I had a hard time deciding what soundtrack to offer you this week, and went through about five different ideas before time ran out and I chose Pump Up the Volume. Right now I’m wrapping up a work-related trip to Seattle, and I had thrown this movie’s soundtrack on the MP3 player to listen to on the plane — my version of the soundtrack, that is, which blends the official one with the tracks that didn’t make the cut. It’s made my travels a little happier, so I hope you enjoy the bonus songs.

Pump Up the Volume (1990) stars Christian Slater as Mark, a high school student from the east coast who moves with his family to Arizona. By day, Mark is a quiet, shy high school student, doing his best to keep a very low profile. By night, he’s Happy Harry Hard-On, the DJ of a popular pirate-radio show. Through his on-air personality, Mark pushes the limits and gets his peers to think about their lives, their school, and the injustices many of them are being dealt. “Happy Harry Hard-On” is a rebel, playing music that is nowhere near mainstream, ranting about the school and its faculty, and even engaging in a fake masturbation session or two. His show becomes extremely popular, and Harry is a hero amongst the teens who listen to him.

But when a student listener who speaks to Harry/Mark on the air kills himself, the community and the high school’s administrators want to put the blame on someone, and that someone is Harry. Mark struggles with his conscience after the death, and battles with the decision to put Harry to rest once and for all. But with the help of his new girlfriend, Nora (Samantha Mathis), Mark decides that Harry and his message are too important to go quietly into the night.

Of course, this being a film about pirate radio, none of the music featured is the sugary pop music heard in so many teen films from the ’80s; Pump Up the Volume‘s soundtrack is just as rebellious as Harry and his listeners. The official soundtrack (which I won’t be posting any tracks from) features songs by Sonic Youth, Concrete Blonde, and the Pixies, to name a few. But there are also quite a few songs in the film that should’ve made the cut, mainly the Leonard Cohen version of “Everybody Knows” that Mark plays at the beginning of every Harry show. I’ve gathered all but one of the remaining tracks — “Talk Hard” by Stan Ridgway. If you have it, and want to share, please do. Harry would want that.

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
Descendents – Weinerschnitzel
Urban Dance Squad – Fast Lane
Was (Not Was) – Hello, Dad … I’m in Jail
Beastie Boys – Scenario
Richard Hell & the Voidoids – Love Comes in Spurts
Leonard Cohen – If It Be Your Will
Ice-T – Girls L.G.B.N.A.F.

About the Author

Kelly Stitzel

After shutting down her own blog, Looking at Them, in mid-2008, Kelly migrated over to Popdose, bringing with her Soundtrack Saturday, the most popular column from her old site. Kelly makes a living as a fashion and marketing copywriter, which takes up a lot of her time. However, when she is able to write about things that have nothing to do with her day job, she contributes reviews and musings on music, film and a variety of other topics. In addition to Soundtrack Saturday, columns she's written include Filminism and Pulling Rank.

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