Various Artists

2032 albums, 69 tracks



"Various Artists"

Mar 06, 2019

These Songs Served As Soundtrack For A Marvel Movie. What Does Vol. 2 Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) say of the original albums?

Written by @taylor / 9 mins read

So check it out – I am huge Sci Fi fan – more so than even a Marvel fan, and I have some dreams that I intend to turn into reality; where I commit my Hard Sci Fi and Space Opera material to the screen, or perhaps at the very least, I turn my ideas into a series of novels. But back to the screen; I have often felt that mixing some modern day music in a totally future setting would be so awesome, so long as it made sense, either thematically, or plot-wise. It looks like a Marvel film beat me to it though. The fantastic thing about the Guardians of the Galaxy series is that it manages to satisfy both of my requirements, as its soundtrack serves both thematic and plot functions. In the story, an Earthling’s mix tape travels with him to far off cosmic places – a reminder of home that just happened to be his only earthly possession after being abducted by the Ravagers. These tapes and their importance take on new, more diabolical meaning in the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2., as the music itself thematically mirror specific scenes happening, or entire character arcs. The compilation itself is chock full of throwback music that would be popular in the year 1980 - the time when character Ego met and romanced Meredith Quill, protagonist Peter Quill’s mother. This music would become tied up in that legendary union which would have dire consequences for Peter Quill’s life. The songs, billed by some as one hit wonders of their day, are all singles that are solid works of art by today’s standards. Running the gamut of Power Pop, Soft Rock, Hard Rock, and even Funk courtesy of Parliament, and I have to say that the tracks here all Rock, irregardless of their categorization. With the genesis of this album’s concept out of the way, I would much prefer to treat each track as a special one, irregardless of whether or not there is a one hit wonder factor attached, because at the end of the day, the songs here are ridiculously good in their own way, and what is more, they are each attached to a real album that, dollars to donuts, are probably good albums that you need to know about. So let’s dispense with the fandom and the trivia of what song was playing in what pivotal scene during this Marvel franchise, and instead look at what is most important of all here – the actual music.

This Album Truly Rocks, With Edgy Electric Guitar Tracks And Smooth Easy Listening Grooves

The Power Pop exhibited on “Fox On the Run” by The Sweet and “Surrender” by Cheap Trick are textbook examples of the youthful and fun energy of the genre. Perfect for a family friendly film, and enough musicality and entertainment value too satisfy both older and younger crowds. Plus, we’ve heard these iconic rock songs a bazillion times, yet they don’t get old – at least for me. “Surrender” is found on Cheap Trick’s 1978 album Heaven Tonight, and that record is full of explosive Rock like “On Top of the World” and “California Man”, while “Fox On the Run” can be found on The Sweet’s Desolation Boulevard, with a ton of operatic glam rock, which highlights teen-angst on tracks like “The Six Teens”, plus the only song that might actually be on the same iconic level as “Fox On the Run” – the frenetic dance number “The Ballroom Blitz.” It doesn’t get any more glam than this, yet subsequent versions by The Ramones would capitalize on the punkier aspects of this mosh pit ready track. The seventies truly had some of the funnest and most challenging Rock tracks ever, and even when the tempo and the energy was turned down a little, the music was still a thing of beauty, as heard on the very smooth “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”, where the music is at turns hard and at other times a super swanky dance beat. Owing to more haunted chords, “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” possesses the same easy listening groove – this time upping the Soul even more so that it approaches R&B territory. The vocal harmonies are the center piece here, reminiscent of Seals & Crofts’ similar vocal dedication. The dance doesn’t stop there, with a great Country-Soul number from the legend Glenn Campbell, doing his late seventies Countrypolitan thing - which was Country’s answer to the Disco explosion. It bumps along with such a smile inducing spirit – and accurately represents the tastes of the characters at the turn of the 1980s. There is a slight tongue and cheek vibe I suspect which is intentional, acknowledging that this music is all undoubtedly fantastic, but also part of a crowd-pleasing, FM Radio vibe that recognizes its audience not as sophisticated musical connoisseurs, but rather as non critical throngs looking for easy entertainment. None of the music here is lyrically that deep, and rather, it’s more concerned with satisfying the soul.

