Music from the Motion Picture
Release date: January 15, 2008
When I was sent this CD for review a few weeks ago, I had no idea what type of music would be on the soundtrack since I still hadn’t seen the smash indie hit film, now up for a Best Picture Oscar. From what I knew about the movie — about a quirky, sarcastic, quick-witted teenager (Ellen Page) who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy courtesy of her meek, kindhearted best friend (Michael Cera) — I could easily predict that Juno would be one of my favorite films of the year (and I was right). But after one glance at the list of artists on the soundtrack, I assumed that these tunes would do little else besides put me right to sleep (and I was wrong).
What I discovered after one listen was that to know Juno is to love its soundtrack. Each track immediately conjures up the specific scene from the film (which I did go see before listening to the CD). This is what a soundtrack should do.
The harmonica-laden credit-opener “All I Want Is You,” by children’s music artist Barry Louis Polisar, screams, “Hi, I’m an quirky indie flick, you will love me!” much like The White Stripes’ “We Are Gonna Be Friends” did for Napoleon Dynamite.
Polisar’s lead-off also paves the way for the acoustic guitar heavy offerings from anti-folk singer Kimya Dawson, who wrote a few songs specifically for the movie and also contributes several tunes from her other bands, The Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants. I’m unfamiliar with Dawson’s music and had she not been on this soundtrack, she’d have never been on my radar, but I found her songs to be very catchy. More importantly, I think her voice was perfect for this project, because her voice not only sounds like Page’s Juno, but a lot of the lyrics can easily be interpreted as coming from Juno.
Dawson’s biggest influence on this CD, and the movie itself, is The Moldy Peaches song “Anyone Else But You,” which is also covered by Page and Cera in the film’s heartwarming climax. Both versions are included on the soundtrack, with Page and Cera’s closing out the CD — be sure to listen to the very end for a little giggle.
For a brief sample of the film’s score, there’s “Up The Spout” by Mateo Messina, and I think the CD would have been better had there been more of Messina’s score. Also included on the disc is Cat Power‘s tear-jerking cover of “Sea of Love,” which can be heard after the birth scene, as well as tracks from Buddy Holly, Belle & Sebastian, and … c’mon, you had to see this coming … The Kinks. Seriously, what would a darling indie flick be without the obligatory Kinks song? But, hey, The Kinks rule, so bring ’em on!
Along with The Kinks are some other big names: Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, and Mott The Hoople.
VU’s “I’m Sticking With You” is a perfect addition to this compilation, thanks to percussionist Maureen Tucker’s simplistic opening vocals joined by Lou Reed’s doo-wop ending — a true and rare gem!
Both Sonic Youth’s and Mott The Hoople’s tracks will absolutely bring you right to the scene in the movie it appear, in both cases, the characters had put the songs on to listen to. SY’s cover of The Carpenters’ “Superstar — of which I’m not too fond — is what Jason Bateman’s Mark uses to turn Juno on to Sonic Youth, while MTH’s “All the Young Dudes” is the “old song” that Juno thinks she’s introducing to Mark.
The only problem with “Dudes” is now when I hear this song, I think about that awkward exchange between Mark and Juno (…eww). At first, I thought, “here’s another played-out song.” I guess it’s because someone like me thinks everyone in the universe has heard this song, but in actuality, it’s probably brand new to today’s PG-13 audiences. And if today’s kids are going to be exposed to something, it might as well be the David Bowie-penned classic rock anthem, which is the definitely the most lively offering on this CD.
Anyone Else But You (audio)
by Ellen Page and Michael Cera
Anyone Else But You (video)
by Ellen Page and Michael Cera
(This is the scene from the movie.)
Below is the video for Ellen Page and Michael Cera’s duet, which features clips and dialogue from the movie:
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