time.”
Just to make sure you’re still with me….
The weakest efforts on the album come from its most experienced artists. Dashboard Confessional’s “Finishing School” sounds like it was cribbed from Weezer’s discard bin. At the same time, there’s something disconcerting about 34-year old Chris Carrabba singing about high school “mean girls”. Its also hard to believe that famous punk rockers Screeching Weasel really reformed for a fourth time just to provide a pointless Jimmy Cliff-meets-Rancid cover of the reggae classic “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Other disappointments are the Silversun Pickups’ “Little Lover’s So Polite” (I just couldn’t get past Brian Aubert’s voice- dude sounds like he’s 13) and The Sword’s “Celestial Crown” (a pointless and tuneless 2 minute of distorted guitar instrumental). Likewise, Cute Is What We Aim For may actually want to consider aiming for a new lyricist. “Time” veers into high school poetry territory with lines like “I need the product of your fears/ In the form of tears/It’s the only way I can survive/It breaks my heart to see you cry.”
On the other hands, several of the bands on the soundtrack exceeded my expectations. Both Panic! At the Disco and All-Time Low provide catchy renditions of the emo-ish pop-rock they have become known for with “New Perspective” and “Toxic Valentine,” respectively. Also, “Through the Trees”, which is credited to the film’s fictional band Low Shoulder is an ambitious track that features an instrumental which evokes the Smashing Pumpkins classic “Disarm.”
So in conclusion,
If you’re like me, most of your music ends up in an endless .mp3 “shuffle.” In order to preserve your valuable disk space, here’s what’s Ipod-worthy from the soundtrack to Jennifer’s Body:
“Kiss With a Fist”, “New Perspective”, “New In Town”, “Through the Trees”, “Chew Me Up and Spit Me Out”, “Toxic Valentine”, “Death”, “I’m Not Gonna Teach…”, “Ready for the Floor”
The 411: Like most soundtrack, Jennifer’s Body is a mixed bag. While there are a decent number of solid tracks, there’s no real reason to recommend shelling out your hard earned dough for the full release, especially where so many of the songs are available elsewhere. I suggest you sample the disc and just cherry pick the tracks that you like—you may find some new bands to check up on in the process.