We all know the Twilight movies are terrible--they're either just flat-out terrible, or, if you're like me, they're so terrible they're amazing. I spent last night at the Big Picture drinking beers and watching the latest installment, Breaking Dawn: Part I, while a pack of feral cougars behind me screeched and yowled every time the perennially shirtless teenage werewolf Jacob appeared on screen. In the film, Jacob's pack of wolves talk to each other in bizarre Megatron voices and Edward Cullen shatters a bed the first time he bones his new wife Bella on a private island honeymoon somewhere off the coast of Brazil. Point being, nobody is arguing that these movies aren't ridiculous. More interesting to discuss are the Twilight soundtracks, because whether you succumb to Twilight or turn your nose up at it, the soundtracks have generally been quite good.
Indie snobs wouldn't approve of the original 2008 Twilight soundtrack, which included tracks from Linkin Park, Muse, and Paramore. But things got much better with the next compilation.
2009's New Moon soundtrack kept things a little mainstream with contributions from Muse, again, as well as OK Go and The Killers and the cheese-tastic theme song "Meet Me on the Equinox" by Death Cab For Cutie, but it also suddenly beefed up the soundtrack series cred rating by including tracks by Thom Yorke, Lykke Li, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Band of Skulls, and these two lovely standouts:
Bon Iver & St. Vincent's "Roslyn":
Grizzly Bear's "Slow Life," featuring Victoria Legrand of Beach House:
2010's Eclipse soundtrack again featured an overblown Muse song, this one epically titled "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)." But it also contained solid tracks from Florence and the Machine, Metric, Band of Horses, Sia, The Black Keys, Cee Lo Green, The Dead Weather, and, like New Moon, a couple of cool collaborations:
"Let's Get Lost" by Beck and Bat for Lashes:
"With You in My Head" by UNKLE featuring The Black Angels:
That takes us right up to the present, this year's Breaking Dawn: Part I soundtrack, which is bad, bad, bad, forgettable, and bad. Instead of Thom Yorke we have Bruno Mars, with his turgid "It Will Rain." Then there's a bunch of songs that I can't tell apart from Angus & Julia Stone, The Features, and Christina Perri. There's a bizarrely out-of-place hip-hop track from Theophilus London. The string of great collaborations is broken by some boring duet with Aqualung & Lucy Schwartz. The Joy Formidable's "Endtapes," which plays in the film's end credits, is decent:
But the best song on the soundtrack, and in the film, is a recycled one--an "updated" version of Iron & Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" is played during the wedding scene; "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" is an absolutely stunning song that first appeared on Iron & Wine's 2007 Sub Pop release The Shepherd's Dog and then became wildly popular after the original Twilight film used it in its famous prom scene.
But the majority of the Breaking Dawn soundtrack is unmemorable garbage. What happened? Not enough money left in the budget after paying to rent a private South American island and remaking Kristen Stewart into a skeleton getting the blood sucked out of her body by her unborn vampire demon child? The music's a disappointment--and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Breaking Dawn was the first soundtrack in the series to fail to debut in the top two positions on the Billboard 200. I blame it all on Bruno Mars.