Timeless Jams Can Be Dropped Onto Any Soundtrack, Because Audiences Will Respond Nostalgically

One of the most memorable needle drops in the film is the opening scene where Groot has Quill’s tape player and headset on, dancing to Electric Light Opera’s “Mr. Blue Sky”, oblivious to the violent chaos around him. Charming as this scene is, it breaks the 4th wall somewhat – because it doesn’t serve any function except to introduce the audience to the fact that there will be classic FM music in the film. It is the opening credit sequence, designed to be fun, hilarious, but I don’t see the plot advancing much – as it is, at the end of the day, a mere dance sequence, perhaps explaining something about the character of Groot and his initial boundless childlike innocence, which will sort of change into a more responsible nature as he becomes pivotal in later life and death decision making. The song “Mr. Blue Sky” has no particular connection to either the scene or the movie, that I can extrapolate, but it is worthwhile to mention that the original meaning of the track is rumored to be about the simple joy of a sunny day breaking through a long bout of bad weather, and cherishing that moment when inevitably, Mr. Night, shows up to cloak everything in darkness. The content on this track’s host album Out of the Blue is supposedly a result of lead Jeff Lynne’s writing process, where he was holed up in a Swiss Alps retreat and could not come up with the necessary musical material during two weeks of muggy rainy weather, until the sun finally broke through the clouds, and he got the idea for “Mr. Blue Sky” and the subsequent tracks, which also take after themes regarding weather or geological environment. For a different feel, the music of Sam Cooke completely fits the exploratory romantic moment between Quill and love interest Gamora, with the soulful “Bring It On Home to Me”, and fans of the songs must check out a fantastic greatest hits collection, the 30 Greatest Hits: Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964. And then Vol. 2 Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) goes even more soulful, or shall I say funky, on one of the ‘nastiest’ dance songs that has ever been recorded – “Flashlight” by Parliament – which hits you like a ton of bricks. You must do yourself the funkiest of favors and check out the album Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome, which has many other funk standards of this epic caliber. On Guardians, all of the aforementioned jams are technically proficient, and serve some story functions, but most importantly, they represent timeless joints that will never be out of place in a Marvel movie Space Opera because of the ‘nostalgia factor’ – where it is a guarantee that each and every song will connect on a deep emotional level with the audience members of every background and age range. To the last point, these songs have built in success factors, and even kids hearing the music for the first time while watching their favorite superheroes, will develop a taste for these infectious grooves which should follow them into adulthood.

The Concept That Peter Quill Cherishes This Music Says Something About Us

I really do like the music featured on this album. I especially have an affinity for one of the funkiest songs in the galaxy, Parliament’s “Flashlight.” I appreciate that the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise found a way to plausibly weave the awesome mix tapes into the story. Admittedly, when I saw the first few scenes in the first movie, I thought ‘uh oh.’ Is the music going to be part of some cash grab, whereby CDs of already done-to-death music is going to be repackaged and sold, without respect to cinematic context? I mean, it generally seemed like a super Hollywood decision thought up by unimaginative suits – the same executives that slap a nostalgic hit on Gap and Apple commercials and then call the concept done. Thankfully, the screen writers made sure that the soundtrack was inclusive emotionally, as this music was tied to Peter Quill’s core sense of past. Alas, there are conflicts to face in movies, and character metamorphoses to undertake. After all, could Quill stay happy just by listening to the same cassette forever? Even though these mixes allowed him to communicate certain feelings with other characters, and helped him through hard times, the conflict that he would have to face would eventually be the truth about his past. The music tied him to the only family he thought he had (his mother and the legend of his father), but he needed to move on in order to embrace his new galactic family, in order for his character to transcend. In the same way, Vol. 2 Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is transcendental through its variety of styles, which should convince any new listener to move beyond their own genre boundaries, and discover the galactic scope of musical possibilities out there.

Mar 06, 2019

Twitch Streamer ‘Ninja’ Brings Soundtracks Back To The Pro Gaming World

Written by @camjameson from Extraneous Routes  / 4 mins read

In what is certainly one of the most peculiar developments in today’s electronic music market, the biggest push towards diversifying the industry in 2018 – also leading into 2019 – comes not from the scene itself, but from a completely unrelated outlier: Ninja, the Twitch streamer extraordinaire – In the past year alone, the 27-year old gamer has achieved unprecedented celebrity thanks to streaming himself playing the game Fortnite online, with all manner of advertisers & companies turning to him for endorsements, but the most important of these is the “first-of-its-kind” partnership he scored with production house Astralwerks, creating Ninjawerks, Vol.1, a custom soundtrack to Ninja’s gaming persona & by proxy the online gaming network as a whole, bringing us back to the good ol’ days of competitive gaming when those who created worlds with digital sprites & those who wrote electronic music worked hand-in-hand.

