2014 in Review: A Soundtrack

Aside from very generously offering to collate the votes in our Failed Critics Awards 2014, James has also found time to return to the site to run through his favourite soundtracks of the past 12 months. The big question is, of course, did he manage to find something to get even more excited about than when Kristen Wiig sand a David Bowie song last year? Let’s find out…

by James Diamond (@CarlVaggio)

Apart from the awards themselves, this is always the most fun article I get to write for the site. And these days it’s pretty much the only article I get around to writing. I’m at the age now where I don’t really feel like I need any more music, and I’ve certainly stopped listening to the radio or watching MTV. Or even VH1. Almost all of the new music on my mp3 player these days comes from film soundtracks, and this article is a small celebration of the brilliant songs I’ve heard used in films this year. Some of them are old friends seen in a brand new light, while some are original compositions that won me over. All of them have been earworms at 6am at one point or another over the year. So, in no particular order…

Frank’s Most Likeable Song Ever (Frank)

Lenny Abrahamson’s film (loosely inspired by author/screenwriter Jon Ronson’s time as a keyboard player with Frank Sidebottom) has a number of great musical moments that deserve a place on this list, as befitting a great musical road movie that takes elements from films like Spinal Tap and the Leningrad Cowboys films. Jon’s (Domnhall Gleeson) opening scenes walking around his suburban town and failing miserably to gain inspiration from his surroundings are delightful, while the performances of Frank’s band The Soronprfbs are all very watchable. However, this thirty second ditty sums up the inner turmoil of the outsider artist who deep down just wants to be loved.

Hooked on a Feeling (Guardians of the Galaxy)

The soundtrack for James Gunn’s Marvel space opera was a wonderful concept, taking the form of the cassette that was Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) only remaining possession from his childhood on earth, and as such was packed with some cracking songs from the 1970s. I’m cheating a little bit though, as although this song was used well within the film itself, I’m choosing it here purely for its appearance in the film’s first trailer. I had mixed expectations of the film when it was announced, but hearing the familiar OOGA-CHAKA chant and refrain of the chorus towards the end, coupled with the original (and superior in my opinion) tagline “You’re Welcome” completely put my mind at ease. This film was never going to be anything but great fun.

Interrogation Song (Muppets Most Wanted)

A little like the second series of Flight of the Conchords, Brett McKenzie’s songs for this film initially suffered in comparison to the accessibility of his first efforts, and much like that underrated second season, the songs in Muppets Most Wanted prove to have a depth and charm that easily matches those from the 2012 ‘original’. ‘We’re Doing a Sequel’ would have been the obvious choice, opening the film in a self-referential and tongue-in-cheek fashion (“we can’t do any worse than The Godfather 3”), but it’s this classic musical song starring Sam the Eagle and Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) that stole the show for me. Surely a Brett McKenzie-penned Broadway musical is on the cards?

Live and Let Die (American Hustle)

Last year’s article featured a hilarious performance from a great actor lip-syncing to a cheesy but enjoyable chart classic, and this year is no different. American Hustle’s soundtrack is probably my favourite collection of songs released this year, and everyone one of them is used with clinical precision in David O. Russell’s heavily nominated, but not hugely liked (except by me it seems) true-crime thriller. Jennifer Lawrence did two things in this film that I will forever love her for. The first is introducing the phrase ‘science oven’ into my lexicon, and the second is this; miming to Wings’ Live and Let Die while doing the housework in front of her stunned son.

Everything is Awesome (The Lego Movie)

This is another one of those moments when very early into a film everything just clicked and I settled in to enjoy the ride. If you follow me on Twitter, listened to me on the podcast, or were simply unfortunate enough to bump into me in the street, then you probably know how much love and respect I have for The Lego Movie. I’ll be going into more depth on the Failed Critics Awards podcast, and in my review of the year piece next week, so I’ll just leave you to enjoy a clip from the funniest and most heart-warming advert ever made.

Higgs Boson Blues (20,000 Days on Earth)

I almost feel like I’m cheating here, as this clip is essentially a performance by one of the most electric and interesting frontmen in rock. Of course this documentary/concert film/therapy session about Nick Cave was going to grab a spot on my list, and I don’t care how unfair anyone says it is. The clip I’ve chosen is the recording session for one of the tacks from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds most recent album, Push the Sky Away. Concert films are pretty common, but we don’t very often get a chance to glimpse into the creative process, something which this film is brilliant at showing us.

Please Mr Kennedy (Inside Llewyn Davis)

From a very real recording session to a completely fictional one, but one that is no less entertaining. One of the great things about Inside Llewyn Davis (if you enjoyed the music and the film, pretty painful if not) is that every song and performance is played in full, giving it a chance to breathe and relax into the wonderful 1960s New York universe that the Coen Brothers created. This is the most upbeat and fun song of the lot, and interestingly features Star Wars Episode 7 stars Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver, alongside Justin Timberlake. Here’s hoping JJ Abrams can persuade JT to cameo in the film and we might get a reunion of sorts in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

If James has convinced you that there were some great soundtracks this year, now’s your time to tell him by voting in our end of year awards! Voting closes Monday 22nd December 2014 at 5pm.

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