The New Moon soundtrack bolted to the #2 position on the charts after it was released last week, and if it hadn’t been for Michael Buble, it would certainly have been #1 (Well played, Buble; well played, sir).
I don’t need a marketing guru to tell me how popular the series by Stephenie Meyer is. I just have to talk to my daughter (age 13) to know that the Twilight series is something that is more than a passing fad and a cleverly marketed story that appeals to teenage girls. Sure, all the product surrounding the series is designed to evoke eeks and gasps from its targeted demo, but it’s the story and how well it translates to the screen that’s really of importance to my daughter and her friends. The fact that a group like Paramore recorded an extremely popular song for the first film’s soundtrack is a wonderful addition to the Twilight universe, but soundtracks are one thing, and the story another.
All that said, however, I asked my daughter and her two friends (all of whom are fans of the Twilight series) to listen to the New Moon soundtrack and offer their thoughts on music that’s been carefully chosen to appeal to their tastes…or has it?
First off, let’s meet our teen critics — all of whom are in eighth grade.
Maya Asregadoo started reading the Twilight series in sixth grade after one of her friends recommended the book. She checked it out of the school library, and, well, she’s been hooked ever since.
Jackie Kuyat is Maya’s BFF since grade school. Maya suggested that Jackie read Twilight and, like Maya, she’s been hooked ever since.
Emmy Hurley is also a friend of Maya’s from grade school, and they’re in the same Girl Scout troop. Emmy learned about Twilight from friends at school and like Maya and Jackie, has been hooked ever since (are you sensing a viral “word of mouth” kind of marketing here? Me too).
I asked our panel to give us their overall thoughts on the soundtrack, and Jackie said, “It was okay [but] it had a lot of weak songs.” Emmy agreed, saying that “I thought this CD was very boring and not very entertaining.” Maya was a a bit more forgiving: “Overall, I did like this album, but the songs sounded very much the same. They were all pretty much the same genre, and they were mostly slow-sounding. I did enjoy that element [to a point], but it got boring after too much of the same thing.”
The soundalike quality of the songs was certainly the most universally annoying thing about the soundtrack. But was there more? Emmy stated that the songs weren’t well chosen: “[It was] like they randomly picked a whole bunch of songs and put them on the CD. I expected [the soundtrack] to be a whole lot better and fun to listen to, and that I would want to listen to it all the time. But I don’t really want to listen to it again.”
Ouch! And if you think that hurts, Jackie piled on with this twist of the knife: “This album did not support itself well and I would not buy this unless it was selling for about two dollars.”
Is that the sound of the cutout bin I hear in the distance? If two dollars is the price point for the entire album, Maya wouldn’t even pay that: “Basically, I wouldn’t go out and buy this album based on the fact that there were only a few songs that stood out to me.” That could mean that while the entire album is a downer, and many of the songs sound very much like the others, there have to be some songs that stand out; songs worth, say, 99 cents for a download? The answer is a resounding yes from all three of our panel members. Emmy clearly likes perhaps the only rocker on the album: “The song I like was “Monsters” by Hurricane Bells. It had a good beat and was pretty entertaining — [overall it was] better than the others by far.”
Jackie was taken by the one instrumental piece on the album, “New Moon (The Meadow)” by Alexandre Desplat. “The atmospheric/background quality of the composition is “a very classic Twilight-sounding songs — and it made me happy to hear a song like that [on the soundtrack].” “I Belong to You” by Muse also started to grow on her because, to Jackie, it’s “the best song with words.”
Like Jackie, Maya has more than one preferred song on the album: “My favorite songs on the album would have to be “Meet Me on the Equinox” (Death Cab for Cutie), “A White Demon Love Song” (the Killers), and “Roslyn” (Bon Iver & St. Vincent).” The Killers’ slow burn on “White Demon” and the rather haunting Bon Iver and St. Vincent “Roslyn” stand in stark contrast with Death Cab for Cutie’s “Meet Me on the Equinox” in that the DCFC tune wouldn’t be half as interesting if it wasn’t for the inventive drumming of Jason McGerr. Sure, that’s my two cents on that tune, but hey, take the drumming away, and what do you have? Not a lot, kids…not a lot.
So what have we learned? Well, if our esteemed panel is any indication, the soundtrack producers misread the tea leaves of popular culture when they put these songs together. That is to say, as a standalone group, they were too downbeat and morose. How these songs are used in the film may change opinions over time, but for now, the verdict on the New Moon soundtrack seems to be: download two or three of your favorites and skip the rest.
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