1. Track List (67)

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?

taylor
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.

Seven Years Later, Just What Is The Mainstream Obsession With Frozen’s Soundtrack?

camjameson
Written by camjameson
/ 9 mins read

For all the great lengths I go to present myself as a card-carrying member of the Punk & Metal communities, my musical interests typically favouring anything that’s fast, abrasive & melodically-experimental in comparison to the generic material you’d find on the radio, I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t admit I absolutely love everything about theatre music & showtunes. Aside from a lengthy career as a bassist & keyboardist in various Punk, Hardcore, Tech Metal, Electronica & Garage Rock bands, I’m also classically trained in brass instruments like the trumpet & euphonium, spending an even larger portion of my life playing Symphonic, Blues, Jazz & March music throughout my pre-college schooling & even a bit afterward, so it’s only natural that my interests would cross over with the Drama & Theatre-kid crowds from time to time seeing as our worlds were so overwhelmingly intertwined. I spent the majority of my youth cherishing popular stage productions such as The Phantom Of The Opera, Grease, Rent & Chicago in addition to having a fairly average obsession with the whole of Disney’s musical library just as I’m sure you & everyone you know did when growing up; This is to say, I’m fairly confident my analysis of what makes an effective musical production is on-point, both in a technical understanding & an appreciation for the craft itself – I mean, hell, I can distinctly remember my older brother razzing me back in 2013 for my embarrassingly supportive glee watching NBC’s musical television series Smash as a 24-year old adult, drawn to the show for its compelling demonstration of behind-the-scenes theatre life & astonishingly high-caliber sound-design when it came to the actual musical numbers; The fact that I also happened to havean insatiable crush on the magnificent Katharine McPhee was merely a coincidence – With such a passion for the arts & a soft-spot for musical theatre, you can probably imagine my befuddlement when I discovered I had no interest in seeing Frozen whatsoever when it was initially released, frankly finding it to be an annoyingly-rudimentary musical unworthy of my time or money, an opinion soon to be exacerbated by how intensely it was praised by mainstream audiences in the subsequent years, so much so that you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing someone humming “Let It Go” off-key in the background for nearly a year! Well, time has passed & I’ve finally decided to check out Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) in full to see if maybe I was just missing something in my elitist disdain, blinded by my love for the productions of yesteryear.

Loosely Chained To The Disney Charms Of Yore

One of the defining factors of a good Disney musical arrangement is the sense of identity & presence a tune generally shows; You can instantly identify what film or stage-show a given song is from just from the style of instrumentation used & the thematic imagery baked into each composition, transporting you straight into the culture or region it was meant to evoke & thus taking you on an aural adventure you can really connect with regardless of if you can understand the lyrics or not. Another important element in the Disney aesthetic is the anachronistic whimsy utilized a song’s construction, building whatever story you’re trying to illustrate upon a foundation of nearly centuries-old Symphonic instrumentation, classic stage theatricality on the part of the performers & insanely-emotive narratives that never quite repeat themselves or at the very least hold a distinctly old-school set of values you won’t find in modern media; These are typically stories set in medieval times or the romantic period, so you don’t want to break the immersion by relying on too many mainstream techniques from the ‘real world’ – In what is certainly a huge surprise to me coming into this as a hater, Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) actually manages to adhere to this system pretty well for a good handful of its runtime, producing some fantastic set-piece moments & jaunty showtune soundscapes you could easily find on a compilation album alongside The Wizard Of Oz’s “Over The Rainbow” or Les Misérables “I Dreamed A Dream,” the one caveat being that the best tracks on this album are the songs that weren’t marketed at all like the background tracks written by Christophe Beck & the few full-cast numbers like “Frozen Heart;” I find the latter particularly exciting as it does a fantastic job of introducing you to the fictionalized Norwegian kingdom sisters Elsa & Anna live in, evoking the essence of seafaring peoples & the folkloric nature of their musical structures so you can put yourself in their shoes for the remainder of the story just as any good musical number should do. On the other end of my theatrical requirements checklist, songs like the soothing “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” completely understand what it means to be a musical by giving listeners a narrative which ebbs & flows both lyrically & instrumentally, encompassing all of the emotions playing out in the siblings’ conversation through clever use of string elements whilst simultaneously giving the singers room to vamp & inject their personalities into the mix, culminating in an enrapturing sonic experience so memorable that you take it into your heart long after finishing the record.

