Well, here we are in 2009. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and didn’t kick anyone in the face or anything. I know I was tempted a few times, mostly while holiday shopping. Now that the holidays are over, we can all get back to our normal lives and our normal insanities, and I can get back to providing you with random movie soundtracks you never knew you wanted to listen to.
I’ve been thinking about what I wanted my first Soundtrack Saturday post of 2009 to be about since early December, but I couldn’t decide. Then, one evening right before Christmas, I watched my tattered VHS copy of a film full of holiday cheer: Less Than Zero (1987). I mean, what better way to get in the holiday spirit than watching rich Beverly Hills kids do drugs and whore themselves out to pay off the debt they owe their dealer? Joy and light, I tell you!
Loosely based on the 1985 Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, Less Than Zero stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a wealthy college freshman who returns home to Los Angeles for the holidays. He reconnects with a couple of his high school friends, Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) and Blair (Jami Gertz), and discovers they’re destroying themselves in a seedy world of drugs and sex. Less Than Zero also features James Spader as Rip, a drug dealer who’s been hassling Julian about a large sum of money the teenage junkie owes him. I’ve never read Ellis’s book, but I’ve heard he wasn’t pleased with the movie because it has very little in common with what he wrote, aside from the title and the characters’ names. Reviews I’ve read state that one of the biggest differences between the book and the movie is the movie’s anti-drug message. Perhaps Robert Downey Jr. should’ve paid attention to that bit.
Look, I know the movie isn’t that great. But it does star three of my favorite actors — Spader, Downey Jr., and McCarthy — and that was pretty much all I needed to know before I watched it for the first time, which was at a slumber party when I was 12. My friends and I had all been told we weren’t allowed to watch it, but we found it on Skinemax that night and watched it anyway. We had no idea what it was about, but we figured it had to be something good since we weren’t allowed to see it. We loved Less Than Zero and felt so grown up watching it. Of course, when I see it now I can’t help but giggle at how seriously we took it back then.
Now, let’s talk about the soundtrack. Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, it’s packed with an eclectic mix of songs ranging from rock to hair metal, reggae, jazz, and hip-hop, and it features several covers, including its biggest single, the Bangles’ take on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter.” Other notable tracks include L.L. Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali,” which was popular enough to be included on his third album, 1989’s Walking With a Panther, and Roy Orbison singing a Glenn Danzig song called “Life Fades Away.” Red Hot Chili Peppers also appear in the film performing “Fight Like a Brave.” The official soundtrack is out of print and doesn’t contain all the songs that appear in the film, so I dug up everything else just for you. Why? Because I love you.
The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter
Poison – Rock and Roll All Nite
Aerosmith – Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
Slayer – In-a-Gadda-da-Vida
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – She’s Lost You
Public Enemy – Bring the Noise
The Black Flames – Are You My Woman
L.L. Cool J – Going Back to Cali
Oran “Juice” Jones and Alyson Williams – How to Love Again
Glenn Danzig and the Power and Fury Orchestra – You and Me (Less Than Zero)
Roy Orbison – Life Fades Away
Manu Dibango – Abele Dance
Count Five – Psychotic Reaction
Run-D.M.C. – Christmas in Hollis
David Lee Roth – Bump and Grind
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Fight Like a Brave
The Cult – Li’l Devil
Linton Kewsi Johnson – Want Fi Goh Rave
The Doors – Moonlight Drive
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Fire