Fortnite As Part Of The Digital Zeitgeist

As invasive as it may be in your everyday life, especially for those with children, Fortnite has become the hot-spot through which many cultural movements have spawned, literally influencing an entire generation of people who either play, compete in or simply watch the game; Thus, everything the game’s top-performer Ninja does is godsend – Enter Astralwerks, who helped gather the biggest names in electronic music – & some you might never have heard of – like 3LAU, Tïesto & Nero together to create the perfect gaming playlist, featuring original works like “Game Time” & “Lullaby” specifically for his style of play. Just think about that: A guy who makes millions playing games at home has his own soundtrack! That’s how influential Fortnite has really become.

Every Tournament Needs Its Battle Music

Now, soundtracks for gaming adventures are no new thing; Everyone from EA to Playground Games to Rockstar have been licensing music for their Sports & Open-World games for decades now, choosing music they think will go along with their fan’s interests – What’s different here is that the included music is written to enhance your gaming experience, much like the Eurodance soundtrack written for Mortal Kombat back in the day someone always blasted during a tournament. Songs like Kaskade’s “On Your Mind” simulate the intense bliss one feels when they’re having a particularly stellar playthrough, whilst others like GTA & Cimo Fränkel’s “All About It” are straight up hype tracks for when you’re devastating your opposition.

Capturing A Certain Era Of Electronic Dance Excellence

We can gab all day about how the music itself connects with Ninja & the gaming industry, but what’s truly special about Ninjawerks, Vol.1 is that it unearths an entire era of electronic music that has since faded from existence: The origins of EDM – Back in the late-noughties, EDM was actually defined as its own style instead of being used as a blanket-term for all electronic dance music, characterized by harsh anthem synths, a boisterous attitude & a healthy connection to Club culture. This gets shown beautifully in “Tilted Towers,” in which Alesso rekindles the abrasive Hard Trance energy the Bay Area was dancing to in 2008 whilst Dillon Francis jumps into 2012-era Club Hits with “LFGD,” blasting your ears with that Hyphy Lil Jon “Outta Your Mind” noise everyone misses dearly – It’s like reliving the Bush administration all over again.

The Renaissance Of Hacker-Life

As mentioned before, the gaming industry – particular PC gaming – & electronic scenes once went hand-in-hand with one-another; For every Counter Strike match or Warcraft 3 competition there was some Cascada or Benny Benassi blasting in the background – Ninjawerks, Vol. 1 not only promotes this partnership, but breathes new life into a scene that had become to reliant on Electro Swing tunes with the advent of YouTuber culture, making the gaming world seem dark & cool again with songs like “Affliction” or just the natural evolution of humankind with others like “Love You Just The Same” by Ducky; You can be one of those kids who thinks they live in Blade Runner or Hackers again, born into an electronic existence that transcends reality – Well, that or you can just have some cool jams, your choice.

Turns Out 69 Is More Fun Than You’d Think In NOW That's What I Call Music, Vol. 69

Essentially mirroring the dialogue of my Narrative review for the most recent KIDZ BOP 39 compilation album, I’ve taken enough trips around the sun to have seen the inception of the now-iconic NOW That’s What I Call Music series within my lifetime, from its early days as the go-to music discovery tool for those who want to spice up their party playlists but don’t necessarily have the musical education to curate such hot-ticket items on their own to its inevitable place within the cultural lexicon as a shorthand for the most generic of mainstream music interests available. The major difference between the two properties though – aside from not relying on the underdeveloped talents of pre-teen performers – is that NOW That’s What I Call Music has virtually always gathered together the best that the radio-friendly popular music circuit has to offer, keeping its thumb pressed firmly on the pulse of mainstream culture & providing mixes that are tonally-balanced, universally-acclaimed by modern audiences & utterly devoid of duds within its track-list so long as that year’s respective genre trends weren’t complete trash; After all, just because a certain style was particularly popular on the radio doesn’t always mean it’s worth listening to on a regular basis – Yeah, I’m talkin’ about YOU Dubstep songs from the early-teens & Eurodance from the early-noughties. Though the UK-born compilation machine seemed to show no signs of stopping as it reached American shores in the late-nineties, eventually spinning into the massively-successful property it is today, the previously multiple-Platinum rated series started to hit a snag around 2009, with less than half of its subsequent releases hitting Gold-tier sales & everything from 2015-onward either sounding tonally-identical across each album – likely attributed to the overwhelming presence of Tropical Pop & Reggae Fusion at the time – or simply missing the hottest trends by months & even years at a time thanks to the ever-increasing speed at which the industry could move in a more heavily-connected internet era exemplified by low-cost music-streaming platforms like Spotify & YouTube; As such, the last thirty record releases in the series have failed to garner as much attention as their predecessors had, resulting in the NOW That’s What I Call Music name losing a lot of its flavour & audiences taking it about as seriously – read: not at all – as its younger sibling KIDS BOP, relegating it to an undeserved joke status moving forward – Thankfully, the music industry as a whole took some major leaps forward in 2018, with all manner of acts from Pop, Hip Hop, Rock, Country, Latin, Folk & even the essentially-defunct EDM scene pulling all the stops to push their brands out of the doldrums of banality towards a more resplendent age of creative expression, the most recent NOW That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 69 being a shining example of just how far we’ve come in the last year alone.