The Curse Of Pop Strikes Again. Love is an open door, Let It Go

With this being my first official foray into the Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), I was genuinely surprised by how much I was enjoying myself in its first few numbers after loathing its existence for nearly seven years, even bopping along to comically quirky tunes like “Fixer Upper” which gave the same sort of happy-go-lucky international bounce as Elton John’s arrangements for The Road To El Dorado’s wonderfully expressive soundtrack, but it wasn’t long before everything went barreling downhill, sabotaging itself from the inside-out with some of the worst musical numbers I’ve heard since 2016’s massively-overrated La La Land; Yes, I’m talking about everyone’s favourite earworm & the bane of my existence a few years back: “Let It Go” – To put it simply, just because a song achieves mainstream success does not mean it’s a well-composed tune, as your average movie-going audience-member would generally eat up even the worst derivative garbage out there so long as there’s enough media attention being directed towards it, so eager to be a part of the social conversation that they’ll accept pretty much anything that’s easy on the ears. This track is perhaps one of the worst offenders in terms of Disney’s modern approach to musical theatre, utilizing a painfully asinine chord progression not too dissimilar to any number of formulaic Pop productions that’ve hit the radio in recent years, a boring narrative structure equivalent to a tween singer’s novelty album & easily Idina Menzel’s most cringeworthy performance ever put to tape; I mean, when you look back on the mesmerizing soundscapes which formed the bulk of legendary Disney films like Beauty & The Beast, there’s absolutely no comparison quality-wise, with this track possessing no personality whatsoever & no sense of fantastical splendor you’ve come to expect from the house of mouse, lacking the basic principles required to inspire imagination thanks to its heavy reliance on modern Pop music formulas – If you still need convincing that this album is plagued by Pop sensibilities, look no further than the karaoke-esque “Love Is An Open Door” with its amateur tonal balance & weak instrumentation or even “In Summer,” a number that feels like it was ripped straight out of High School Musical back when Radio Disney way all the rage with every unpopular theatre-kid in the nation looking for mainstream validation. In a word, these songs are just embarrassing beyond belief coming from a studio with such immense power.

True Symphonic Brilliance Is The Only Saving Grace

It’s pretty obvious that my long-held misgivings about Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)’s public-facing contents haven’t changed even one iota after giving the album a fighting chance, but rather than simply writing it off as the dud I always thought it was, I’ve actually grown angrier in the process of this playthrough; Why? Well, while the most heavily-marketed material is certainly the filth I always claimed it to be, the latter-half of the album is packed full of admittedly-spectacular symphonic compositions worthy of the highest praise, an achievement made worthless seeing as the average listener is only concerned with the Pop productions featuring notable vocalists, meaning all this symphonic expertise is being utterly wasted unless you actually watch the film in its entirety – Think about it, when’s the last time you bought a Hans Zimmer soundtrack from a movie just to hear how beautiful the strings were or how menacing the brass section could be? Outside of classically-trained musicians such as myself, most Frozen fans wouldn’t be able to tell you the differences between the epic battle-cries of “Summit Siege” & the Nutcracker-like melodic bliss of tunes like “Some People Are Worth Melting For” & that’s honestly a damned shame as these arrangements are full of the very charisma I’d previously stated made Disney productions so enthralling to begin with. Sadly, these 22 tracks amongst the album’s 32-song runtime fall upon deaf ears, destined to exist as a dead-zone of incredible content just outside the realm of interests for the overwhelming majority of listeners who even cared enough to spend their money on the record, resulting in any residual funds the performers receive being pity-income rather than honestly-earned payments for all their hard work – Maybe I’m just jaded knowing how difficult it is to make a living as a studio-musician in a market designed to praise the lowest-common-denominator of Pop personalities these days, but I can’t bring myself to appreciate even the slightest glimmers of talent present in Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)’s introductory moments when there’s so much wasted talent floating just beneath the surface. So, yeah, I still hate Frozen & everything it represents, but maybe – just maybe – there’s hope for Disney musicals yet, as audiences are going to get tired of today’s trends eventually & will hopefully yarn for the magical arrangements of yesteryear in due time.

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  / Mar 06, 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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