This weekend sees the end of Hollywood's four-year license to print money, as the final Twilight film, Breaking Dawn Part 2, hits theaters. Keeping pace with their standard process, they made it a point to release a heavily market-researched soundtrack to coincide with each film. Below are some highlights and lowlights from each.
Twilight Released in 2008, the first soundtrack for the film franchise actually debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts and held that spot for two weeks before being dethroned by the unstoppable unicorn that is Taylor Swift. Stacked with the likes of Muse, Paramore, Perry Farrell, Collective Soul and Linkin Park, Twilight feels like a throwback to the early Aughts, when aggro-rock ruled soundtracks and served as a distraction when they popped up in the films. Just look at anything with a Marvel superhero, namely Daredevil, which was less a movie and more a commercial for Amy Lee's voice.
Peppered amongst the guitar-heavy whining were songs by series star Robert Pattinson (somehow not the worst song on the soundtrack), MuteMath and Collective Soul. Easily, the highlight of the soundtrack was Iron & Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," which was included on the insistence of star Kristen Stewart, and serves as a signifier of the changes that would occur on the next soundtrack.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon To say that the New Moon soundtrack was completely different from Twilight doesn't do it justice. Gone were Paramore and Linkin Park, in were Death Cab for Cutie, Lykke Li and the Killers. Add in album highlights like St. Vincent and Bon Iver's "Roslyn," and you have to wonder why the changes are so drastic. It's as if the marketing directors behind the film picked up a Coachella poster and selected bands at random.
The few lowlights are a boring Black Rebel Motorcycle Club track, another song by Muse and an appearance by the most overhyped band of 2009, Band of Skulls. Also, what the fuck, Lupe Fiasco? His track, "Solar Midnite," features him collaborating with Linkin Park light on a song that sounds like it should either be on the Judgment Night soundtrack or the next Blade movie. It is just terrible. Though, this was balanced out by an original Thom Yorke song, whose profits went towards his yearly haircut.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse And boom goes the indie dynamite. Let's look over the the acts who were either coming off recent success or about to blow up on this soundtrack: Metric (riding their Fantasies wave), Florence & the Machine ("Dog Days" joke goes here), Sia, The Dead Weather, Band of Horses, The Black Keys, Cee-Lo and Bat for Lashes (who shared a track with Beck). Add in a collaboration between UNKLE and The Black Angels... Hold on, take a second, let it all sink in. The Black Angels appeared on a Twilight soundtrack... Anyway, the collaboration between UNKLE and The Black Angels is the highlight of the whole thing, and is worth listening to on its own. This may be the most bizarre soundtrack put out for a major film since the Batman Forever debacle.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out the soundtrack was dragged down by the obligatory Muse track, and a song from The Bravery, who I did not realize were still a band in 2010.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn I hope you enjoyed the vaguely interesting soundtracks of the last three films because the first part of the final chapter (NOTE: As I was writing about the first half of a final part of a film series, I was legally mandated to type "the first part of the final chapter") is one gigantic bag of "Meh." Sure, Iron & Wine shows back up, and yes, the band everyone thought that were going to break out, The Joy Formidable, own the credits with their energetic song, but it's not enough to counteract the audible yawn that is Bruno Mars' track and a Angus and Julia Stone collaboration.
Seriously, this whole thing was as pointless as breaking the two films apart, but it still sold more than 100,000 copies its first week. BONUS: Supposedly, Evanescence lobbied to get a song on the soundtrack and was denied, as payback for ruining Daredevil.
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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 And so we reach the end of our journey. Four years, five films, five soundtracks, three terrible Muse songs. On Tuesday, we received the latest Twilight soundtrack and it pretty much makes up for the last one, as we're treated to St. Vincent's second song for the franchise, a James Vincent McMorrow song and an appearance from Feist. Add in a track from the newly renamed POP ETC (That's the Morning Benders to you kids who really loved 2010's Big Echo) and you have the series' strongest output since the Eclipse soundtrack.
Sadly, it's not all sunshine and Annie Clark, as marketing gurus decided this was yet another opportunity to shove Ellie Goulding down the public's throat, and we are treated to the most bizarre inclusion in the whole damn series, as aging pop-punks Green Day show up to say, "HEY! Buy one of the three albums we're putting out this year, and try not to think about Billie Joe's meltdown!"
I don't think we should spend too much time thinking over the choices behind albums that are made to sell merch to people who would buy anything, but I think we should be thankful they decided to branch out from the market-tested norm and provide their audience with some rather interesting tracks. I think the real question is how they made it through five soundtracks and no one worked the Twilight Sad into the mix.