One of the great things about the movie Juno is how the music plays a vital role in the film itself. But because the record industry is so fucked, it took a label until the first week in January to get around to releasing a soundtrack to it. That’s a full month after the word of mouth on this comedic tale of a sassy teenager contending with an unexpected pregnancy was already in full swing. To be fair, the soundtrack has been available as a digital only release since early December, but there was enough interest in an antiquated format to land the CD release in the Billboard Top 10.
When you see the movie, you will understand why there is a veritable cottage industry sprouting from the film’s wake. You can now get hamburger phones just like Juno’s character and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a huge resurgence in orange flavored Tic-Tacs.
But it’s the soundtrack that will probably see the biggest benefit from the film, a generation-crossing compilation of anti-folk scene enhancers, classic rock reference points, and mix-tape conversation pieces. And like a good mix-tape, the original motion picture soundtrack to Juno works surprisingly well.
Like what The Graduate did for Simon & Garfunkel or Magnolia did for Aimee Mann, Juno offers Kimya Dawson center stage and some newfound notoriety with selections from both her Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants projects as well as her own solo material. The Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone Else But You” serves as the film’s emotional centerpiece, with appearances as both the original version and with a reprise as performed by the film’s stars, Michael Cera and Ellen Page. And before you rush to judgment to question why there was a need to duplicate a perfectly good original, consider that the actors’ version is better than the Peaches’ and admit that you’ll never hear “Anyone Else But You” in the same way again after seeing this movie.
The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking With You” makes an appearance, and in the process, it manages to fit both the content of the scene and, as far as the soundtrack is concerned, serve as a reference point for the speak-sung style of Dawson. Yes, Moe Tucker and Kimya Dawson mine similar vocal strategies and again, like any good mix tape, the soundtrack serves as an important history lesson for the young-uns.
The non-Dawson material, Belle & Sebastian’s two cuts, Sonic Youth’s take on the Carpenter’s “Superstar,” Buddy Holly’s wonderful “Dearest,” The Kinks’ “A Well Respected Man,” Cat Power’s “Sea Of Love,” and Mott the Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes,” are all strategically placed and help the set move along at a very quick pace.
The strangest track here arrives at the beginning: Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want Is You.” Polisar, a children’s singer/songwriter, contributes this 30-year-old song (from the same album that brought you “My Brother Threw Up On My Toy Stuffed Bunny”) that perfectly reflects the reality that, regardless of Juno’s knowledge of Raw Power and Dario Argento horror flicks, she’s a young girl caught in a very adult situation.
There’s a refreshing deliberateness to every song here. Nothing is wasted and nothing seems to be added to the 19-track disc without some careful consideration towards the scene in which it is placed. Again, you’ll find yourself charmed with the release even without seeing the movie, but after watching Jason Reitman’s engaging effort you’ll be positively drawn to it.
Honest to blog: Juno is a great soundtrack.
In the past, Glorious Noise has caught a lot of flack for criticizing one or both Moldy Peaches: Kimya Dawson: Baby Baby Oh Baby (2004); The Strokes: Fell in Love with You before the Second Show (2001).