Written by camjameson from Extraneous Routes / Mar 06, 2019

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Volume 1 Singlehandedly Saved Retro Music

It goes without saying that as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned, Guardians Of The Galaxy is the best movie of the franchise, not only taking a bold leap head-first into the incredibly difficult territory of cosmic-focused comic lore but doing so with such comedic perfection that audiences who had previously shown little interest in comic book movies suddenly switched their tune entirely, driven to consume every subsequent movie with ravenous lust from that point onward. Movies like Iron Man were undeniable hits & the logistical skill it took to bring our favourite heroes together in The Avengers was a feat unto itself, but Guardians took things in a completely new direction that proved you could make an accessible cinematic adventure with relatively obscure characters become an overnight success so long as your casting is on-point, your cinematography is solid & the story you’re telling is one that’s compelling & relatable to the average movie-goer – Of course, whether or not the film was going to be a smash hit didn’t actually come down to the star-power of the cast or the quirkiness of the story being told, rather it was the magnificent soundtrack & its utilization in marketing materials that cemented this picture’s greatness from day one, taking a sharp left-turn from the epic symphonic rigamarole we had grown accustomed to by presenting listeners & viewers with a brilliant curation of retro hits of Classic Rock excellence, taking a huge risk for the sake of style to produce what’s easily the best Original Motion Picture Soundtrack since the superb one which accompanied Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy all the way back in the year of our comedic lord, 2004. Suddenly, once-niche tunes from artists like Elvin Bishop & Rupert Holmes were household names, delighting younger audiences who’d grown up with over-processed Pop nonsense & showing that you can have a multi-million dollar blockbuster reach the top of the charts without relying on the expensive symphonic arrangements of well-known composers such as Hans Zimmer or Jerry Goldsmith; Not that we should be diminishing the value of their masterful talents, but the game changed immeasurably with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).

Written by camjameson from Extraneous Routes / Mar 04, 2019

The Album May Be Called ‘The Greatest Showman’ But How Great Are The Musical Standards Of Today Compared To Greats Of The Past?

Full disclosure – I have not seen the movie The Greatest Showman, but this isn’t because I’m anti-musical or anything. When it comes to the music itself though, I go for classical songwriting more than these modern takes on musicals. My prime example would be one of my favorites on stage and on screen, the songs of “Into the Woods” by songwriter Stephen Sondheim. I truly don’t hear anything even close to that level of creativity and song to song variety on The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), with the exception of two rather intriguing tracks – the classicism of “Tightrope” and the epic invention of “Come Alive.” Of the other music, including the supposedly biggest, most important main theme songs, I feel that while they are each high quality productions, they sound much more like motivational Pop songs than live action musical numbers. This is the world we live in, I understand, and little children who grew up on Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are teens now with ears set for this bombastic style sound and predictable note pattern Loren Allred pursues on “Never Enough” , but I feel that amidst all the cacophony and volume, the melodies used are highly unsophisticated. And to hell with the magic of the lyrics if the melody line is too predictable. Which I should also point out – the lyrics for most of these tracks are extremely cliched – hardly any different from regular Pop lyricism, and more often than not, the text comes off as run of the mill positive reinforcement mantras rather than poetic or storied content. The tracks are appropriately exciting enough to exist inside a big top circus, but unfortunately, this music is not memorable at all in the way that all great musicals are designed to be. For me, this album is far from the greatest.

Written by taylor / Feb 28, 2019

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